Excessive alcohol use is a leading preventable cause of death in the United States, shortening the lives of those who die by an average of 26 years. Excessive alcohol use includes:
- Binge drinking, defined as consuming 4 or more drinks on an occasion for a woman or 5 or more drinks on an occasion for a man.
- Heavy drinking, defined as 8 or more drinks per week for a woman or 15 or more drinks per week for a man.
- Any alcohol use by pregnant women or anyone younger than 21.
A small percentage of adults who drink account for half of the 35 billion total drinks consumed by US adults each year. CDC estimates that 1 in 6 US adults binge drinks [PDF – 171 KB], with 25% doing so at least weekly, on average, and 25% consuming at least 8 drinks during a binge occasion. Binge drinking is responsible for more than 40% of the deaths and three-quarters of the costs due to excessive alcohol use. States and communities can prevent binge drinking by supporting effective policies and programs, such as those recommended by the Community Preventive Services Task Force.