Binge Drinking



Why do we measure binge drinking?

Excessive alcohol use is a common public health issue in the U.S. In particular, binge drinking—when an individual consumes a high number of drinks on a single occasion—is linked to significant economic costs and early death.(1,2) Car crashes, falls, burns, alcohol poisoning, and violence are all more likely among those who binge drink. Cancer, memory and learning problems, sexually transmitted diseases, and chronic diseases, such as stroke, heart disease, and liver disease, are also more widespread, as are fetal alcohol syndrome, poor pregnancy outcomes, and sudden infant death syndrome.(3,4) For all of these reasons, reducing binge drinking would lower spending on health care and criminal justice and improve workplace productivity.(2)

Binge drinking is especially high among white residents, males, adults aged 18-34 years, and those with higher household incomes, and rates of intense binge drinking are greatest in American Indian/ Native Alaskan populations.(5)

How do we measure binge drinking?

This metric includes women, aged 18 or older, who report consuming more than four alcoholic drinks on one occasion or men, aged 18 or older, who report consuming over five alcoholic drinks on one occasion.

Strengths of Metric

Limitations of Metric

Binge drinking can have negative health effects for both the drinker and people around them, especially through car accidents.(4)

Measuring binge drinking among adults can reveal larger societal norms and expectations about drinking culture.(4)

Aspects of the metric are open to interpretation as some people surveyed may not know the definition of a standard drink or the time length of an occasion of drinking.(4)

The data do not capture binge drinking among youth, only respondents aged 18 or older.

The metric is self-reported and depends on the accuracy of the person surveyed.


Binge drinking is calculated by the following formula:

Binge Drinking Formula

This metric was calculated by aggregating estimates from smaller geographies to the congressional district level. For more information, please refer to the Congressional District Health Dashboard Technical Document.

Data Source

Estimates for this metric are from one year modeled PLACES Project Data (formerly 500 Cities Project) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Years of Collection

Calculated by the Dashboard Team using data from 2020, 1 year modeled estimate.


  1. Stahre M, Roeber J, Kanny D, Brewer RD, Zhang X. Contribution of Excessive Alcohol Consumption to Deaths and Years of Potential Life Lost in the United States. 2014.

  2. Bouchery EE, Harwood HJ, Sacks JJ, Simon CJ, Brewer RD. Economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption in the U.S., 2006. Am J Prev Med. 2011;41(5):516-524.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fact Sheets - Binge Drinking. Updated June 7, 2017; Accessed February 15, 2018.

  4. Kuntsche E, Kuntsche S, Thrul J, Gmel G. Binge drinking: Health impact, prevalence, correlates and interventions. Psychology & Health. 2017;32(8):976-1017.

  5. Kanny D, Liu Y, Brewer RD, Lu H. Binge drinking—United States, 2011. Morbidity and mortality weekly report Surveillance summaries (Washington, DC : 2002). 2013;62(Suppl 3):77-80.

Last updated: February 20, 2024