After maintaining a steady rate for nearly 15 years, researchers at the CDC report than binge drinking is on the rise. According to statistics gathered in a 2010 survey the percentage of the population that binge drinks, defined as 4 or more drinks in one sitting for women and 5 drinks for men, has risen from 15% to 17.1%. While young adults, ages 18-24, are still the most common binge drinkers, it is the 65 and over population that is binge drinking most frequently.
To conduct their research the CDC took a random telephone survey of 457,677 adults. On average they found that those who met the criteria for binge drinking did so on average 4 times a month and consumed almost 8 drinks per sitting.
Those aged 18-24 had the highest number of binge drinkers, 28.2% of the population and drank the most on each occasion, a little over 9 drinks. 25- 34 year olds were right behind them at 27.9%.Both demographics tended to binge drink on average 4 times a month. In the 65 and older group, those who binge drink reported doing so 5.5 times a month.
The study also found an economic effect on binge drinking. Households that earned $75,000 or more a year reported the highest number of binge drinkers, whereas those living in households that earn less than $25,000 a year binge drink more frequently. They also discovered the Whites and Hispanics were more likely to binge drink than African Americans and men are more often binge drinkers than women.
The CDC reported their findings in their latest “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report” and warns that while some do not take binge drinking seriously it can lead to major health problems. Over a 4 year period between 2001 and 2005, binge drinking was responsible for some 80,000 fatalities and an estimated 2.3 million years of potential life loss in America alone.
Excessive alcohol use can lead to problems like heart disease, increased cancer risks and liver failure prompting concern that it may be time for government and state organizations to step up their initiatives on alcohol education and binge drinking prevention programs. Some suggest limiting access to alcohol by raising prices, limiting the number of liquor licenses given out in a certain area, and reducing the amount of days per week and hours per day that retailers are allowed to sell alcohol.