- 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 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 self-report having 4 or more (women) or 5 or more (men) alcoholic beverages on at least 1 occasion in the last month. (2011 BRFSS Methodology)
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 2013 ranks are based on self-report data from CDC’s 2012 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).
According to the CDC, more than 38 million US adults binge drink on average 4 times a month, and the largest number of drinks on average is 8 per binge. Binge drinking rates are highest among 18 to 34 year olds, with the majority of binge drinkers older than age 26. However, adults aged 65 and older binge drink more often. Over time, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to fetal damage, liver diseases, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, and other major health problems., In the short term, binge drinking causes acute impairment and has adverse effects on health due to the impact of alcohol-related motor vehicle injuries and deaths, increased aggression, risky sexual behavior leading to unintended pregnancies and transmission of sexually transmitted infections, and unintentional injuries. More than half of all alcohol consumed in adults is accounted for by binge drinking. Excessive alcohol consumption is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States with an estimated 80,000 attributable deaths each year. Excessive drinking contributes significantly towards the nearly 35,000 annual motor vehicle accident fatalities, with a third of all fatalities involving alcohol.
In 2006, excessive drinking cost $223.5 billion in the United States, which translates to $746 per person in missed work, additional health care expenses, and increased crime. The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends that 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. A wide variety of strategies have been shown to be effective in reducing binge drinking within a community, and the Community Guide has published several recommended interventions here.
The prevalence of binge drinking among US adults varies from 10.2 percent in West Virginia to 25.2 percent in Wisconsin. The national median of adults who binge drink is 16.9 percent, an 8 percent improvement from the 2012 Edition.
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 by 10 percent over the decade.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Vital signs: Binge drinking. January 2012. http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/BingeDrinking/index.html Accessed October 2, 2013.
 Naimi TS. Binge drinking among US adults. JAMA. 2003;289(1):70.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Vital signs: Binge drinking prevalence, frequency, and intensity among adults—United States, 2010. MMWR.2012;61(1):14.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Vital Signs: Alcohol-Impaired Driving Among Adults --- United States, 2010 MMWR 2011;60(39).
 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/alcmisusefinalrs.htm. Accessed October 3, 2013.