Research & Resources

Drinking beyond the heavy episodic drinking threshold increases risk for alcohol use disorder.

The threshold of binge drinking is 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men within the time span of about 2 hours and is generally well known in the alcohol research and prevention communities. However, the implications associated with that definition may not capture the elevated risk that occurs with even higher levels of drinking. In this study, researchers used advanced techniques and a large national dataset of drinking behavior to show that the more someone drinks per episode, the higher their risk of developing an alcohol use disorder. In young adult drinkers, that risk continues to increase as people drink up to 10 drinks for women and 11 drinks for men per episode, after which it flattens out. For older adults, the risk increases as people drink up to 14 drinks per episode. The article, Flexibly modeling alcohol use disorder risk: How many drinks should we count? was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and was published in the February issue of Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.