Peak binge drinking age shifting later into 20s

People are graduating from college, but not graduating from their college binge drinking habits, according to new research from the University of Minnesota. Researchers have been tracking the behaviors of young adults since the 1970s through the long-term Monitoring the Future study.

Binge drinking behaviors in young adults have typically remained consistent, with an increase from age 18 through the early 20s and then tailing off into the late 20s. But this recent study found binge drinking habits stretching to age 30.

Using data from 58,012 Monitoring the Future participants who were tracked from ages 18 to 30 beginning in 1976, researchers found the following:

The analysis, led by University of Minnesota Professor Megan Patrick, Ph.D., was recently published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Patrick cited particular concern with later binge drinking in women.

"Most alcohol-related interventions have focused on adolescents or college students," Patrick said in a statement. "Drinking during the later 20s has received less attention, and there are fewer prevention and intervention programs focused on these ages. However, we found that more women are now binge drinking and clinicians should think about screening for drinking problems throughout the 20s."

Looking at this data and the health and societal risks associated with binge drinking, researchers say more efforts are needed to prevent high-risk drinking are needed at least through age 30.

This study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.