Frequent Binge Drinking Drops among U.S. Adolescents

The proportion of young people in the US who drink alcohol has been declining since 1980. Also, the amount each consumer drinks has also been going down over time. And fewer young people have been binge drinking. Now major research reports that frequent binge drinking has been dropping as well. And it’s been declining for well over four decades.

The Study: Frequent Binge Drinking

Researchers studied the drinking of over one million (1,065,022) students. The federal government funds for this national sample. It was of 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students. The samples were collected for over three decades as part of the Monitoring the Future annual survey.

Frequent Binge DrinkingThe survey defines frequent binge drinking precisely. It’s having five or more drinks in a row on two or more occasions during the past two weeks. Yet it doesn’t specify any length of time for the drinking to occur. For example, it can be over an entire day. So the definition doesn’t require a “binge drinker” to be intoxicated!

Alcohol researchers, the New York Times, and others have objected to the illogical nature of this definition. But changing it now would create a serious problem. It would be impossible to compare the results over time. Thus, we’re stuck with a definition that magnifies the extent of bingeing.

The Findings

Frequent binge drinking among 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students has been dropping significantly over three decades. It has also been dropping among sex, race, and socio-economic categories.

The declines among African Americans have been somewhat slower. But those rates were much lower to begin with. And there’s also been a narrowing in the different rates for males and females. This continues a long term trend in drinking between the sexes.


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