New estimates from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that one in six adults in the U.S. regularly goes on drinking binges.
More than 38 million adults binge drink, CDC officials said, defining binge drinking as having four or more drinks for women and five or more for men over a short period of time.
On average, the drinkers go on binges about four times a month, while the largest number of drinks consumed is eight, according to a report in the agency’s publication Vital Signs.
The report found that people who were thought less likely to binge drink actually do it more often and consume more drinks. While binge drinking is more common among young adults, aged 18-34 years, binge drinkers over the age of 65 years report binge drinking more often — an average of five to six times a month.
And while binge drinking is more common among people with household incomes of $75,000 or more, the largest number of drinks consumed on one occasion is significantly higher among binge drinkers with household incomes less than $25,000 — an average of eight to nine drinks, far beyond the amount thought to induce intoxication, CDC officials said.
Binge drinking is most common in the Midwest, New England, the District of Columbia, Alaska, and Hawaii, the report continues. The number of drinks consumed during a binge is highest in the Midwest and southern Mountain states (Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah), and in some states — such as Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina —where binge drinking is less common.
The CDC report notes that binge drinking is a “dangerous and costly public health problem.”
Facts delineated in the report include:
- Most alcohol-impaired drivers binge drink;
- Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent or alcoholics;
- More than half of the alcohol adults drink is during a binge;
- More than 90 percent of the alcohol kids drink is during a binge;
- Drinking too much, including binge drinking, causes more than 80,000 deaths in the United States each year;
- Drinking too much cost the United States $223.5 billion in 2006, or $1.90 a drink, from losses in productivity, health care, crime, and other expenses;
- Binge drinking cost federal, state, and local governments about 62 cents per drink in 2006, while federal and state income from taxes on alcohol totaled only about 12 cents per drink;
- Drinking too much contributes to more than 54 different injuries and diseases, including car crashes, violence, and sexually transmitted diseases. Over time, binge drinking also can lead to liver disease, certain cancers, heart disease, stroke, and many other chronic health problems.