What Defines Binge Drinking?

Binge Drinking
Over 80,000 deaths occur in the United States each year as a result of alcohol use taken to the extreme, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Binge drinking is a definitive form of drinking, but it does not define all forms of drinking. Drinking can and does take place in a normal, regulated manner, that isn’t considered binge drinking. Most “social” drinking, however, would fall into the category of binge drinking. Ninety percent of drinking adults in the United States are binge drinking when they go out drinking, though they may not realize it. What most people consider to be their one night out, their occasional party, or maybe even their weekly, or bi-weekly, drinking ritual is actually a harmful and abusive way to consume alcohol. Binge drinking is not necessarily a form of alcoholism as binge drinkers aren’t necessarily chemically dependent upon alcohol. However, consistent binge drinking can lead to the development of alcoholism. In addition, binge drinking is proven to have some adverse effects. There is a greater risk for developing an illness, having a heart attack, or stroke, after an episode of binge drinking.

Binge Drinking Defined

Various government institutions have defined binge drinking as any manner of drinking which elevates the blood alcohol concentration level to or above 0.08 percent within a two hour period. Sometimes using the term “occasion”, the two hour period is considered a drinking “occasion”. By gender, due to metabolic differences, that equates to about four drinks for women and five drinks for men on a specific drinking “occasion”, or within a two hour period.


The definition is further refined depending on the drink. Not all drinks are created equal. For example, just a 1.5 ounce shot of hard liquor counts as a single drink. Having a mixed drink with multiple shots in it is not one drink, but multiple drinks. Just a 5 ounce serving of wine is considered a single drink as well. Beer, on the other hand, is dependent upon alcohol content and size. Some beers could be considered two drinks instead of just one. Most people are engaging in “binge drinking” behavior without even realizing it. In the process, they are harming their liver, their brain, their body, and potentially laying the groundwork for a future chemical dependency problem.