The latest estimates to come out of a survey conducted by the Centers of Disease Control reveal that binge drinking–defined as four or more alcoholic drinks per occasion for women and five or more for men–is highest in wealthier adults (with annual household incomes of $75,000 or more) and among high school students. About 33 million Americans are binge drinkers. Most are not alcoholics.
In an NPR.org piece on these latest findings, Scott Hensley writes, “Now, it’s probably obvious that binge drinking isn’t so good for your health. In the short run drinking like that contributes to accidents and sexual transmission of disease. Keep it up, and there’s liver damage and a higher risk for heart disease and stroke.”
Naturally, these numbers are not to be taken lightly. According to the CDC, binge drinking was the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States and it annually accounted for, on average, approximately 79,000 deaths per year during 2001 and 2005.
The problem, though bad, isn’t much worse than it’s been in recent years. In 1993, the CDC says, about 14 percent of adults had gone on drinking binges. But as Dr. Thomas Frieden, head of the CDC put it, “Because binge drinking is not recognized as a problem, it has not decreased in 15 years.”