Binge drinking is the modern definition of drinking alcoholic beverages with the primary intention of becoming intoxicated by heavy consumption of alcohol over a short period of time. It is a kind of purposeful drinking style that is popular in several countries worldwide, and overlaps somewhat with social drinking since it is often done in groups. However, it is also done alone as a method of self medication. The exact degree of intoxication, however, varies between and within various cultures that engage in this practice. Formerly, most countries defined the term as a multi-day heavy drinking session during which the drinker neglects usual responsibilities and otherwise behaves recklessly. In Russia, many people often still define it this way.
There is currently no international consensus on how many drinks constitute a "binge," but the term is often taken to mean consuming 5 or more standard drinks (male), or 4 or more drinks (female), in about two hours for a typical adult. This is called the "5/4 definition." However, these numbers vary significantly based on weight and numerous other variables. Other, less common definitions are based on blood alcohol concentration. For example, the NIAAA recently redefined the term "binge drinking" as anytime one reaches a peak BAC of 0.08% or higher as opposed to some (arguably) arbitrary number of drinks in an evening. One study showed that university students often have numerous different definitions of "binge drinking" depending on their drinking habits, with drinkers having significantly higher definitions than nondrinkers. Whatever the numerical definition used, rapid consumption (shots, chugging, or drinking games) is often implied when the term is used colloquially, since one can remain relatively sober if the 4 or 5 drinks are spread out widely over the course of a long evening.
The British Medical Association notes that "in common usage, binge drinking is now usually used to refer to heavy drinking over an evening or similar time span - sometimes also referred to as heavy episodic drinking. Binge drinking is often associated with drinking with the intention of becoming intoxicated and, sometimes, with drinking in large groups." It is sometimes associated with physical or social harm.
In the United States, sometimes the term "extreme drinking" or "industrial-strength bingeing" is used to describe a more severe form of (single-evening) binge drinking; it is often defined as ten or more standard American drinks on a single occasion (sometimes as eight drinks for women). If done over 2 to 3 hours, a typical adult would have a peak BAC of at least 0.20%.