Nearly 32 million Americans engage in extreme binge-drinking: study

May 17, 2017

Almost 32 million US adults admit to extreme binge-drinking at least once in the past year, meaning they consumed eight to 10 alcoholic beverages—or more—in a single sitting, US government scientists said on Wednesday.

The study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that instances of extreme binge-drinking from 2012-2013 were up significantly from a decade earlier.

"This important study reveals that a large number of people in the United States drink at very high levels and underscores the dangers associated with such 'extreme' binge drinking," said George Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

"Of the nearly 90,000 people who die from alcohol each year, more than half, or 50,000, die from injuries and overdoses associated with high blood alcohol levels."

Binge-drinking is defined as having four or more drinks on an occasion for women, or five or more for men.

Extreme binge-drinking means imbibing at least twice that amount.

Using US government health surveys, researchers found that 39 percent of adult males and 27 percent of adult females reported "level one" binge-drinking during the previous year, meaning four to seven drinks for women, or five to nine drinks for men.

Among men, 11 percent reported "level two" binge-drinking, meaning they consumed 10-14 drinks on a single occasion.

Seven percent of men reported drinking "level three" bingeing, or 15 or more drinks in one sitting.

For women, five percent reported drinking double the binge-drinking threshold—or between eight and 11 drinks in a sitting—and three percent reported drinking 12 or more at least once in the past year.

People who drank to excess were far more likely to wind up in the emergency room, have a substance use disorder, get hurt because of drinking, be the driver in a car crash, and be arrested or have legal problems resulting from alcohol use.

Extreme binge-drinking was also particularly common among people who used other drugs.

"Drinking at such high levels can suppress areas of the brain that control basic life-support functions such as breathing and heart rate, thereby increasing one's risk of death," said senior author Aaron White.

"The risk increases further if other sedative drugs, particularly opioids or benzodiazepines, are added to the mix." Valium, for instance, is a common benzodiazepine.

Study authors said more work is needed to find ways to cut down on extreme binge drinking and its negative consequences.

Explore further: Playing sports can lead some boys to binge drink

Related Stories

Playing sports can lead some boys to binge drink

January 15, 2016
High school boys who participate in sports are more likely to binge drink—especially to an extreme, according to a new University of Michigan study.

Binge drinking serious problem for US women

January 8, 2013
Binge drinking is an under-recognized problem for US women, nearly 14 million of whom engage in it about three times a month, downing about six drinks each time, says a study released Tuesday.

Binge drinking five-plus drinks common for high school seniors, some drink more

September 16, 2013
Consuming five or more alcoholic drinks in a row is common among high school seniors, with some students engaging in extreme binge drinking of as many as 15 or more drinks, according to a study published by JAMA Pediatrics.

Drinking rates highest among college kids

February 15, 2017
During a bout of high-intensity drinking, a person might drink 10 or more drinks, and a recent University of Michigan Institute for Social Research study has found that this kind of drinking is reported mostly among college ...

Should parents give their children alcohol?

March 10, 2017
Children and teens who are given alcohol by their parents are twice as likely to be drinking full serves of alcohol by age 15 or 16, but are much less likely to binge drink, a UNSW study shows.

Recommended for you

Just a few minutes of light intensity exercise linked to lower death risk in older men

February 19, 2018
Clocking up just a few minutes at a time of any level of physical activity, including of light intensity, is linked to a lower risk of death in older men, suggests research published online in the British Journal of Sports ...

Calcium and Vitamin D supplements are not associated with risk of heart attacks

February 16, 2018
New research from the University of Southampton has found no association between the use of calcium or vitamin D supplementation and cardiovascular events such as heart attacks.

Study shows options to decrease risk of motor vehicle crashes for adolescent drivers

February 16, 2018
Adolescents who receive comprehensive and challenging on-road driving assessments prior to taking the license test might be protected from future motor vehicle crashes, according to a University of Alabama at Birmingham study ...

Being a single dad can shorten your life: study

February 15, 2018
The risk of dying prematurely more than doubles for single fathers compared to single mothers or paired-up dads, according to a study of Canadian families published Thursday.

Keeping an eye on the entire ageing process

February 15, 2018
Medical researchers often only focus on a single disease. As older people often suffer from multiple diseases at the same time, however, we need to rethink this approach, writes Ralph Müller.

Study suggests possible link between highly processed foods and cancer

February 14, 2018
A study published by The BMJ today reports a possible association between intake of highly processed ("ultra-processed") food in the diet and cancer.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

EmceeSquared
not rated yet May 17, 2017
32M is 10% of the population; 39% of adult males. These people can't even make decisions about consuming poison, but they get to vote. Any wonder our government is full of pink elephants?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.