In the January 11, 2013 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Kanny and her colleagues reported that one in eight women and one in five high school girls engaged in binge drinking in the US.  Binge drinking was most prevalent among women aged 18–24 years (24.2%) and 25–34 years (19.9%), and among those from households with annual incomes of ≥$75,000 (16.0%). Among high school girls, the prevalence of current alcohol use was 37.9%, the prevalence of binge drinking was 19.8%, and the prevalence of binge drinking among girls who reported current alcohol use was 54.6%.

Binge drinking is a risk factor in deaths due to excessive alcohol use (1) , unintentional injuries, violence, liver disease, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancers, reduced cognitive function, and alcohol dependence.  It may also increase the risk for acquiring HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancy, miscarriage, and low birth weight.  If a women binge drinks during pregnancy, the fetus may be exposed to high blood alcohol concentrations, thus increasing the risk for sudden infant death syndrome, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

In 2011, the North Carolina Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services was awarded a SBIRT (screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment) grant from the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The purpose of SBIRT is to identify individuals with potential substance use disorders in a primary care setting and to implement an appropriate intervention. Widespread implementation of SBIRT would potentially decrease the prevalence of binge drinking among women and high school girls.

Kanny D, Liu Y, Brewer RD, Eke PI, Cox SN, Cheal NE, Green Y.  Vital signs:  binge drinking among women and high school girls—United States, 2011.  MMWR, 2013:62(1);9-13.

(1) Excessive alcohol use was defined as binge drinking (four or more drinks per occasion), heavy drinking (more than one drink per day on average), any alcohol consumption by pregnant women, and any alcohol consumption by youth under the age of 21.

FACT SHEET – Impact of Substance Abuse among NC Adolescent Girls Aged 12-17