Binge Drinking

Binge drinking in the past meant drinking heavily over several days.

Now, however, the term refers to the heavy consumption of alcohol over a short period of time.

Today the generally accepted definition of binge drinking is the consumption of five or more drinks in a row by men or four or more drinks in a row by women at least once in the previous 2 weeks. Heavy BD includes three or more such episodes in 2 weeks.

According To National Surveys:

  • Approximately 92% of US adults who drink excessively report BD in the past 30 days.
  • Although college students commonly BD, 70% of BD episodes involve adults over age 25.
  • The rate of BD among men is 2 times the rate of women.
  • Binge drinkers are 14 times more likely to report alcohol-impaired driving than non-binge drinkers.
  • About 90% of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the United States is in the form of binge drinks.
  • About 75% of the alcohol consumed by adults in the United States is in the form of binge drinks.
  • The proportion of current drinkers that binge is highest in the 18 to 20 year old groups (51%)

High School And College Students

Despite laws in every State that make it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase or possess alcohol, young people report that alcohol is easy to obtain and that many high school and college students drink with one goal…to get drunk.

Why Do Adolescents Binge Drink?

Liquor stores, bars, and alcoholic beverage companies make drinking seem attractive and fun. It’s easy for a high school student to get caught up in a social scene with lots of peer pressure. Inevitably, one of the biggest areas of peer pressure is drinking.

Reasons For Adolescent Drinking:

  • They’re curious — they want to know what it’s like to drink alcohol.
  • They believe that it will make them feel good, not realizing it could make them sick and hung-over.
  • They may look at alcohol as a way to reduce stress, even though it can end up creating more stress.
  • They want to feel older.

Many teens don’t think about the negative side effects of drinking.Although they think about the possibility of getting drunk, they may not give much consideration to being hung-over or throwing up.

Excessive drinking can lead to difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, mood changes,and other problems that affect day-to-day life. But
BD carries more serious and longer-lasting risks as well.

Adolescent Drinking Statistics

  • BD, often begins around age 13, tends to increase during adolescence, peaks in young adulthood (ages 18 to 22), then gradually decreases.
  • BD in the last year was reported by 8 percent of youth ages 12 to 17 and 30 percent of those ages 18 to 20.
  • Among persons under the legal drinking age (12 to 20), 15 percent were binge drinkers and 7 percent were heavy drinkers.
  • About 10.4 million adolescents ages 12 to 20 reported using alcohol. Of those, 5.1 million were binge drinkers and included 2.3 million heavy drinkers who binged at least five times a month.
  • Nearly 9 percent of boys and 7 percent of girls ages 12 to 17 reported binge drinking in the previous month.


  • Frequent binge drinkers were eight times more likely than non-binge drinkers to miss a class, fall behind in schoolwork, get hurt or injured, and damage property.
  • Nearly one out of every five teenagers (16 percent) has experienced “black out” spells where they could not remember what happened the previous evening because of heavy BD.
  • More than 60 percent of college men and almost 50 percent of college women who are frequent binge drinkers report that they drink and drive.
  • BD during high school, especially among males, is strongly predictive of BD in college.
  • BD during college may be associated with mental health disorders such as compulsiveness, depression or anxiety, or early deviant behavior.
  • In a national study, 91 percent of women and 78 percent of the men who were frequent binge drinkers considered themselves to be moderate or light drinkers.

Impaired Judgment

BD impairs judgment, so drinkers are more likely to take risks they might not take when they’re sober. They may drive drunk and injure themselves or others. Driving isn’t the only motor skill that’s impaired, though.

Walking is also more difficult while intoxicated. It has been reported that roughly one third of pedestrians 16 and older who were killed in traffic accidents were intoxicated.

People who are drunk also take other risks they might not normally take when they’re sober. For example, people who have impaired judgment may have unprotected sex, putting them at greater risk of a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or unplanned pregnancy.

Physical Health

Studies show that people who binge-drink throughout high school are more likely to be overweight and have high blood pressure by the time they are 24. Just one regular beer contains about 150 calories, which adds up to a lot of calories if someone drinks four or five beers a night.

Mental Health

Binge drinkers have a harder time in school and they’re more likely to drop out. Drinking disrupts sleep patterns, which can make it harder to stay awake and concentrate during the day.

This can lead to struggles with studying and poor academic performance. People who binge-drink may find that their friends drift away. Drinking can affect personality; people might become angry or moody while drinking.


Some studies have shown that people who binge-drink heavily, those who have three or more episodes of binge drinking in 2 weeks have some of thesymptoms of alcoholism.

Binge Drinking On College Campuses

  • According to a recent study, nearly half of all college students surveyed drank four or five drinks in one sitting within the previous 2 weeks.
  • Students who live in a fraternity or sorority house are the heaviest drinkers – 86 percent of fraternity residents and 80 percent of sorority residents report BD.
  • In a recent study, 39 percent of college women binge drank within a 2-week period compared with 50 percent of college men.
  • Colleges with high BD rates were also much more likely to attract students who were binge drinkers in high school.

Consequences Of Binge Drinking

Alcohol poisoning – a severe and potentially fatal physical reaction to an alcohol overdose – is the most serious consequence of BD.

When excessive amounts of alcohol are consumed, the brain is deprived of oxygen.

The struggle to deal with an overdose of alcohol and lack of oxygen will eventually cause the brain to shut down the voluntary functions that regulate breathing and heart rate. If a person is known to have consumed large quantities of alcohol in a short period of time.

Symptoms Of Alcohol Poisoning Include:

  • Extreme confusion
  • Inability to be awakened
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Low body temperature
  • Unconsciousness
  • Cold, clammy, pale, or bluish skin
  • Slow or irregular breathing (less than 8 breaths a minute or 10 or more seconds between breaths).

Secondary Effects

In schools with high BD rates, 34 percent of non-
binge drinkers reported being insulted or humiliated
by binge drinkers; 13 percent reported being pushed, hit, or assaulted; 54 percent reported having to take care of a drunken student; 68 percent were interrupted while studying; and 26 percent of women experienced an unwanted sexual advance.

College Drug Use And BD On The Rise

Nearly half of America’s 5.4 million full-time college students abuse drugs or drink alcohol on binges at least once a month, according to a new study that portrays substance and alcohol abuse as an increasingly urgent problem on campuses across the nation.

Alcohol remains the favored substance of abuse on college campuses by far, but the abuse of prescription drugs and marijuana has increased dramatically since the mid-1990s, according to a recently released study.

The study surveyed 2,000 students and found that college students have higher rates of alcohol or drug addiction than the general public: 22.9% of students meet the medical definition for alcohol or drug abuse or dependence (a compulsive use of a substance despite negative consequences) compared with 8.5% of all people 12 and older.

Nearly half the students surveyed said they drank or used drugs to relax, reduce stress or forget about problems.

Students who said they had abused painkillers such as Percocet, Vicodin and OxyContin during the past month rose from fewer than 1% of students in 1993 to 3.1% in 2005, a reflection of how the rising number and availability of prescription drugs has increased abuse.

The percentage of students who reported smoking marijuana heavily (at least 20 days during the past month) more than doubled, from 1.9% in 1993 to 4% in 2005.

The percentage of students who reported using illegal drugs other than marijuana, such as cocaine and heroin,in the past month jumped from 5.4% in 1993 to 8.2% in 2005.

The percentage of students who reported BD three or more times during the previous two weeks increased
from 19.7% in 1993 to 22.8% in 2001. In 2005, 83% of campus arrests involved alcohol.

Getting Help

Drinking too much can be the result of social pressures, and sometimes it helps to know there are others who have gone through the same thing. If you’re worried, don’t hesitate to ask someone for help. A supportive friend or adult could help you to avoid pressure situations, stop drinking, or find counseling.

Most drug and alcohol treatment centers offer different approaches to addiction treatment, but the end goal is the same: to help an addict shed the chains of alcohol or drug addiction and start anew.

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