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The Dangers of Binge Drinking in Young Adults

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The Dangers of Binge Drinking in Young Adults

Alcohol Awareness Month was created by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence as a public health program to spread awareness about the dangers of alcohol. Created in April 1987, the program targeted college-aged students who might be abusing alcohol due to their newfound freedom. The NCADD spreads awareness about the causes and effects of alcoholism, how to find treatment, and how to help families and communities deal with alcoholism.

Binge Drinking in Young Adults

Binge drinking is the most common form of excessive alcohol use in America. Binge drinking is consuming five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women. Binge drinking leads to a higher risk of alcohol use disorder.

According to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 60.0 million people were binge-alcohol users in the past month. Out of that number, 9.8 million young adults aged 18-25 binge drank in the past month. The NSDUH survey found that 14.9% of 18–25-year-olds met the criteria for past year alcohol use disorder.

Below, you can find the percentages of binge drinking across different ages.

This table shows that binge drinking is most common among younger ages.

Short and Long-Term Effects

The effects of excessive drinking immediately impact your health and can linger for years after stopping binge drinking. The immediate health risks of binge drinking include:

  • Injuries such as car crashes, falls, drownings, and burns
  • Violence such as homicide, suicide, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence
  • Alcohol poisoning

Long-term health risks include:

  • High blood pressure, stroke, liver disease, heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Learning and memory problems
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Social problems when it comes to family or jobs

According to the Centers for Disease Control, excessive alcohol use causes more than 140,000 deaths in the United States each year. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that 1,519 college students ages 18-24 and 2,586 people the same age die from alcohol-related injuries.

Economic Costs of Binge Drinking

Binge drinking affects a lot more than the people who participate. In 2010, drinking alcohol cost the United States $249 billion. This comes out to about $2.05 per drink. Most of the cost came from losses in workplace productivity, health care expenses, and a combination of criminal justice expenses, motor vehicle crash costs, and property damage. Binge drinking accounted for three quarters of the cost. For every $5 spent on drinking costs, $2 were paid by local, state, and federal governments.

All Americans are paying for excessive alcohol use regardless of if you consume it or not. Alcohol Awareness Month helps spread awareness about the dangers of alcohol use. If you’re looking for more ways to help prevent excessive alcohol use, check out these preventative measures that can help protect yourself and loved ones.

How AFSPA Can Help

Foreign Service Benefit Plan (FSBP) members that are experiencing excessive alcohol use can receive help from AbleTo. AbleTo is a personalized web-based eight-week support program. Through this program, members will work with the same coach and therapist to develop healthy lifestyle changes.

MyStrength through Teladoc Health provides evidence-based resources to help overcome obstacles like substance use disorder. This program focuses on using interactive web and mobile applications to improve total well-being while using psychotherapy models to improve outcomes related to alcohol abuse. Learn more about other wellness programs offered by FSBP.


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