Binge, heavy drinking up in Maryland, study shows

By Meredith Cohn, The Baltimore Sun

Binge drinking in Maryland is on the rise, driven in large part by women whose rate jumped 34.7 percent from 2005 to 2012, according to new estimates published online Thursday in the Journal of Public Health.

Overall the increase was about 20.8 percent in Maryland for such drinking. That compares with a rise of 8.9 percent nationally, according to the study by researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Binge drinking is considered four drinks for women and five for men in a short period of time and has been linked to increased risk of injury and alcohol poisoning.

Montgomery County experienced the fastest rise in binge drinking in the time frame, and Queen Anne's had the highest level of binge drinkers in 2012 with nearly a quarter of residents, the study found.

Heavy drinking is also on the rise in Maryland, increasing 25.7 percent, compared with 17.2 percent nationally. Heavy drinking is considered one drink for men and two drinks for women a day over 30 days and is associated with increased risk for heart disease, cancer and other long-term maladies.

In 2012, just over half of all Americans drank any amount of alcohol, a rate that hasn't changed much in recent years. But just over 8 percent are now considered heavy drinkers and 18.3 percent were binge drinkers, numbers about the same in Maryland.