The High Cost of Binge Drinking in Baltimore County


The Problem

Young people across the nation report alcohol is easy to get from bars and liquor stores, and the same is true in Maryland. In 2018, over 80% of Baltimore County youth ages 18-20 reported drinking in the past month. Reducing young people’s ease of access to alcohol, in both social and commercial settings, is a critical step to addressing excessive drinking among college students.

The Solution

All people selling or serving alcohol should be trained in how to serve alcohol responsibly. Many establishments only train one person who is not even required to be on the premises. Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) training is the next step in reducing harm caused by excessive alcohol consumption in our community. Currently, establishments in Baltimore County that serve or sell alcohol are required to have at least one employee that is trained by a certified responsible server training program.

Too many young people are drinking at dangerous levels.

High-risk drinking often leads to

  • Sexual assaults

  • Drinking & driving

  • Violence

  • Forgot what you did when you were drinking

  • Alcohol poisoning

  • Property damage

1 in 2 young adults binge drink every month.

30% of Baltimore County young adults have blacked out from excessive alcohol use in the past year.

          MYSA 2018

Alcohol use isn’t a problem, say young adults, unless one engages in binge drinking—which is “supported” by bar owners through activities such as “beat the clock”  deals at bars. Baltimore Co. bars are “easy to get into” and “do not have fake ID training.”

Focus Group Participants, 2017

Underage and Binge Drinking is a PROBLEM in Baltimore County

Excessive alcohol use among underage and college students is a serious public health issue. In 2017, nationwide there were 7.4 million people aged 12 to 20 who drank alcohol in the past month, including 4.5 million who were binge drinkers1. One in two Baltimore County young adults stated they had their first drink by the age of 16 or younger2. The younger a person is when they start drinking, the greater their risk for excessive drinking in college, and issues with alcohol use later in life. Forty-three percent of respondents said they had seen restaurant or bar staff providing alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person in the past 60 days2.

What is Responsible Beverage Service Training?

Waiters and bartenders can be better prepared to prevent patrons from drinking to excess. Through in-person training and role-playing that teaches them how to spot signs of intoxication so they don’t serve alcohol to inebriated customers, how to validate IDs whether or not an ID scanning device is used, and how to tell patrons that they will be cut off from more alcohol service.

How You Can Help

Spread the Word

Ask a member of the Towson Communities Alliance to attend your community meeting to speak about the problems caused by underage and excessive drinking and how alcohol-server training coupled with consistent and adequate law enforcement funding will help protect young people and our neighborhoods.

To get involved, write to us at

More ways to help and data sources available at

Download a copy of this RBS Issue Brief and share it with elected officials and members of your community.

Help Educate Policymakers

Changing alcohol laws pertaining to the sales, service, promotion, and availability of alcohol in Baltimore County often involves working through the County Council and the Maryland General Assembly. Get involved and help educate lawmakers so they make the best choices for the health and safety of Baltimore County youth.

Write to elected officials to support legislation mandating RBS training and requiring that retailers act more responsibly by refusing entrance to people who are already intoxicated, ending drink specials that encourage young people to drink to excess, and establishing house policies that discourage binge drinking.


  1. Youth Risk Behavior Survey 2018
  2. Maryland Young Adult Survey on Alcohol 2018, Behavioral Health Resources and Technical Assistance Program, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy

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