Is Grandma a Binge Drinker?

"I either don't drink at all, or I drink too much."

It is a classic quote from a confirmed binge drinker--one whose primary intention is to become intoxicated by heavy consumption of alcohol over a short period of time. According to the CDC, more than 38 million Americans binge drink around eight drinks in a sitting, four times per month. But, most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent or alcoholics.

Binge drinking is usually associated with teens and college-aged kids, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC") just released a study revealing that adults over 65 years old binge drink more frequently than any other age group.

More young adults, ages 18 to 34 participate in binge drinking than any other age group, but it is the over-65 crowd that binge-drinks most frequently: an average of five to six times each month. The study describes binge drinking as four or more drinks for a woman and five or more drinks for a man.

Binge drinking has also been found among the baby boomers. A study published in "The American Journal of Psychiatry" in 2009 uncovered binge drinking in 22 percent of men and 9 percent of women who were 50 - 64 years old.

"Binge drinking by adults has a huge public health impact, and influences the drinking behavior of underage youth by the example it sets," said Pamela S. Hyde, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrator, in a statement. "We need to reduce binge drinking by adults to prevent the immediate and long–term effects it has on the health of adults and youth."

According to the CDC, this behavior greatly increases the chances of getting hurt or hurting others due to car crashes, violence, and suicide. Drinking too much, including binge drinking, causes 80,000 deaths in the US each year and, in 2006 cost the economy $223.5 billion. Binge drinking is a problem in all states, even in states with fewer binge drinkers, because they are binging more often and in larger amounts.

So, the next time you see grandma with a beer bong, ask her if she knows what she's doing.

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