Report: Binge Drinking on the Rise

CDC study finds that younger and older people are drinking excessively.

Posted: 01/13/2012 03:33 PM EST

Having a few drinks is one thing, but binge drinking — having at least five or more drinks in a row for men and four or more drinks in a row for women — is another thing. And this behavior appears to be on the rise in the U.S, according to a recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Roughly 38 million Americans — 17 percent of the total population — went on at least one drinking binge in a month last year. This is up two percent from 2009.


According to NPR Shots, researchers also found:


•    For those who binge, the average number of binges a month is more than four. And during those sessions, the bingers consume nearly eight drinks.
•    Men binge more often than women. And the guys drink more during each session. Beer is the most likely beverage to be involved in binges.
•    Binge drinking is most popular among young people aged 18-to-34 — 28 percent.
•    The same group, 18-to-34-year-olds, drink the most, with a whopping nine drinks per binge.
•    Most frequent bingers were seniors — ages 65 and older. They tend to binge 5.5 times a month.  


Some other interesting findings about binge drinking, viewed in terms of race, education level and socioeconomic status:


•    The prevalence rates among white Americans and Latinos were very similar — 18 percent vs. 17.9 percent. But African-Americans clocked in a significantly lower rate — 12.7 percent.
•     Yet, the frequency of binge drinking was similar across racial and ethnic groups, but the highest intensity was reported by binge drinkers who were not Latino (white, Black, Native American, etc.) with 8.7 drinks per binge versus 8.4 drinks.
•    High school dropouts had the lowest prevalence of binge drinking (13.7 percent), but those who binge drank had the highest frequency (5.5 episodes per month) and intensity (9.3 drinks on occasion), compared with respondents with higher educational levels.
•    The more money in a household, the more binge-drinking prevalence increased and was highest among households that made $75,000 or more per year (20.2 percent).
•    However, the highest frequency and intensity of binge drinking by household income was reported by those with incomes $25,000 or less (5.0 episodes per month and 8.5 drinks per binge.)


On a slightly more depressing note, Dr. Robert Brewer, head of the CDC's alcohol program, believes that these numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. In a press conference this week he stated, "We know this is a substantial underestimate because it relies on people's reports of their own drinking behavior. Another recent study that looked at alcohol showed that approach misses a lot of alcohol consumption."


But CDC researchers are not without hope. In their report, they wrote that holding bars, restaurants and retailers more responsible for these behaviors, adding more taxes to liquor and beer, having stricter limits on days and times that liquor is sold and increasing the overall price on alcohol might lower these rates.


What do you think? Will these strategies work?


To learn more about alcohol abuse and addiction, go here.



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