Binge Drinking Statistics: What the Numbers Say

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited :November 19, 
| 4 Sources

The figures reveal that binge drinking is reaching epidemic proportions and is not the harmless activity many believe it to be

According to binge drinking statistics, binge drinking is considered the most common, deadly, and costly pattern of excessive alcohol consumption in the United States. Binge drinking refers to a form of alcohol abuse where individuals indulge in excessive episodic drinking (above the 5/4 limit) in a social setting and in a short span of time, generally 2 hours or less.

Binge drinking is a pattern of alcohol use that takes the blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 percent. For a regular adult, binge drinking corresponds to drinking 5 or more alcoholic beverages for males or 4 or more alcoholic beverages for females in approximately 2 hours.

Most binge drinkers partake in this activity as a form of fun rather than depending on the substance as a coping mechanism (which is what alcoholics do), so the term is not synonymous with alcoholism. In this context, it’s easy to discount or overlook the health and social consequences contributed to or caused by drinking.

As harmless and acceptable as binge drinking may be viewed in a majority of social circles, it cannot be overlooked as being a possible precursor to alcoholism if a person takes to binge drinking on a regular basis.

The habit can be a risk factor if a binge drinker gradually starts depending on alcohol and consumes it outside his/her social circle to deal with underlying issues such as depression, grief, low self-esteem, and other personal problems.

When alcohol becomes a crutch, it's time to sit up do something about it.

Another reason why most experts and support groups are wary of binge drinking is because binge drinking statistics reveal that it is mainly the young who engage in this behavior.

Binge drinker or alcohol dependent? Take an alcoholism test to find out.

Let’s take a look at some of these numbers:


Binge Drinking Statistics: Government Studies

Leading government surveys and studies have thrown light on the magnitude of binge drinking in the U.S. and the truly negative consequences it can have when not controlled.

In a 2009 study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published some startling binge drinking statistics, such as the fact that well over 79,000 excessive alcohol consumption deaths were accounted for by binge drinking alone. The CDC also went on to reveal that binge drinking is one of the leading preventable causes of death in the country.

Here’s some insights into some other U.S. binge drinking statistics published by Dr. Timothy Naimi, a physician in the alcohol team at the CDC, and his colleagues:

  • Men are twice as likely to indulge in binge drinking than women
  • Contrary to popular belief, a majority of binge drinking episodes (70%) involve adults who are aged 26 and older, even though many collegians do binge drink
  • Binge drinkers are 14 times more likely to get involved in alcohol-impaired driving than their non-binge drinking counterparts
  • Approximately 92% of adults who drink excessively report indulging in binge drinking in the past one month
  • Though people aged 26 years or older are most likely to participate in binge drinking episodes, the proportion of drinkers who binge drink is highest in the 18-20 age group (51%)

Additionally, a 2005 study conducted by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention revealed that:

  • About 90% of the alcohol consumed by those who are below 21 years of age are in the form of binge drinks
  • Over 75% of the alcohol consumed by adults is in the form of binge drinking

Binge Drinking Statistics: Why Collegians Need to Worry

Underage drinking is a grave public health crisis in the United States. Alcohol is the most widely used substance among the youth in the United States, and drinking by young people presents enormous safety and health risks.

Binge drinking is all too common in colleges to the point where it’s often considered an ‘initiation rite’ for students. These are some of the startling figures that point to the binge drinking practices in educational institutions:

  • Full time college students are more likely to take up binge drinking than part-time students and those who are not enrolled in college
  • Alcohol is the third leading cause of death in the 15-24 age group
  • College students who binge drink often are less likely to have good grades and attend classes/lectures regularly
  • 1 in every 5 binge drinkers in colleges drinks alcohol on a weekly basis
  • About 70% of college students participate in binge drinking, while 42% admit to have indulged in this practice
  • Almost 1700 students die annually from binge drinking

For more on the connection between binge drinking and college life, read college binge drinking.

As is evident from the above binge drinking statistics, this habit is alarming due to the scale of its presence on college campuses. However, older people need to take into account the fact that an overwhelming majority of excessive drinking episodes involve people who are in their mid-20s or older.

This goes to show that this activity is not limited to a particular age group, and if not controlled in time, it can lead down a dangerous road to prolonged alcohol abuse and ultimately, alcoholism.

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Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 


I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More


World Health Organization. Alcohol.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Drinking Levels Defined.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Binge Drinking.  December 30, 2019.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Underage Drinking. March 2021.

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