Nebraska Office of Men's Health

Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is a common pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume more than 4 drinks and women consume more than 3 drinks in about 2 hours (1).

Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent.

According to national surveys:

  • Approximately 92% of US adults who drink excessively, report binge drinking in the past 30 days (2).
  • Although college students commonly binge drink, 70% of binge drinking episodes involve adults over age 25 (3).
  • The rate of binge drinking among men is 3 times the rate of women (4).
  • Binge drinkers are 14 times more likely to report alcohol-impaired driving than non-binge drinkers (3).
  • About 90% of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the United States is in the form of binge drinks (5).
  • About 75% of the alcohol consumed by adults in the United States in the form of binge drinks (5).
  • The proportion of current drinkers that binge is highest in the 18 to 20 year old groups (52.1%) (6).
Binge drinking is associated with many health problems, including but not limited to
  • Unintentional injuries (e.g. car crash, falls, burns, drowning).
  • Intentional injuries (e.g. firearm injuries, sexual assault, domestic violence).
  • Alcohol poisoning.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Unintended pregnancy.
  • Children born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
  • High blood pressure, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases.
  • Liver disease.
  • Neurological damage.
  • Sexual dysfunction.
  • Poor control of diabetes.
Alcohol Terms

The Standard Measure of Alcohol

In the United States, a standard drink has about half an ounce (13.7 grams or 1.2 tablespoons) of pure alcohol. Generally, this amount of pure alcohol is found in:

  • 12 ounces of regular beer or wine cooler
  • 8 ounces of malt liquor
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits or “liquor” (gin, rum, vodka, whiskey)

Levels and Patterns of Drinking

  • Heavy drinking
    • For women, more than 1 drink per day on average.
    • For men, more than 2 drinks per day on average.
  • Binge drinking
    • For women, more than 3 drinks during a single occasion.
    • For men, more than 4 drinks during a single occasion.

Excessive drinking includes heavy drinking, binge drinking or both.

For More Information
Do I Drink Too Much?

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