Americans have big binge drinking problems according to CDC

Posted: Updated:

TEMPE, Ariz. -- A new report out by the Centers for Disease Control says one in six Americans are binge drinkers, and the number goes up to oen in four for college-age adults.

The CDC surveyed 450,000 people by telephone and found that college-aged adults who binged consumed nine drinks on average.

Older adults weren't that much better - eight drinks in a short amount of time.

The criteria for binge drinking is four drinks for a woman and five for a man in a matter of a few hours.

"It's completely socially acceptable," said Arizona State University junior Maureen Reilly. "If you're not like that it's like 'you don't fit in here.'"

She doesn't drink much, but Reilly says there's definitely pressure.

For others, the issue is just misinformation.

"I always thought of binge drinking as someone who is chugging beer out of a funnel or something like that," said graduate student Paul Henne.

And that may be part of the problem -- the perception of what binge drinking is doesn't match reality.  It's a disconnect that worries even bar owners like Kevin Rodgers.

"Society doesn't react to precautionary measures like watching binge drinking until they get the DUI, they hurt somebody in a fatality or their family is broken up because of their addiction," he said.

Experts say fewer than 20 percent of binge drinkers would be diagnosed as alcoholics.

Officials estimate that half of the alcohol sold is then consumed on a binge.

Binge drinking accounts for more than 40,000 deaths a year.