- Percentage of adults who drank excessively in the last 30 days. Binge drinking is defined as 5 drinks for a man and 4 drinks for a woman on one occasion.
- Percentage of adults who drank excessively in the last 30 days. Binge drinking is defined as 5 drinks for a man and 5 drinks for a woman on one occasion.
- Percentage of adults who self-report consuming 4 or more (women) or 5 or more (men) alcoholic beverages on at least 1 occasion in the last month
Binge Drinking is the percentage of adults who self-report having 4 or more (women) or 5 or more (men) alcoholic beverages on 1 occasion, at least once in the past 30 days. The 2015 ranks are based on self-report data from CDC’s 2014 BRFSS. Because of the 2011 change in BRFSS methodology, binge drinking prevalence from the 2012 Edition onward cannot be directly compared to estimates from previous years (see Methodology).
The prevalence of binge drinking among US adults varies from 9.6% in West Virginia to 24% in North Dakota. The national median of adults who binge drink is 16%, essentially unchanged from the 2014 Edition.
Public Health Impact
Binge drinking or heavy episodic drinking is excessive alcohol use that can increase the risk of health problems such as liver disease or unintentional injuries. Alcohol consumption that raises the blood-alcohol level to 0.08% or more is considered binge drinking.
Each year from 2006 to 2010 excessive alcohol use was responsible for 1 in 10 deaths among adults aged 20 to 64 years. More than half of these deaths were due to binge drinking, the most common form of excessive alcohol consumption in the US.
According to the CDC, more than 38 million US adults binge drink an average of 4 times a month and consume up to 8 drinks on average per binge. Binge drinking is most common among non-Hispanic whites, males, persons aged 18 to 34 years, and those with an annual household income exceeding $75,000. More than half of all alcohol consumed by adults is accounted for by binge drinking, and most binge drinkers are not alcohol-dependent.
A recent study on binge-drinking intensity revealed binge drinkers consume alcohol at levels well above those used to define the behavior. The risk of harm related to binge drinking increases with the number of drinks consumed. Binge drinking causes acute impairment, alcohol-related motor vehicle injuries and deaths, increased aggression, risky sexual behavior leading to unintended pregnancies as well as transmission of sexually transmitted infections, and unintentional injuries.
In 2006 excessive drinking cost the United States $223.5 billion, or $746 per person, due to missed work, additional health care expenses, and increased crime.Binge drinking was responsible for 76% of these costs. The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends clinicians screen adults aged 18 years and older for alcohol misuse and provide persons engaged in risky or hazardous drinking with brief behavioral counseling interventions to reduce alcohol misuse.
Reducing the proportion of adults engaging in binge drinking in the past 30 days is a leading health indicator in Healthy People 2020, with a target to improve rates 10% by 2020.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcohol and public health: fact sheets—moderate drinking. http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/moderate-drinking.htm. Updated March 3, 2015. Accessed July 8, 2015.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vital signs: alcohol poisoning deaths—United States, 2010-2012. MMWR 2015;63(53):1238-1242.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vital signs: binge drinking. http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/BingeDrinking/index.html. Updated October 10, 2013. Accessed October 2, 2013.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vital signs: binge drinking prevalence, frequency, and intensity among adults—United States, 2010. MMWR. 2012;61(1):14.
 Esser MB, Kanny D, Brewer RD, et al. Binge drinking intensity: a comparison of two measures. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2012;42(6):625-629.
 Wechsler H, Nelson TF. Relationship between level of consumption and harms in assessing drink cut-points for alcohol research: commentary on “Many college freshmen drink at levels far beyond the binge threshold” by White et al. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 2006;30(6):922-7.
 Bouchery EE, Harwood HJ, Sacks JJ, Simon CJ, Brewer RD. Economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption in the US, 2006. Am J Prev Med. 2011;41(5):516.
 US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening and behavioral counseling interventions in primary care to reduce alcohol misuse: recommendation statement. AHRQ Publication No. 12-05171-EF-3. http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf12/alcmisuse/alcmisuserfinalrs.htm. Updated March 2015. Accessed July 3, 2015.
 Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Healthy People 2020. http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topicsobjectives2020/objectiveslist.aspx?topicId=40. Updated July 8, 2015. Accessed July 8, 2015.