Trend in women binge drinking carries deadly risks

(CBS News) LOS ANGELES -- Grace Bixby is a 21-year-old college student in Los Angeles. She moved out of her on-campus apartment four days ago because her roommates were binge drinking four times a week.

Grace Bixby
Grace Bixby
CBS News

"When I go out with my friends, everyone's gonna have more than four drinks," Grace says. "There were people in my bedroom throwing up all night, keeping the lights on, going in and out, yelling, screaming."

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says nearly 14 million women and girls binge drink about three times a month. The report says most female binge drinkers are 18 to 34 years old. On average, they have six drinks in one sitting about three times a month.

"I don't look at it as drinking more and more alcohol and getting myself more drunk," Grace says. "It's just like I want to take shots with my friends. It's social interaction."

Binge drinking has been largely considered a problem for men, but "Faded," a new documentary about women and binge drinking, has exposed why some women binge: Peer pressure, stress relief, and escapism.

CDC: 1 in 8 U.S. women binge drink 3 times a month

The CDC says excess drinking increases a woman's risk of breast cancer, heart disease and STDs. Twenty-three thousand women and girls in the United States die each year from problems associated with binge drinking.

Lina Lecaro, author of "Los Angeles's Best Dive Bars," has covered nightlife for LA Weekly and Hollywood Style Scene for 20 years. She says sweeter drinks and club culture are fueling the female binge.

"I've seen girls being carried out of bathrooms, passed out," she says. "You know, that's concerning, but usually it's a younger club-goer that's doing that."

Asked how women compare to men in terms of excess drinking, Lecaro says, "I think girls can keep up with the guys in that regard, whether it be beer, shots, cocktails."

"The bottle service trend -- which, basically, you buy a table and you buy an entire bottle -- and, you know, to get your money's worth, you're going to finish that bottle," she adds.

But finishing that bottle may not be worth the cost.