Photo of jack o'lanterns

Binge drinking is one of the scariest elements of Halloween. From drunk driving to pedestrian fatalities, alcohol misuse has become a deadly tradition when celebrating Halloween.

Halloween and Binge Drinking

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), binge drinking is the most common and dangerous pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States. And on Halloween, many partygoers exceed even the minimum alcoholic drinks required to cross the binge drinking threshold. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that occurs after four drinks for women and five drinks for men — assuming the drinks are consumed within about two hours. Although most people who binge drink are not alcoholics, alcoholism is a progressive disease and binge drinking could lead to alcohol dependence over time.

Binge drinking carries serious health risks and can cause many health problems. The CDC reports that excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost each year in the United States from 2006 – 2010, shortening the lives of those who died by an average of 30 years. The same report showed excessive drinking was responsible for one in 10 deaths among working adults aged 20-64 years.

According to a study by the National Institutes of Health, data links binge drinking at age 18 to higher incidence of alcohol use disorder at age 35. The CDC has also found that most people involved in DUI investigations had been binge drinking.

Drunk Driving on Halloween

Drunk driving accounts for nearly one-third of vehicle-related fatalities in the United States and Halloween is one of the most prevalent nights for driving under the influence. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has determined fatal crashes involving a drunk driver occur three times more often on Halloween than on New Year’s Eve.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, between 2011 and 2015, 45 percent of all traffic fatalities and 23 percent of pedestrian fatalities on Halloween involved an alcohol-impaired driver. And with children and families roaming their neighborhoods at night for trick-or-treating, the dangers of impaired driving rise dramatically.

Importantly, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates more than 41 million children trick-or-treat each year. Another key finding by the NHTSA study discovered that children between the risk of vehicular death for children ages of four- and eight-years old increases tenfold while trick-or-treating on Halloween.

Sober Halloween Resources

For people in recovery from addiction and for those ready to celebrate the holiday safely and soberly, having a plan in place to manage potential triggers to consume alcohol or other substances can help you enjoy Halloween in a fun, healthy way. Checkout Five Sober Tips for Halloween and celebrate the spirit of October 31 unhindered by the mask of drugs and alcohol. Plan a safe and spooky night filled with sober tricks and treats that make Halloween such an entertaining holiday. 

Do you need information on other recovery subjects? If you have a related topic you would like covered, please submit your ideas to recovery@valleyhope.org.

If you feel like you need help immediately, the Valley Hope team is available 24/7 at (800) 544-5101. If you or a loved one are ready to seek help, take an online assessment and begin your journey to a healthy, happy life in recovery today. Get help. Find hope.