Binge/Excessive Drinking

High binge drinking clustered in young adults and in neighborhoods around the Ship Canal.


Binge drinking is defined here as consuming 5 or more alcoholic drinks on a single occasion for men, or 4 or more for women. Excessive alcohol use is associated with many chronic health problems, as well as near-term risk of injury to oneself and others from automobile injury or assault. In King County for 2011-2015, 20% of adults reported binge drinking at least once in the past month.

  • Region and city/neighborhood: Neighborhoods where rates of binge drinking were above the county average were clustered north and south of the Ship Canal in Seattle: QA/Magnolia (35%), Ballard (34%), Capitol Hill/E. Lake (32%), Fremont/Green Lake (29%) and Downtown (28%). These neighborhoods contributed to Seattle (26%) having a higher rate than South, East and North Regions.

  • Age:  Younger adults are at greater risk of binge drinking. 28% of those ages 18-24 and 25-44 reported binge drinking compared to only 15% of those age 45-64 and 6% of those 65 and older

  • Gender: Men were more likely to binge drink than women (24% and 16%, respectively). This held true in every age group except 18 to 24 year olds, where data is limited (data not shown).

  • Sexual orientation: Lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults (28%) were more likely to binge drink than the county average.

  • Race/ethnicity: Asian adults were less likely than King County overall to report binge drinking at 11%. White respondents were more likely at 22%.

  • Trends: The rate of binge drinking has increased from 16% in 2005-2007 to 20% in 2013-2015. The trend for adults is notably different than for teens [hyperlink], whose rates of binge drinking decreased from 15% to 10% over a similar time period.


Notes & Sources

Source: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 

Numerator: People who responded 1 or more times to the question: “Considering all types of alcoholic beverages, how many times during the past 30 days did you have [5 for men, 4 for women] or more drinks on an occasion?”

Denominator: All respondents who answered the question.

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System collects information on the health and safety of Washington residents aged 18 and older. Every year, the Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conduct the survey primarily through telephone interviews, including landline and cellphone numbers. To learn more about the survey, please go to:

For information about teen binge drinking, see Teen Binge Drinking