Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center

Font Size

CDC: 1 in 6 U.S. Adults Is a Binge Drinker

Problem More Widespread Than Thought, Linked to Car Crashes, Violence, STDs, Death
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Jan. 10, 2012 -- About 1 in 6 U.S. adults binge drinks, according to a new CDC report. That's 38 million people who overindulge.

They do so an average of about four times a month, sometimes downing eight drinks at a sitting.

"Binge drinking is defined as consuming four or more drinks on one occasion for a woman and five or more drinks for a man," says Ursula Bauer, PhD, MPH, director of the CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. She spoke at a news conference today discussing the new research.

"Binge drinking is most common among 18- to 34-year-olds,'' she says. They average about 9.3 drinks each occasion.

However, the researchers found that those age 65 and over who did report binge drinking tended to binge drink more often -- five or six times a month.

The new data is published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Who Binge Drinks?

Among the other findings:

  • The income group making more than $75,000 a year has the most binge drinkers.
  • Those making less than $25,000 binge the most often and have an average of eight to nine drinks each occasion.
  • Habits vary from state to state. About 11% of Utah adults binge drink. Nearly 26% of Wisconsin residents do.

A Serious Problem

Robert Brewer, MD, MPH, the alcohol program lead at the CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, calls the new findings ''alarming."

Excess alcohol use, including binge drinking, is responsible for about 80,000 deaths annually in the U.S., the CDC says. It cost the economy about $223.5 billion in 2006.

Binge drinking increases the chances of getting hurt or hurting others, the researchers say. It is linked with car accidents, violence, and suicide. It increases the risk of unplanned pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). It can also lead to alcohol dependence, according to the CDC.

Perhaps surprisingly, however, "most binge drinkers are not alcoholics or alcohol-dependent," Bauer says.

The data on binge drinking come from the 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. The report looked at self-reports of binge drinking within the past 30 days. It polled more than 450,000 U.S. adults 18 and above.

Today on WebMD

child ignored by parents
prescription pain pills
Woman experiencing withdrawal symptoms
Teen girl huddled outside house
Man with glass of scotch
overturned shot glass
assortment of medication
Depressed and hurting