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Do Californians love to binge drink? New CDC study looks at U.S. alcohol habits

Rancho Cordova police give drivers DUI warning ahead of St. Patrick's Day

The Rancho Cordova Police Department posted this video March 16 to give drivers some tips on how to stay safe and avoid DUIs during St. Patrick's Day celebrations this weekend.
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The Rancho Cordova Police Department posted this video March 16 to give drivers some tips on how to stay safe and avoid DUIs during St. Patrick's Day celebrations this weekend.

A pile of data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from a newly released study on alcohol found that U.S. adults binge—not just drink, but binge—as many as 17 billion drinks every year.

Part of a study conducted in 2015 and published this week by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine researchers, the findings are subcategorized a number of ways, but here are the overall highlights: Americans drink a lot, one in every six adults binges weekly, binge rates are much higher among people with low household incomes and the average binge is seven alcoholic beverages.

For reference, a binge is defined as four or more drinks for women, and five or more for men. Men are responsible for about 80 percent of the binges, according to an accompanying CDC news release.

"This study shows that binge drinkers are consuming a huge number of drinks per year, greatly increasing their chances of harming themselves and others," one of the study's authors, Dr. Robert Brewer, states.

The study's intro notes that binge drinking results in nearly 45,000 deaths annually across the U.S. The study was based on self-reported data from phone surveys of more than 400,000 respondents.

The results include in-depth numbers for all 50 states and D.C.

Diving into those numbers, where does California fall?

In the middle of the pack, roughly. In terms of the prevalence of binge-drinking, California ranks 30th at 16.7 percent. North Dakota (24.9 percent), Wisconsin (24.4) and D.C. (24.4) make up the worst offenders by prevalence; the least guilty are Tennessee (10.9), Utah (11.4) and West Virginia (11.8).

Californians average 6.5 drinks per binge, on the lower end. And those classified as binge drinkers average 48.0 binge "episodes" per year; less than one a week and good for sixth-lowest on the list.

However, due to our state's population and size, Californians are responsible for a staggering 1.7 million binge drinks per year—about 10 percent of the whole country. The next closest is Texas, at nearly 1.4 million.

The survey looked at adults of age 18 and older, even though the drinking age is 21.

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