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Binge Drinking in America

Posted in Alcohol Abuse

Heavy drinking is usually associated with young adults, especially with college-age kids, out from under parents’ rules for the first time and enjoying their newfound freedom. It is assumed that it is something they will outgrow, once they’ve had their taste of it, and settle into more responsible behavior.

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells a different story. Many teens are not waiting until they reach college to drink heavily, and a lot of people don’t stop once college is over. The report highlights the widespread problem of binge drinking and includes caution about the consequences that often follow.

The report indicates that over 33 million Americans binge drink. Binge drinking is defined as consuming at least five alcoholic drinks in one session (usually understood to be a period of two or three hours) of drinking for males, or four drinks for females.

The CDC reports that at least 25 percent of all high school students and individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 indicate that they have participated in binge drinking. 21 percent of males and 10 percent of females are likely to binge drink. There are differences between races, too, with 16 percent of non-Hispanic Caucasians likely to binge drink, compared to only 10 percent of non-Hispanic African-Americans.

Thomas R. Frieden, M.D. M.P.H., who is the director of the CDC, teamed up with Dr. Robert Brewer, M.D., M.P.H., who is the alcohol program leader of the CDC to investigate binge drinking across the United States.

Frieden reports the significance of the findings when considering the health risks involved with binge drinking, including fatal car accidents, sexually transmitted diseases, and dating violence. He notes that binge drinking is still the third leading preventable cause of death, and is also connected with a number of physical and social health issues.

The researchers obtained data by investigating self-report information about binge drinking during the past 30 days by over 400,000 Americans aged 18 and older. In addition, data was gathered from the 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and the 2009 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey that surveyed approximately 16,000 high school students.
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The authors of the study report that 79,000 deaths are caused every year by binge drinking. In addition to health risks associated with consuming excessive levels of alcohol, binge drinking is attached to many dangerous behaviors such as driving while intoxicated and irresponsible sexual choices.