Introduction: Binge drinking (four or more drinks for women, five or more drinks for men on an occasion) accounts for more than half of the 88,000 U.S. deaths resulting from excessive drinking annually. Adult binge drinkers do so frequently and at high intensity; however, there are known disparities in binge drinking that are not well characterized by any single binge-drinking measure. A new measure of total annual binge drinks was used to assess these disparities at the state and national levels.
Methods: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 2015 data (analyzed in 2016) were used to estimate the prevalence, frequency, intensity, and total binge drinks among U.S. adults. Total annual binge drinks was calculated by multiplying annual binge-drinking episodes by binge-drinking intensity.
Results: In 2015, a total of 17.1% of U.S. adults (37.4 million) reported an annual average of 53.1 binge-drinking episodes per binge drinker, at an average intensity of 7.0 drinks per binge episode, resulting in 17.5 billion total binge drinks, or 467.0 binge drinks per binge drinker. Although binge drinking was more common among young adults (aged 18-34 years), half of the total binge drinks were consumed by adults aged ≥35 years. Total binge drinks per binge drinker were substantially higher among those with lower educational levels and household incomes than among those with higher educational levels and household incomes.
Conclusions: U.S. adult binge drinkers consume about 17.5 billion total binge drinks annually, or about 470 binge drinks/binge drinker. Monitoring total binge drinks can help characterize disparities in binge drinking and help plan and evaluate effective prevention strategies.
Published by Elsevier Inc.