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Indiana Prevention Resource Center (IPRC)

Binge Drinking and Associated Health Risk Behaviors Among High School Students

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking is defined as a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level to 0.08% or above. This pattern of drinking usually corresponds to 5 or more drinks for men and 4 or more drinks for women in a single sitting.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, binge drinking is related to a number of health concerns, including:

  • Diminished decision-making abilities (Preidt 2007).
  • Chronic diseases such as liver cirrhosis (damage to liver cells), pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), various cancers (including liver, mouth, throat, larynx (the voice box), and esophagus), high blood pressure, and psychological disorders.
  • Unintentional injuries such as motor-vehicle traffic crashes, falls, drowning, burns and firearm injuries.
  • Increase in violence such as child maltreatment, homicide and suicide.
  • Harm to a developing fetus if a woman drinks while pregnant.
  • Alcohol abuse or dependence.


According to the Indiana Prevention Resource Center’s Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Use by Indiana Children and Adolescents Survey (2007), binge drinking among 6th-12th graders has been steadily declining over the last 14 years, with the exception of the last two years, when it has increased slightly. The observed increase though is likely due to moving the item to a more visible location in the survey (see the monograph). It is important to remember that binge drinking is associated with other high risk behaviors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, binge drinking among high school students is strongly associated with increased sexual activity, smoking, and violence.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2007). Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved on July 3, 2007, from http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm.
Gassman, R., Jun, M.K., Samuel, S., Martin, E.V., Lee, J., Agley, J.D., Athavale, A.m., Choi, R.U., Hewitt, N.K., Ickes, N.L., Lim, H.J., Mawanda, F., Mueller, E.A., Park, S.J., Pelto-Wheeler, S.J., Roditis, M.L., Shin, H., Smith, D.C., Smith, N.R., and Wells, T.J. (2007). Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Use by Indiana Children and Adolescents: The Indiana Prevention Resource Center Survey – 2007 (IDAP Monograph No. 07-01). Bloomington, In: Indiana Prevention Resource Center.
National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. NIAAA council approves definition of binge drinking (PDF–1.6Mb) NIAAA Newsletter 2004; 3: 3.
Preidt, R. (2007). College Binge Drinking Related to Diminished Decision-Making Abilities. Retrieved on June 28, 2007, from http://www.kwqc.com/Global/story.asp?S=6566044.

by Sarah J. Stephens, 11/15/2007