High-intensity drinking in young adulthood

High-intensity drinkers (who have 10+ drinks in a row) drink alcohol not only in greater quantity but also in greater frequency than binge drinkers (who have 5+ drinks in a row). In a two-week period, these very big drinkers report having 10+ drinks about twice and having 5+ drinks about 3 to 5 times. At these levels of drinking, the risk for injury and other negative effects are high.


The results are part of the first study to look at high-intensity drinking across the transition to adulthood, published by YSI researchers in the fall of 2016.  Data come from 3,718 participants who provided information from age 18 thorough 26 as part of the Monitoring the Future study.


Across young adulthood, 10+ drinking unfolds much like 5+ drinking, peaking around age 21/22. High-intensity drinking then declines very steeply. The risk for drinking 10+ drinks is clearly focused in the early 20s and among college students. The findings underscore the importance of recognizing high-intensity drinkers as a unique high-risk group.


Patrick, M. E., Terry-McElrath, Y. M., Kloska, D. D., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2016). High-intensity drinking among young adults in the United States: prevalence, frequency, and developmental change. Alcoholism-Clinical and Experimental Research, 40(9). doi: 10.1111/acer.13164.


Related YSI articles:

High-intensity drinking by underage young adults in the United States

Intoxication and binge and high-intensity drinking among U.S. young adults in their mid-20’s

Beverage-specific patterns of 5+ alcoholic drink consumption by young adults in the U.S.