Does Binge Drinking Mean I’m an Alcoholic?

Binge drinking is very common among college students, and as many as 40% of college students report binge drinking within the past 30 days. Binge drinking means rapidly drinking enough to get drunk in one sitting. For men, this typically means 5 drinks, and for women, typically 4 drinks. Students report binge drinking for a lot of different reasons. Some say they binge drink to deal with stress or anxiety, and others say they binge drink to relax, have a good time, or to fit in.


Although fairly common among college students, binge drinking is related to a number of negative outcomes:

  1. Damaging the liver and organs
  2. Physical and sexual assault
  3. Increasing risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, or stroke
  4. Exacerbating the symptoms of another chronic illness
  5. Accidents and death, including incidents related to drunk driving

While these outcomes should not be minimized or ignored, most binge drinkers are not alcoholics. Many students who binge drink, drink too much on occasion (once a month or less), other times drink in moderation, and can go long periods of time without drinking. However, for some students, binge drinking is how they regularly consume alcohol. This can become problematic by creating a dependence on alcohol, negatively impacting daily life, and increasing the risk of experiencing the negative outcomes listed above.

If you are worried that your drinking is getting out of control, its okay to ask for help. The Student Counseling Center has a number of great resources. If you are worried about a friend who may be struggling with drinking or drug use, consider reaching out to them and offering support.

Want to learn more? The Wellness Initiative is hosting Seeing Double: Separating Substance Use Fact from Fiction – a one-day program on January 24th, 2017 that will provide students with information about alcohol and marijuana use.  Join us all day long to “Test Your Vision” in interactive activities, get your questions about alcohol and drug use answered from an expert panel, and learn the latest science behind alcohol and marijuana use at our evening keynote address.


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