America, We Have A Binge Drinking Problem

America, we have a binge drinking problem.

Every year in the United States about 2,200 people die from alcohol poisoning -- that's six deaths each day, on average -- according to a new Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So just who is binge drinking themselves to death in America? Primarily it's white, middle-aged men.

Though college binge drinking is often the public health focus, 76 percent of people who die from alcohol poisoning are men, with deaths most common in men aged 45-54. And 68 percent of people who die from alcohol poisoning are non-Hispanic whites, with Hispanic people a far second at 15 percent.

“This study shows that alcohol poisoning deaths are not just a problem among young people,” said CDC Alcohol Program Lead and report coauthor Robert Brewer, M.D., M.S.P.H.

While state-to-state death rates from alcohol poisoning varied, CDC's report shows that states in the Great Plains, western U.S., and New England had the highest death rates. CDC also noted that alcoholism was a contributing factor in 30 percent of the alcohol poisoning deaths and that "other drugs" were a factor in about 3 percent of the deaths.

"While this study reveals that alcohol poisoning deaths are a bigger problem than previously thought, it is likely to be an underestimate," the CDC said in a statement about the new report.

The CDC says that alcohol poisoning occurs when a large amount of alcohol is consumed in a short amount of time. More than 38 million U.S. adults report binge drinking, on average, four times per month and when they do binge, they consume an average of eight alcoholic drinks during a given time. Women who consume four or more drinks and men who consume five or more in a single sitting are considered binge drinkers, according to the CDC.

Scientists at CDC examined alcohol poisoning deaths among Americans age 15 and older using data from the National Vital Statistics System for 2010-2013.

Of course CDC recommends avoiding binge drinking entirely, but adds that when drinking alcohol adults should avoid drinks with an unknown amount of alcohol content or mixing alcohol with caffeinated energy drinks because caffeine can mask alcohol's effects and can lead to drinking more than intended. Women should not exceed one drink a day and men should not exceed two drinks a day, according to the CDC's dietary guidelines for alcohol.

Before You Go