Binge drinking

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New Year's Eve is traditionally a time when many drink excessive amounts of alcohol. This picture is from a 1912 postcard mailed in the United States.
Young people climbing stones at Stonehenge, at a binge-drinking event

Binge drinking is an unhealthy way of drinking alcoholic beverages. When people binge drink, they usually drink a lot of alcohol in a short time, or drink with the goal of getting drunk.

Binge drinking is very common in the United States. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that in the U.S.:[1]

  • More than half of the alcohol drunk by adults is drunk during binge drinking; and
  • About 90% of the alcohol drunk by youth under age 21 is is drunk during binge drinking.

What Exactly is Binge Drinking?[change | change source]

Different researchers and countries sometimes have different definitions of what exactly binge drinking is.

United States[change | change source]

In the United States, the most common definition of binge drinking was created by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in 2009.[2] It says that binge drinking is a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings a person's blood alcohol content (BAC) to 0.08 or more. Blood alcohol content is the percentage of ethanol in the person's blood. (In the United States, a BAC of 0.08 means a person is legally drunk.) This means that a person would be binge drinking if:[3]

  • A usual adult man had five or more drinks in about two hours
  • A usual adult woman had four or more drinks in about two hours.

United Kingdom[change | change source]

In the United Kingdom, the National Health Service says that binge drinking is having "eight or more units [of alcohol] in a single [drinking] session for men and six or more for women."[4] (Units are used in the United Kingdom to measure alcohol.) This means a person would be binge drinking if:[4]

  • A usual adult man drank four glasses of wine, or three and a half pints of beer, in a single drinking session
  • A usual adult woman drank three glasses of wine, or three pints of beer, in a single drinking session

European Union[change | change source]

A recent report paid for by the European Union suggested that binge drinking should be defined, across Europe, as drinking "60g alcohol (men) and 40g alcohol (women) in a period of about two hours."[5]

Dangers of Binge Drinking[change | change source]

Binge drinking can be dangerous. It can cause alcohol poisoning. If a person drinks too much, they can stop breathing and die. Binge drinking can also damage the liver.[6]

Also, it increases binge drinkers' risks of having other problems. Binge drinkers are more likely than people who do not binge drink to:[1][6]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 United States Centers for Disease Control (January 16, 2014). "Fact Sheets - Binge Drinking". www.cdc.gov. http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm. Retrieved December 14, 2015.
  2. "Binge Drinking: Terminology and Patterns of Use Analyzing Internal and External Partnerships". www.samhsa.gov. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. September 24, 2015. http://www.samhsa.gov/capt/tools-learning-resources/binge-drinking-terminology-patterns. Retrieved December 14, 2015.
  3. Courtney, KE; Polich, J (January 2009). "Binge drinking in young adults: Data, definitions, and determinants". Psychological Bulletin 135 (1): 142-56. doi:10.1037/a0014414. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19210057. Retrieved December 14, 2015.
  4. 4.0 4.1 National Health Service (December 31, 2014). "Binge Drinking". www.nhs.uk. http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/alcohol/Pages/Bingedrinking.aspx. Retrieved December 14, 2015.
  5. Anderson, Peter (2008) Binge Drinking and Europe . Achenbach Druck Hamm. Report. Retrieved on December 14, 2015.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Fact Sheet - The Dangers of Binge Drinking". public.health.oregon.gov. https://public.health.oregon.gov/HealthyPeopleFamilies/Women/PreconceptionHealth/FetalAlcoholSyndrome/Documents/dangers_of_binge_drinking.pdf. Retrieved December 14, 2015.