Alcohol Consumption Among Binge Drinkers in America Is on the Rise, According to New Study

Maria Pasquini
Alcohol Consumption Among Binge Drinkers in America Is on the Rise, According to New Study

Binge drinkers in America have been hitting the bottle harder in recent years, according to a new study published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study, which was published on Thursday, found that while the overall rates of binge drinking fell slightly between 2011 to 2017 — from 18.9 percent to 18 percent — the amount of alcohol consumed by binge drinkers increased by 12 percent.

During this time period, the total number of alcoholic beverages consumed by binge drinkers was up from 472 drinks in 2011 to 529 in 2017, with the most significant increases coming from adults aged 35 and older “with lower educational levels and household incomes.”

The CDC, which noted increases for both men and women, defines binge drinking for men as having on average at least five alcoholic beverages per occasion and at least four for women.

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According to the study, the largest increase in binge drinking was reported among adults aged 35-44 without a high school diploma (up from 646 to 942, representing a 45.8 percent rise) as well as those with yearly incomes of less than $25,000 (up from 543 to 673). A notable increase was also found among white adults.

“The finding that the total number of binge drinks consumed per U.S. adult who reported binge drinking increased significantly among those with lower education and income levels is also consistent with a recent study that found the majority of persons reporting prescription opioid misuse also are adults who reported binge drinking, and that prescription opioid misuse tends to be most common among persons with lower household incomes,” the CDC said in the study.

Increases were also observed for adults between the ages of 45 and 64, while a decrease was found among binge drinkers aged 18-24.

On a state level, Wyoming reported the highest amount of alcoholic beverages consumed per binge drinker in 2017 (1,219), while Massachusetts had the fewest (320). The study also noted increases in Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio and Virginia as well as a notable decrease in West Virginia.  

Noting the limitations of the study, the CDC shared that their findings were based on self-reported data.

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Binge drinking amounts for 1 in 10 deaths among adults in the United States between the ages of 20-64 as well as around 90 percent of adults who are excessive drinkers, according to the CDC.

A study of over 1 million people in 2018 found that heavy drinking is the biggest risk factor for developing dementia, while another study determined that heavy alcohol consumption raises the risk of heart disease and aneurysms.