Why Are Young Adults Most at Risk of Binge Drinking?

Unfortunately, many young adults don’t stop to ask what is binge drinking until its too late. The truth is that young adults are most at risk of engaging in binge drinking behavior for a number of reasons.

What Is Binge Drinking?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking occurs when a man consumes five or more drinks or a woman consumes four or more drinks within a span of two hours. Technically speaking, binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that raises the blood alcohol level to 0.08% quickly. Repeated binge drinking can lead to binge drinking addiction and alcoholism.

Why Are Young Adults at Such High Risk?

There are several factors that contribute to a young adult’s decision to drink alcohol or to binge drink. Most young adults have limited or no experience with alcohol. When they begin drinking, they often underestimate the potency of alcoholic drinks and the effect they will have on them. This can lead young adults to consume far too much alcohol in one sitting. Additionally, many young adults begin drinking or develop a habit of drinking in college. On many college campuses around the country, binge drinking and heavy partying are glorified. In order to fit in, feel like they belong with a group or follow the example of their peers, many young adults buy into the campus culture of heavy drinking. In some settings, young adults may be pressured to drink or obligated to drink heavily in order to earn admittance to a fraternity, sorority or other social group. Biology is a commonly overlooked factor in young adult drinking behavior. Young adults are still developing physically as well as socially. The frontal lobe of the brain, which is responsible for impulse control, continues developing until about age 25. Therefore, young adults are biologically predisposed to have weaker impulse control than older individuals with fully developed frontal lobes. Diminished impulse control can make it harder for a young adult to say no when peers offer drink after drink. Binge drinking can be extremely dangerous, especially for young adults who are unaware of the risks. If there’s a young adult in your life, talk to him or her about the dangers of binge drinking and offer suggestions for saying no in high-pressure situations. You can also offer to help him or her seek treatment for binge drinking.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Fact Sheets – Binge Drinking. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm Courtney, K. E. & Polich, J. (2009). Binge Drinking in Young Adults: Data, Definitions, and Determinants. Psychological Bulletin, 135(1), 142-156. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2748736/ National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2006). Young Adult Drinking. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa68/aa68.htm

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