Blog
Jan
18
2012

Binge Drinking May Be A Bigger Problem Than We Think

Categories: Alcohol, Prevention, Research

New research shows us that the act of binge drinking is more prevalent than initially thought.

First, let’s define binge drinking for men and women. For men, binge drinking means drinking 5 or more alcoholic drinks within a short period of time. For women, binge drinking means 4 or more drinks within a short period of time.

Binge drinking can be extremely dangerous and increase one’s chances of getting hurt or hurting others through violence, car crashes and even suicide. 80,000 deaths are caused each year from drinking too much. In 2006, the cost of drinking too much –  including health care expenses, crime and lost productivity – was estimated at $746 per person in the US, or $223.5 billion.

But, it’s just the young, less affluent crowd that binge drink, right? Think again. While the age group with the most binge drinkers is the 18-34 year old crowd, the age group that binge drinks most often is 65+. Those who earn more than $75,000 per year make up the income group with the most binge drinkers. And while most people who binge drink are not considered alcoholics, the act of binge drinking can lead to alcohol dependence.

Geographically, New England, the Midwest, the District of Columbia, Alaska and Hawaii are the states with the most binge drinking. Maine is at the highest percentage, with an estimated 18.7% – 25.6% of adults who binge drink. Maine is also listed with the the highest “average largest number of drinks consumed by binge drinkers on an occasion” at 7.8 – 9.0 drinks.

So, what can we do about it? Some suggestions from the CDC include state and community efforts to prevent binge drinking, tracking and reporting how many people binge drink, developing community coalitions to help reduce binge drinking, screening patients for binge drinking and advising on how to reduce their alcohol use.

What are your thoughts? Is binge drinking a problem we’re not paying enough attention to? What can we do here in Maine to prevent the high prevalence of binge drinking?

Source: CDC Vitalsigns

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