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Signs of Binge Drinking

Learn how to recognize the signs of binge drinking in this Howcast video featuring addictions specialist Paul J. Rinaldi, Ph.D.


There's been a lot of focus in the media on what's called binge drinking. A lot of binge drinkers are younger people, at least that's what gets put in the media. We hear a lot of about binge drinkers in college and there is a great deal. We know from research, there's a great deal of binge drinking in college students and on college campuses in spite of colleges becoming less tolerant and a lot of colleges in fact have zero tolerance policies for any drinking or drug use on campus. Binge drinking does have an actual definition and that definition is five or more drinks in a single episode for men and four or more drinks in a single episode for women. And when we talk about how many drinks someone has, you have to really define what a drink is. In my practice, when people talk to me about how many drinks they have, I always ask them to define a drink because some of us define a drink, if it's hard liquor, as a typical cocktail, which is a typical shot of liquor and but often, what I find is that people will actually define a drink in a very different way so they'll define a drink as a tumbler of scotch, which is really the equivalent of four drinks if you're defining it just as a normal shot. Again, a glass of wine is generally considered six ounces. Well, some people drink, which is four to six glasses of wine in a bottle of wine so when I ask people that, sometimes they say, "I have two glasses." And for them, that's a full bottle of wine. So that's much different so when we define then one beer is one regular 12 ounce beer, not a 40, which sometimes people really talk about as one beer because it's one bottle so when we're talking about five drinks for men and four for women, we're defining that as one 12 ounce or five 12 ounce beers or four or four or five six ounce glasses of wine or four to five regular shots in a cocktail. So that's really how we define binge drinking. Binge drinkers, that doesn't mean that they drink that everyday. If they drank that everyday, it would not be called binge drinking. That would be a real alcohol use disorder. So binge drinking by definition is drinking those large amounts periodically. Again, it may be just on the weekend or it may be for college kids, the weekend often starts on Thursday so it may just be in the few days of however one defines a weekend, but not daily drinking.

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