Nearly 40 million U.S. adults binge drink about four times a month

Excessive drinking, including binge drinking, results in more than 80,000 deaths annually, reports CDC.

CDC reported today that more than 38 million U.S. adults binge drink—defined as consuming four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men during one occasion—an average of four times a month and that the most drinks consumed on average is eight.

The agency's  report also indicated the following:

  • Binge drinking is more common among young adults aged 18 to 34 years; however, adults 65 years or older who reported binge drinking indicated that they do so more often—an average of five to six times a month.
  • Binge drinking was more common in households with incomes of $75,000 or more, but the greatest number of drinks consumed per occasion is considerably higher among binge drinkers with household incomes below $25,000—an average of eight to nine drinks.

Excessive drinking, including binge drinking, is the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States, resulting in more than 80,000 deaths annually. In 2006, binge drinking caused more than $223.5 billion in economic costs.

Binge drinkers also place themselves and others at risk for a wide array of health and social problems, including car crashes and other unintentional injuries, violence, sexually transmitted diseases, both unintended and alcohol-exposed pregnancies, liver disease, certain cancers, and heart disease.

In terms of geographic area, CDC reported the following regarding binge drinking:

  • It is most common in the midwest, New England, District of Columbia, Alaska, and Hawaii.
  • Binge drinkers consume more drinks in the southern part of the Mountain states (Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah), midwest, and some states where binge drinking is less common, including Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina.

State-specific estimates of alcohol-related deaths and other data are available at CDC's  website.

Data from the 2010  on self-reports of binge drinking among approximately 458,000 U.S. adults aged 18 years or older were analyzed by CDC. The data included about 36,000 cell phone respondents.

“Binge drinking by adults has a huge public health impact, and influences the drinking behavior of underage youth by the example it sets,” said Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, JD, in a news release. “We need to reduce binge drinking by adults to prevent the immediate and long-term effects it has on the health of adults and youth,” she added.
The CDC  webpage provides additional information on the public. Assistance also is available from the National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service (800-662-HELP) for people who are concerned about their own or someone else's binge drinking.