Excessive drinking measures reflect the percent of adults who report either binge drinking, defined as consuming more than four (women) or five (men) alcoholic beverages on a single occasion in the past 30 days, or heavy drinking, defined as drinking more than one (women) or two (men) drinks per day on average.
Unlike moderate drinking, binge drinking is unequivocally bad. It is a leading preventable cause of death, killing about 79,000 Americans annually and shortening lives by an average of about 30 years.
Binge drinkers consume an average of eight drinks at a time. They tend to be men younger than 35 who earn more than $50,000 a year. They drink heavily about once a week. Even binge drinkers over 65 years old consume more than six drinks at a time.
Heavy drinking is certainly a health hazard, raising the risk of liver disease, heart disease, depression, stroke and several types of cancer. But it also leads to injury and accidental death. Alcohol is a factor in about 60 percent of fatal burn injuries, drownings, and homicides; 50 percent of trauma injuries and sexual assaults, and 40 percent of fatal motor-vehicle crashes, suicides, and fatal falls.
Locally, Denton County has the highest percentage of excessive drinkers, at 16 percent, matching the state’s average. Dallas and Tarrant come in at 15 percent, matching the overall country’s average. Collin County falls below the others, at 13 percent.