June 23, 2022 – When you think of binge drinking, you probably imagine young college students overdoing it at big weekend bashes: Kegs, shots, loud music, and bad behavior. And indeed, according to a national survey, more than half of college students (53%) reported drinking in the past month, and about 33% engaged in binge drinking.
But, despite college students’ dangerous drinking habits, it’s actually the over-30 crowd that does it most often.
New research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that most binge drinking occurs among adults 30 and older, with a recent uptick in the 50-plus crowd. While binge drinking is never a healthy practice, its bad effects go up with age.
For the purpose of the study, researchers defined binge drinking as more than five drinks on the same occasion. Nailing down the number of over-30-year-olds who binge drink is difficult because it often occurs among people who drink at what’s known as a moderate average level – defined as an average of not more than one drink a day for women, and two drinks per day for men.
Charles Holahan, PhD, of the University of Texas, co-authored the study and says his team began to research the topic because they realized patterns of drinking were often overlooked.
“This leaves many drinkers mistakenly assuming that a moderate average level of alcohol consumption is safe, regardless of drinking pattern,” he says. “A secondary, but important, concern is that research on binge drinking tends to focus on adolescents and college students. Yet, most binge drinking occurs among adults over 30.”
The nuances can be a bit confusing, but Holahan says that the study helps focus on the fact that moderate average consumption can include a binge pattern of drinking.
“For example, an average moderate drinker