Defined as drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion
(i.e., within a few hours) on at least 1 day in the past
30 days.Source: U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration. (2002, September 3). Results from the
2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse: Volume II.
Technical Appendices and Selected Data Tables Series H-18 (Office
of Applied Studies, NHSDA Series H-18 ed.) (BKD462,
SMA 02-3759)Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Almost half of Americans aged 12 or older reported being current
drinkers of alcohol in the 2001 survey (48.3 percent). This
translates to an estimated 109 million people. Both the rate
of alcohol use and the number of drinkers increased from 2000,
when 104 million, or 46.6 percent, of people aged 12 or olderreported drinking in the past 30 days.
Approximately one fifth (20.5 percent) of persons aged
12 or older participated in binge drinking at least once
in the 30 days prior to the survey. Although the number
of current drinkers increased between 2000 and 2001,
the number of those reporting binge drinking did notchange significantly.
The highest prevalence of both binge and heavy drinking
in 2001 was for young adults aged 18 to 25, with the
peak rate occurring at age 21. The rate of binge drinking
was 38.7 percent for young adults and 48.2 percent at
age 21. Heavy alcohol use was reported by 13.6 percent
of persons aged 18 to 25, and by 17.8 percent of persons
aged 21. Binge and heavy alcohol use rates decreased
faster with increasing age than did rates of past month
alcohol use. While 55.2 percent of the population aged
45 to 49 in 2001 were current drinkers, 19.1 percent
of persons within this age range binge drank and 5.4
percent drank heavily (Figure 3.1). Binge and heavy drinking
were relatively rare among people aged 65 or older, withreported rates of 5.8 and 1.4 percent, respectively.
Among youths aged 12 to 17, an estimated 17.3 percent used
alcohol in the month prior to the survey interview. This
rate was higher than the rate of youth alcohol use reported
in 2000 (16.4 percent). Of all youths, 10.6 percent were
binge drinkers, and 2.5 percent were heavy drinkers. These
are roughly the same percentages as those reported in 2000(10.4 and 2.6 percent, respectively).
Heavy use - Five or more drinks on the same occasion on
at least 5 different days in the past 30 daysSource: U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services. Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Services Administration. (2002, September 4). Results
from the 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse: Volume
I. Summary of National Findings (Office of Applied Studies,
NHSDA Series H-17 ed.) (BKD461, SMA 02-3758)Washington,DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Studies show that more than 35 percent of adults with an alcohol
problem developed symptoms—such as binge drinking—by
age 19. Long-term use risks liver damage, pancreatitis, certain
cancers, and literal shrinkage of the brain. Alcohol use is
the second-leading cause of dementia; one simply ages quicker
on alcohol. In 1998, there were 15,935 alcohol-related deaths
in vehicular crashes. Though most college drinkers would deny
it, young people do die solely from drinking. In 1995, 318
people ages 15 to 24 died from alcohol poisoning alone, many
of them after a night binge at college. At the University
of Virginia, a tradition that has seniors drinking a fifth
of hard liquor at the final game of the football season (the
so-called "Fourth-year Fifth") has killed 18 studentssince 1990.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services. SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Prevention.
Prevention Alert: The Binge Drinking Epidemic (Volume
5, Number 6 ed.) Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing