How Much and How Often?

Binge Drinking
The more alcohol a person consumes, the more likely he or she is to experience negative consequences. Binge drinking has a significant impact on college students' academic performance, social relationships, risk taking behaviors, and health. Binge drinking is defined as:

  • a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 gram-percent or above. For a typical adult, this pattern corresponds to consuming 5 or more drinks (male), or 4 or more drinks (female), in about 2 hours.

While few heavy-drinking college students view their alcohol use as excessive or potentially problemmatic, half of those who are frequent binge drinkers - three or more times in a two-week period - report experiencing five or more negative consequences related to an incident (Wechsler and Nelson, 2008).

Nationally, binge drinking rates appear to be declining.

Alcohol Abstention

Alcohol abstention rates are increasing among college students and other 18-24 year olds. (Monitoring the Future National Survey 1975-2009). Abstention is defined as:

  • no alcohol use in past 30 days

UC Berkeley. At UC Berkeley, the binge drinking and alcohol abstention trend look slightly different than the national trend for both new students and undergraduates in general.

Among First Year Students
Fall 2012. UC Berkeley first year students continue to drink at rates lower than the national average. We have more non-drinkers and fewer high risk drinkers (shown in graph below).

consumption how much

Trend for 2007-2012. However binge drinking and alcohol abstention rates are trending in the opposite direction of the national trend. While our rates are still lowers overall, the percent of Non-Drinkers has decreased from 69% to 65% since 2007 and the percent of high risk/binge drinkers has increased from 13% to 18%.

Among All Undergraduates

Fall 2012:

  • 21.1% of all Cal undergraduates were non-drinkers (past 30 days), on par with the 21.0% national average. (NCHA, 2012)
  • 26.4% of all undergraduates reported binge drinking in the past two weeks compared to national average estimates that range from 33% to 43% (NCHA, 2010; Johnston, 2005)
  • 40.9% of all undergraduate drinkers reported binge drinking in the previous two weeks. (CSS, 2012)

Trend for 2008-2012.
Among all undergraduates at UC Berkeley since 2008, rates of Non-Drinkers have decreased from 36% to 31% and rates of High Risk/Binge Drinkers have increased from 18% to 23% of students.

consumption how much undergrad

Drinking Home

Last revised: July 2013

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