January 12, 2012

Alcohol's Happy Hour

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Joseph V. Madia, MD By:

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Binge drinking occurs more often than previously believed

(dailyRx News) More than half of the alcohol consumed in the United States occurs during a process known as binge drinking, defined as four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks in men, suggests reports.

According to a recent study available through the Center of Disease Control (CDC), “One in six U.S. adults binge drinks about four times a month, and on average the largest number of drinks consumed is eight.”

"Drink alcohol responsibly; it saves lives."

Corresponding author on the study, Dafna Kanny, Ph.D., of the CDC in Atlanta, Georgia, and several colleagues organized the study, collecting information via telephone. The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) randomly dialed households within 48 U.S. states and the District of Columbia; South Dakota and Tennessee excluded.

While they normally administer calls to exclusively static lines, this year’s survey incorporated the use of cellular phones as well, reaching a total of 457,677 respondents, 35,638 reached on mobile numbers.

Binge drinking amongst adults is most common throughout the Midwest, New England, the District of Columbia, Alaska, and Hawaii, respectively, while least common in Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina.

Households earning the upwards of $75,000 or more every year binge drink most frequently; however more drinks are consumed per event in homes with incomes under $25,000.

The CDC reports, “While binge drinking is more common among young adults aged 18–34 years, binge drinkers aged 65 years and older report binge drinking more often—an average of five to six times a month.”

The study’s statistics estimate thirty-eight million Americans overindulge in their alcohol consumption, with almost 1.5 billion episodes of binge drinking each year.

Although most binge drinkers are not alcohol-dependent, they are fourteen times more likely to drive drunk, and they instigate approximately eighty-eight percent of drunken driving events.

Estimated costs associated with excessive drinking include both financial and societal deficits. Each drink costs $1.90 in productivity, healthcare, crime and other losses, totaling $223.5 billion dollars in 2006.

Moreover, 80,000 deaths associated with unhealthy alcohol intake each year could be prevented if everyone practiced responsible drinking.

The frequent over-consumption of alcohol contributes to illness, injury, and death. Binge drinking causes interpersonal violence, car crashes, unprotected sex, venereal disease, and unplanned pregnancy.

Statistically speaking, every forty-eight minutes someone dies in the U.S. due to an alcohol-related motor vehicle crash.

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Reviewed by: 
Joseph V. Madia, MD
Review Date: 
January 12, 2012

Last Updated:
January 12, 2012