Americans have a drinking problem with adults binge drinking more than ever before, warns CDC

Between 2011 and 2017, the average number of drinks consumed by binge drinkers per year has gone up from 472 to 529.


                            Americans have a drinking problem with adults binge drinking more than ever before, warns CDC
(Getty Images)

Binge drinking among Americans has reached a new high. Many adults are drinking more alcohol than before in a single session, says a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report.

Between 2011 and 2017, the average number of drinks consumed by binge drinkers per year has increased from 472 to 529. Binge drinking is high among people over 35 years, especially those with lower income and education levels, the report adds.

Experts call it binge drinking when men consume five or more drinks or women consume four or more in one session. "Binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above," says the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Binge drinking can result in unintentional injuries such as car crashes, falls, burns, and alcohol poisoning. Other risks include violence, unintended pregnancy, and chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and liver disease and cancers.

One in 10 adults aged between 20 and 64 years die each year from excessive drinking. CDC says that approximately 90% of adults who report excessive drinking indulge in binge drinking.

There are economic costs too. In 2010, excessive drinking, including binge drinking, cost the United States $249 billion due to losses in workplace productivity, health care expenditures, criminal justice costs, and other expenses, CDC estimates.

Earlier reports found that binge drinking was more common among men. But this has changed since then: the trend has picked up in both sexes significantly. From 2011 to 2017, the number of drinks consumed during an episode of binge drinking increased from 587 to 666 on average for men and from 256 to 290 for women.

One in 10 adults aged between 20 and 64 years die each year from excessive drinking. (Getty Images)

Taken together, alcohol consumption due to binge drinking has led to an increase in per capita alcohol consumption, from 2.29 gallons in 2011 to 2.34 gallons in 2017.

Socioeconomic disparities have also contributed to the rising numbers. These disparities may explain the lower life expectancies among persons with lower socioeconomic status in the United States, says CDC.

From 2011 to 2017, nine states -- Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, and Virginia -- saw the highest binge drinking, according to the report. This rate fell in two states, Massachusetts and West Virginia, while 39 states and the District of Columbia, showed no significant change.

The CDC suggests that regulating alcohol outlet density might reduce binge drinking and its related harms. "Evidence-based prevention strategies, such as regulating the number of alcohol outlets in a local geographic area, could reduce binge drinking and related harms," writes CDC in its report.

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