A new report from the CDC shines the spot light on binge drinking and estimates that more than 38 million adults in the US or more than 10% of the population regularly binge drink, four times a month, which basically amounts to every weekend, or twice on a weekend to make up for a sober one.
The highest number averaged at 8 times per month, which would involve going on a bender all weekend, every weekend. The CDC is high lighting these figures because heavy drinking not only carries health risks to the bodies physiology, but puts a person at higher risk of accidents, car crash, violence and suicide.
Additionally the CDC's figures show even in states with lower levels of binge drinking, those that do drink, do so more often and in larger amounts. The report then moves on to look at the social factors involved including the cost to a person, which is estimated at $746 per year, or $1.90 per drink. This of course does not include additional money a person may spend on causal drinking.
Another report issued just before the New Year, pinpointed elevated risk for transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, when people have been drinking heavily, because they are more inclined to take risks or be spontaneous or even plan to have unprotected sex for the thrill factor once they are drunk. Unplanned pregnancy, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) are also associated with binge drinking.
Other issues for binge drinkers include increased risk in the long term of becoming ill or dying from alcohol related causes, 54 different types of injuries and diseases, including violence and STDs. In short the report sees the cost to federal, state and local government from binge drinking, at around 62¢ per drink in 2006, with alcohol taxes only running at about 12¢ per drink.
The report breaks down the demographic of people who are more inclined to binge drink. Those aged 18-34 rank the highest, and surprisingly higher income earners with an annual wage of over $75,000 contain the most binge drinkers, while those on a lower income below $25,000 drink more often and more drinks per binge session.
Although alcoholism and dependence are cited as a risk for binge drinkers, the CDC state that most binge drinkers are not in the category of alcoholics, who tend to be more consistent drinkers throughout the week, needing their favorite tipple first thing in the morning just to function, and causing themselves major health problems.
Incredibly more than half the alcohol adults consume and more than 90% of the alcohol youth consume is in the binge drinking category.
The CDC then sets out a variety of initiatives that can be under taken on local, state and federal levels to help curb this bad habit. With the economy looking less than stellar, blotting out the problems might help temporarily but it's clearly costing the economy, government and consumers quite heavily.
US Government can :
- Collaborate with states and communities to support effective community strategies to prevent binge drinking strategies such as those recommended by the Community Guide.*
- Assist states and communities in tracking how many people binge drink, how often, and how much they drink when they binge.
- Help states and communities track and understand the laws and regulations that control the marketing and sale of alcohol.
- Work with states and communities to determine whether prevention strategies are working.
- Implement effective community strategies to prevent binge drinking such as those recommended by the Community Guide.*
- Routinely track and report how many people binge drink, how often, and how much they drink when they binge.
- Develop community coalitions that build partnerships among schools, community- and faith-based organizations, law enforcement, health care, and public health agencies to reduce binge drinking.
- Recognize that drinking too much causes 80,000 deaths in the US each year and contributes to over 54 different injuries and diseases.
- Recognize that most binge drinkers are not alcohol dependent or alcoholics.
- Support effective community strategies to prevent binge drinking such as those recommended by the Community Guide.*
- Screen patients for binge drinking and advise those who do to reduce their use. More information can be found at http://www. uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/ uspsdrin.htm.
- Choose not to binge drink themselves and help others not to do it.
- Drink in moderation if they do drink. The US Dietary Guidelines on alcohol consumption recommend no more than 1 drink per day for women and no more than 2 drinks per day for men. Pregnant women and underage youth should not drink alcohol.
- Support effective community strategies to prevent binge drinking, such as those recommended by the Community Guide.*
- Support local control of the marketing and sale of alcohol.
- Support the minimum legal drinking age of 21.