What Counts as Binge Drinking?

What Counts as Binge Drinking?

Binge drinking is an event when a person consumes an excessive amount of alcohol in a relatively short period of time

Binge drinking typically describes an event when a person consumes an excessive amount of alcohol within a relatively short period of time. A person who engages in binge drinking is not necessarily alcohol dependent. In fact, the majority of people who binge drink are not dependent upon alcohol. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism considers a person’s drinking habit to be binge drinking when their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level reaches a percentage of 0.08 grams or more. That percentage is also the amount needed for authorities to deem a person as intoxicated and able to be charged with a DUI if they are operating a vehicle. Reaching the intoxicated level of BAC typically happens when a male consumes 5 or more drinks and a female consumes 4 or more drinks within a two hour time period. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) binge drinking accounts for the following:

  • One out of every six adults in the U.S. binge drink four or more times per month consuming about 8 drinks per binge
  • People age 65 and older often binge on alcohol five to six times per month although binge drinking is less common among this age group as opposed to people age 18 to 34
  • Binge drinking is more common among people who have a household income totaling $75,000 or more
  • 70% of binge drinking episodes involve adults 26 years of age or older
  • Bing drinking is twice as common among men than women
  • People who binge drink are significantly more likely to drive under the influence than people who do not binge drink
  • Almost 90% of alcohol consumed by people under the age of 21in the U.S. is consumed through binge drinking
  • More than half of all the alcohol consumed by adults over the age of 21 in the U.S. is consumed through binge drinking

Binge drinking also leads to a significant increase in unintentional injuries such as car crashes or drowning and intentional injuries such as sexual assault or domestic violence. Alcohol poisoning is also a dangerous risk of binge drinking. As common as binge drinking is in the U.S. it can sometimes be difficult for people to recognize if they or someone they know has a problem with binge drinking. Consider the following when trying to determine if binge drinking is a problem:

  • Is alcohol consumed as quickly as possible in order to feel the effects of intoxication?
  • Are multiple drinks with a high percentage of alcohol by volume consumed within a short amount of time?
  • Is alcohol consumption motivated by social factors?
  • Is alcohol consumed in excess in order to alleviate stress or other emotional problems?

Binge drinking can pose numerous health risks but professional treatment can reduce the risk of alcohol related health problems. Professional treatment can be the best way to overcome struggles with excessive alcohol consumption and move towards a healthier lifestyle without the dangers of binge drinking.

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