Binge Drinking Beyond the Binge

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on January 18, 2018 · 0 comments

Binge drinking, five or more drinks on one occasion for men and four of more drinks for women, not only suggests risky alcohol use but it is occurring with greater frequency in all age groups. Though binge drinking is often associated with college-aged adults, the prevalence of binge drinking in those over 60 is increasing yearly especially among women.

Binge drinking episodes by themselves are troubling but newer research is suggesting that more adults are engaging in extreme binge drinking. Researchers from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimated that 32 million adults in the US drank more than twice the amount defined as binge drinking sometime within the last year and many drank even more. The researchers divided binge drinkers into three groups.

  • Level 1 – Women 4 to 7 drinks; men 5 to 9 drinks on one occasion
  • Level 2 – Women 8 to 11 drinks; men 10 to 14 drinks on one occasion
  • Level 3 – Women 12 or more drinks; men 15 or more drinks on one occasion

It may seem inconceivable that a person could consume that much alcohol in a few hours and still be conscious, but it happens. In a survey of over 10,000 college students close to 50% of men and 30% of women drank two or more times the minimum level defined as binge drinking sometime in the last two weeks. It has been estimated that four out of every 10 young adults binge drinks on average four times each month. An even sadder statistic, from the survey Monitoring the Future, close to 11% of 12th graders report drinking 10 or more drinks and close to 6% drink more than 15 drinks at some time in the last two weeks.

Failing to remember and blackouts occurs in at least 50% of those with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.22%. BACs of 0.36% can cause death. Binging at Level 3, a 135-female or a 160-pound male would reach a BAC of more than 0.30% in four hours.

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