The Causes of Binge Drinking and What to Do About It

Recent events have shown the use of alcohol in group settings and at times consequences of group thought versus individual decision making. Does the group allow the individual to drop his mask and act out true feelings? Or does the group suppress normal ethical social standards and because others are doing something, compel another to join in and be part of the fun?

Alcohol to many is regarded as a way to release stress and tensions of a busy existence and help generate quick ways to relax and be able to break down barriers of shyness and self-created boundaries allowing oneself to be the “real me.”

Numerous people recovering from alcohol abuse share the difficulty of being social accepted without a drink in their hands and feeling pressured to conform to others’ drinking behaviors either for the support of the one drinking or not being able to have “fun” without the loosening effects of alcohol.

The Foundation for a Drug Free Worlds defines binge drinking as: “the practice of consuming large quantities of alcohol in a single session, usually defined as five or more drinks at one time for a man or four or more drinks at one time for a woman.”

About 90% of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the United States is in the form of binge drinks.

Causes of College Binge Drinking

One prime example of binge and group drinking behaviors come from college campuses. Studies have shown that there are various factors that can drive a college student to take up binge drinking:

  • Peer pressure and the need for acceptance
  • As an ‘initiation rite’ into certain cliques and groups in college
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Celebrating an occasion or achievement
  • The need to feel more confident and uninhibited in a social gathering
  • The need to reinforce a ‘macho’ or assertive image
  • Curiosity
  • As a form of rebellion, particularly against parents and other authority figures in the student’s life
  • Other factors, such as genetics or a family background of alcohol abuse

Reasons for Binge Drinking

Students sometimes drink because they think alcohol makes it easier to meet other people, relaxes their social inhibitions and helps them have more fun. When asked whether they believe alcohol has the following effects, the percentages below indicate the rates of college students who answered “yes” (CORE, 2011).

Binge drinkers cited the following as important reasons for drinking:

  • Drinking to get drunk (cited by 47% of students who consumed alcohol)
  • Status associated with drinking
  • Culture of alcohol consumption on campus
  • Peer pressure and academic stress
  • Breaks the ice: 74.4%
  • Enhances social activity: 74.4%
  • Gives people something to do: 71.7%
  • Gives people something to talk about: 66.6%
  • Allows people to have more fun: 63.1%
  • Facilitates male bonding: 60.1%
  • Facilitates a connection with peers: 61.7%
  • Facilitates sexual opportunities: 53%
  • Facilitates female bonding: 28.8%
  • Makes women sexier: 28.8%
  • Makes food taste better: 22.7%
  • Makes me sexier: 20.4%
  • Makes men sexier: 19.9%
The Causes of Binge Drinking and What to Do About It

Steve Greenman, MA, LPC, NCC

Steve Greenman, MA, LPC, NCC is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) in northern Michigan who has a passion for reading, writing, music and helping others. He specializes in counseling complex family situations, substance abuse, and parenting. Steve’s counseling philosophy is holistic, approaching each issue on its own merit and evaluating influences to help overcome life’s dilemmas.


APA Reference
Greenman, S. (2015). The Causes of Binge Drinking and What to Do About It. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 30, 2020, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 11 Nov 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Nov 2015
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