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Teen and Adult Binge Drinking Huge Problem in the U.S.

Although data indicates that binge drinking has been a serious issue in the United States for decades, the problem has been getting headlines in recent years due to the alarming number of high school and college aged students who have been killed or seriously injured as a result of the behavior. Colleges, and especially sororities and fraternities, take the brunt of the blame for binge drinking as these institutions often offer newly independent young people opportunities for unlimited drinking with little consequence or law enforcement intervention. However, students are not the only people who binge drink. It has been revealed that adults between the ages of 22 and 35 also engage in this dangerous type of drinking.

A new report by the Vital Signs division of the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows that 25% of high school students and adults between the ages of 18 and 35 have had an episode of binge drinking in the last 30 days. The CDC defines “binge drinking” as having consumed five or more alcoholic beverages (four or more for women) in a three hour period. Given the rapid increase in blood alcohol content over such a short period of time, binge drinking leads to a high level of intoxication.

It is estimated that over 30 million adults binge drink and those numbers are on the rise. Over 40,000 people die each year in the United States as the result of binge drinking, which represents fully half of the total number of alcohol-related deaths. Alcohol is the number three cause of death and injury nationwide.

The CDC study analyzed results from a self-reported questionnaire about binge drinking that had been given to almost half a million adults (18 or older) and 15,000 students (14 – 18). The responses showed that, of the population that actually drank alcohol, one-third of adults and two-thirds of students admitted to binge drinking.

Binge drinking is a particularly dangerous form of alcohol abuse and contributes to several public health issues such as automobile fatalities, the spread of sexually transmitted disease (STD), date rape, and drug overdose. Although some binge drinkers may not, necessarily, be alcoholics, they definitely have significant alcohol abuse issues.

The immediate effects of gross intoxication are not the only concerns with regard to binge drinking. Research suggests that binge drinking may have dire consequences for the development of adolescent brains. A study of thirty teens revealed that loss of white matter in the brain has some connection to binge drinking. Further, a different study showed that, among 15,000 members of the US military, the roughly half that reported to be binge drinkers were more likely to have problems with job performance, law enforcement, and drinking and driving.

Not surprisingly, men were shown to be twice as likely as women to binge drink, at 20% and 10%, respectively. White people reported binge drinking at the rate of 15%, while black people reported only a 10% rate.

Results of the study also indicate that binge drinking rates vary widely across state lines. For instance, adults in Tennessee have a 7% binge drinking rate, while almost 25% of adults in Wisconsin binge drink.

World leaders are concerned about the binge drinking epidemic and propose new alcohol taxes and marketing regulations in order to help curb the dangerous and, sometimes, deadly behavior.

Posted on October 6th, 2010
Posted in Binge Drinking

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