Binge drinkers may not drink every day. They may drink weekly or less often, although studies show most drink about twice a week. They may or may not be addicted to alcohol.
Binge drinking statistics tell us that binge drinking peaks between the ages of 18 and 22. Many of these drinkers are college students. However, high school students binge drink as well. Statistics indicate that binge drinking often begins as young as 13 years of age.
The Dangers of Binge Drinking
There are a large number of dangers of binge drinking. Health-related binge drinking statistics can be alarming. The following health problems have been found to be associated with binge drinking:
- Alcohol poisoning.
- Liver disease.
- High blood pressure, stroke, and other forms of cardiovascular disease.
- Neurological damage.
- Sexually transmitted diseases.
- Unintentional pregnancy.
- Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (if pregnant women binge drink).
- Unintentional injuries (such as car accidents, falls, etc.).
- Intentional injuries (such as injuries from firearms, domestic violence, etc.).
In addition, it should be noted that the younger one begins drinking, the more likely they are to develop alcohol dependence. For instance, nearly 25% of those who begin drinking alcohol before the age of 17 become alcoholics, compared to 10% of those who begin drinking alcohol after 21 years of age.
Alcohol poisoning is one of the greatest dangers of binge drinking. It is a serious condition that can occur when the blood alcohol concentration rises too high. Symptoms include severe vomiting, depressed respirations, and seizures. It can result in coma and even death. Alcohol poisoning requires medical attention and often requires hospitalization in order to stabilize and monitor the patient. Binge drinking is not the only cause of alcohol poisoning, but it is a common cause.
Prevalence of Binge Drinking
The binge drinking statistics tell us that binge drinking as a whole is on the decline, yet it is still very common. Consider the following statistics:
- Binge drinking is most common between ages 18 and 22.
- 42% of college students report binge drinking.
- One in five college students is a frequent (weekly) binge drinker.
- Half of all students who binge drink do so more than once a week.
- Two-thirds of alcohol consumed by college students is consumed by binge drinkers.
- 60% of all problems with the police on college campuses (such as injuries, vandalism, etc.) involve binge drinkers.
College students often over-estimate the number of their peers who drink, however, and the amount of alcohol consumed by their peers, creating a false sense of pressure to drink.
Preventing Binge Drinking
Binge drinking statistics tell us that the following interventions help to reduce the incidence of binge drinking:
- Reduce access to alcohol on college campus by having fewer stores selling alcohol nearby.
- Education by high schools and colleges about the dangers of binge drinking.
- Physician screening, counseling, and referral for treatment of alcohol problems.
Some also suggest raising the cost of alcoholic beverages and taxes on alcohol to prevent binge drinking. As you may imagine, this strategy is at best controversial. However, it would likely cut down on alcohol abuse altogether, not just binge drinking. It would particularly cut down on alcohol use and abuse among young people, who have less discretionary income, and might have a fairly significant impact on underage drinking.