Binge Alcohol Use Varies within and across States
Sep 02, 2014 | The National Survey on Drug Use and Health
In Brief Data collected from 94,200 persons aged 12 to 20 over the period 2010 through 2012 show that underage binge alcohol use rates vary extensively among regions within each state and throughout the nation.
Past month underage binge alcohol use (i.e., consuming five or more drinks at the same time or within a couple of hours of each other on at least 1 day in the past 30 days) ranged from 9.2 percent in Shelby County, Tennessee, to 46.3 percent in the District of Columbia’s Ward 2 (located in the west-central section of the city). Of the 16 substate regions with the highest rates of underage binge alcohol use, 5 were in the Northeast, 5 were in the South, 5 were in the Midwest, and 1 was in the West.
Alcohol use constitutes one of the most serious public health issues for young people in the United States, creating negative health, social, and economic consequences for adolescents, their families, and communities, and for the nation as a whole. All 50 states and the District of Columbia currently prohibit possession of alcoholic beverages by persons younger than 21.
Nationally, 15.9 percent of all persons aged 12 to 20 were binge alcohol users in the 30 days prior to being surveyed. For many youths, excessive drinking results in premature mortality, with traffic crashes accounting for 36 percent of the alcohol-attributable deaths for those younger than 21.
Binge Drinking is more widespread on school campuses than most people imagine – here are some facts
Today, many teens and young adults drink to relax and relieve some of the pressures of their fast-paced and highly-scheduled lives. For young people that know the difference between alcohol use and abuse (and are of legal drinking age) enjoying a few drinks can be a healthy, legal and safe way to unwind. Unfortunately, the popular habit known as binge drinking remains a major problem at thousands of college campuses and high schools in the U.S; but it’s also a problem plaguing adults. Take a look at how binge drinking carries on into adulthood.
Binge drinking, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), is having five or more drinks in two hours for men and four or more drinks in 2 hours for women. For the purposes of this definition, one drink is defined as:
- 1.25 oz. Liquor or Mix
- 12 oz. Beer
- 7 oz. Malt
- 4-5 oz. Wine
- 10 oz. Wine Cooler
Binge drinking is more widespread on school campuses than most people imagine, which is probably because it doesn’t exclusively affect students normally associated with a risk for alcohol problems. Most binge drinkers are what many would consider to be normal teens and young adults; they may be successful, smart, and otherwise happy.
If a habit of alcohol abuse develops early in life, a cycle of alcoholic depression and dependence can be extremely difficult to break. According to this teenage drinking study conducted by Harvard Medical School and HelpGuide.org, young people who drink regularly before the age of 21 are more likely to:
- Be the victims of violent crime
- Be involved in alcohol-related car accidents
- Suffer from depression and anxiety
- Attempt suicide
- Engage in violent behaviors
- Have unprotected sex or have multiple partners
- Develop alcohol problems in later life
At its worst, alcoholism can lead to severe injury or death. In fact, alcohol abuse contributes to 88,000 deaths every year in the United States, more than two times the number of deaths attributed to illicit and pharmaceutical drug abuse annually.
Drinking is one activity that doesn’t come with a rule book. Young adults have difficulty gauging how much to drink, and how often, which can lead to “overdoing it.” According to the following graphic, college freshman are at an increased risk for binge drinking.
Alcohol Consumption Among College Freshman
How Binge Drinking Affects Your Health
“I’m staying in my dorm and not getting in a car. The worst that can happen is I get sick, right?”
While this is a common rationalization for heavy drinking students, taken straight from the mouth of a young adult under the influence, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Binge drinking is more dangerous than many students can possibly imagine. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol poisoning “occurs when there is so much alcohol in the bloodstream that areas of the brain controlling basic life-support functions—such as breathing, heart rate, and temperature control—begin to shut down.”
Knowing and understanding the signs of alcohol poisoning can save lives. Signs of alcohol poisoning include:
- Mental confusion or stupor – The person can’t speak or doesn’t make sense.
- Passed out and can’t be roused – The person may already be in a coma.
- Vomiting – Throwing up is not a normal result of drinking.
- Seizures – The body shakes or convulses.
- Slow breathing – Less than eight breaths per minute.
- Irregular breathing – Taking 10 seconds or more between breaths.
- Hypothermia – The person is cool to the touch, is pale or has bluish skin color.
Blood alcohol levels can continue to rise even when a person stops drinking or is passed out, so don’t wait for all of the signs to show up before seeking medical help.
- Alcohol lowers inhibitions and clouds judgment; whether or not you sit behind the wheel of a car, there’s a chance you will do something that will result in your being arrested and charged with a crime. Binge drinking crimes range from public intoxication and underage drinking to theft and rape.
Probing Question: How Serious is the Binge Drinking Problem on College Campuses?
The wild college house party filled with students doing keg stands, playing drinking games and passing out drunk is a familiar scene in pop culture. But is this stereotypical scene of college life the exception or the rule? Is binge drinking really a problem on college campuses? It’s complex, says Jeff Hayes, Penn State professor of education and psychology and a licensed psychologist.
According to the data that Hayes and his colleagues from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health have collected from more than 100 college campuses, 56 percent of students don’t engage in regular binge drinking, defined as five or more drinks in a row for men, or four or more drinks in a row for women.
“I think it is important to communicate to students that they are not alone, they are not even in the minority, if they choose not to binge drink,” says Hayes. “On a large university campus, there are plenty of students who are not drinking — not just not binge drinking, — but not drinking at all.”
Hayes believes that the key to helping students resist the college drinking culture is having attractive alternative activities and programs such as Penn State’s “HUB Late Night” at the University Park campus and expanded recreational athletic activities. However, notes Hayes, the flipside of that 56 percent statistic is that 44 percent of students are binge drinking. And while that is less than half, it is still a sizable minority. For those students, there are often problems.
“Students who are binge drinking with great frequency tend to be far more suicidal than their peers who are binge drinking less frequently or not at all,” says Hayes. “They also tend to have greater mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety, and they often struggle academically.” In addition, Hayes’ research reveals that as many as 33 percent of students report being unable to remember what happened the night before, being unable to do what is expected of them or feeling guilt or remorse after a night of drinking.
The troubling statistics don’t end there. A recent article by Hayes and his colleagues in the Journal of College Counseling concluded that nearly 1,900 college students nationwide die from alcohol-related injuries each year. Approximately 600,000 students are injured under the influence of alcohol annually, Hayes points out, and an additional 700,000 students are assaulted by another student who has been drinking. In fact, approximately 100,000 students are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape every year.
Many students participate in binge drinking, Hayes suggests, because it may be a reaction to what is, for many students, the first taste of freedom that they’ve experienced in life. “I think that there is part of a normative developmental experience of going away to college and experimenting,” says Hayes. “They are pushing the boundaries for themselves.”
In addition, many students do not see their drinking as a problem. “I see a number of students in my private practice,” explains Hayes. “A lot of them are not seeking help for drinking problems. They are seeking help for depression or relationship problems. The alcohol problems are present, but they don’t think they have a problem because they don’t drink any more than their friends do.”
Jeffrey Hayes is professor of counseling psychology in the College of Education and can be reached
Sept. 2013 — ANN ARBOR—A University of Michigan study published online in JAMA Pediatrics finds that 10 percent of high school seniors have engaged in extreme binge drinking, drinking 10 or more alcoholic drinks in a single sitting.
The study is based on data from a nationally representative sample of more than 16,000 high school seniors, surveyed between 2005 and 2011 as part of the annual Monitoring the Future Study conducted by the U-M Institute for Social Research.
“More than one in 10 high school seniors had 10 or more drinks in a row and more than one in 20 had 15 or more drinks in a row at least once in the last two weeks,” said U-M developmental psychologist Megan Patrick, lead author of the study.
The study is important because it provides insight into seemingly conflicting trends: that reported levels of binge drinking—traditionally defined as having five or more drinks in a row—have been declining among adolescents, although medical emergencies involving teen alcohol use have not.
The survey asked: “During the last two weeks, how many times (if any) have you had five (10, 15) or more drinks in a row?” A drink was defined as any a 12-ounce can or bottle of beer; a 4-ounce glass of wine; a 12-ounce bottle or can of wine cooler; or a mixed drink, shot glass of liquor or the equivalent.
Patrick and colleagues found considerable variation in the rates of binge drinking among different groups. Young men, students from more rural areas and individuals of white race/ethnicity had particularly high rates of extreme binge drinking. Teens from the Midwest were more likely than those in other geographic regions to report extreme binge drinking.
“Alcohol use among adolescents is an enduring public health problem, and our findings regarding the rates of extreme binge drinking are particularly alarming,” Patrick said. “We hope that this study is helpful in drawing attention to the extent of extreme binge drinking among our nation’s high school seniors.”
The research was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R01DA001411.
One in Four High School Students and Young Adults Report Binge Drinking says CDC report
Sixty percent of high school students who drink, binge drink. When high school students are combined with adults between the ages of 18 and 34, more than one in four engaged in binge drinking during the past month, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Binge drinking is defined as having four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men over a short period of time, usually a couple of hours. The report states that levels of binge drinking have not declined during the past 15 years.
CDC scientists analyzed data on self-reports of binge drinking within the past 30 days for about 412,000 U.S. adults aged 18 years and older from the 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and for approximately 16,000 U.S. high school students from the 2009 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
You are your brother’s keeper – look out and don’t be afraid to call for help.
Out-of-control drinking is on the rise. more than 90% of the alcohol consumed by youths under the age of 21 is chugged in the form of binge drinking. and a whopping 42% of full-time college students are binge drinkers. experts say the carefree culture of spring break can be a breeding ground for binging. liquoring up and passing out is sometimes part of the plan. it wasn’t for molly.
…. a daughter’s death, a mother’s heartbreak. and hope that molly’s story just might save a life. and with binge drinking on the rise, spring break can be a toxic environment. alcohol is easy to get. and among young people, it often becomes a game, who can drink the most.
Quick Facts on Binge Drinking …
Over 50% of alcohol consumed in the U.S. is through binge drinking — Those who start binge drinking before the age of 14 are 4 times more likely to become alcoholics later in life. From Cleanandsoberlive.com …
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking is defined as “a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s BAC (blood alcohol concentration) to 0.08 grams percent or above.” This is approximately 5+ drinks in less than 2 hours for men, or 4+ drinks for women.
1 out of every 6 American adults binge drinks 4 times every month, drinking approximately 8 drinks each binge.
Binge drinking is actually more common amongst households with an income greater than $75,000.
College students are typically associated with wild binge drinking, but 70% of all binge drinking is performed by adults 26+ years old.
While those 26 and older may do the majority of the binge drinking, underage drinkers are much more likely to binge when drinking – 90% of the alcohol consumed in the United States by underage drinkers (under 21) is in the form of binge drinks.
Men are twice as likely to binge drink as women.
Those who binge drink are 14 times more likely to drink and drive than those who don’t binge drink.
Over 50% of all alcohol consumed in the United States by adults is in the form of binge drinking.
Binge drinking greatly increases your changes of both short term and long term health issues – some fatal. This may include:
Injuries due to accidents (falling down, drowning, car crashes)
Asphyxiation from vomit (death on vomit while passed out)
Fetal alcohol syndrome in children
According to a study published in 2006 that looked at the economic costs of binge drinking in the United States, binge drinking causes $223.5 billion dollars in damage to the American economy each year, including 72.2% from lost productivity, 11% from added healthcare costs, and 9.4% from police and criminal justice costs.
The human toll aside, the financial cost of crimes related to excessive alcohol consumption each year is a staggering $73.3 billion.
Binge drinking is responsible for around 79,000 premature deaths in the United States each year. Some common causes of death include acute alcohol poisoning, cirrhosis of the liver, drunk driving collisions, fatal violence, and suicide.
The binge drinking statistics indicate that it puts you at a higher risk for over 54 injuries and diseases.
Frequent binge drinking can have an effect on your ability to learn and concentrate, well after your hangover has disappeared. Some of this damage may be irreversible.
Those who start binge drinking before the age of 14 are 4 times more likely to become alcoholics later in life.
At the end of the day though, each individual is responsible for their own well-being and behavior. Here are some tips for avoiding excessive binge drinking (again, this doesn’t apply to anyone with a drinking problem):
- Set limits in advance – don’t let others pressure you into going ove rthem.
- Start off with a non-alcoholic drink.
- Eat a full meal before you go out.
- Drink slowly – take sips rather than big gulps or “chugging”.
- Avoid rounds of shots – shots of hard liquor can put you over the top really quickly, and drinking in “rounds” ensures that you won’t be able to comfortably control your alcohol intake.
- Keep busy – don’t just sit/stand around drink, make sure the evening revolves around something else as well.
Students Stop Breathing, One Dies after Binge Drinking
February 12, 2013 — MyNorthwest.Com
Four Washington State University students stopped breathing while binge drinking during the first four months of this school year. One of those students died.
The state legislature wants to give underage drinkers an opportunity to help their friends before they end up in the hospital or dead. State Rep. Marko Liias believes a fear of getting in trouble for some of these underage drinkers is keeping them from getting help for their buddies when they’ve had too much, or in some cases way too much to drink.
“Young people are making bad choices sometimes,” said Liias. “We want to make sure that when they make one bad choice; they don’t compound it by making a really life-ending choice by not calling 911 because they’re afraid of getting in trouble with the law.”
Liias wants to get rid of that fear of getting in trouble. He’s sponsoring a bill that gives limited immunity to underage drinkers who seek help for a friend in need. “If you are caught for MIP (minor in possession) because you called 911, you can’t be charged with MIP,” he said. And neither can the person needing help.
Binge drinking and your brain: Raising risk of dependence news, says Yale School of Medicine study
The brains of chronically heavy drinkers have twice the capacity of those of light drinkers to consume a chemical that may add to impairment and some other effects of alcohol, Yale School of Medicine researchers have found. This added capacity may also increase the vulnerability to alcohol dependence, according to the study, which appears in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
Researchers studied 14 drinkers. Half of them were what would be considered heavy drinkers, many of them ”binge drinkers.” They regularly consumed at least eight drinks a week, and at least four drinks on one of those days. The rest were light drinkers, who consumed less than two drinks per week.
All 14 subjects were given the chemical acetic acid (also called acetate). Normally the body has very little acetate, but when we drink, the liver converts the alcohol to acetate. The chemical is released into the blood and reaches the brain, which uses it for fuel. The researchers found that the brains of the heavy drinkers were twice as able as those of the light drinkers to consume the acetate, creating a situation where heavy drinkers may adapt to the use of the acetate and have a harder time reducing drinking or quitting.
Normally, the brain relies on blood sugar for fuel, but it can also use other things like acetate. Binge drinking on an empty stomach can drop a person’s blood sugar acutely, and the acetic acid can fill in for the missing fuel, which creates more incentive to keep drinking.
Habitual heavy drinkers have an even greater ability to get that extra energy. The acetate effects of binge drinking on the brain may promote dependence, because if people stop drinking, they lose not only the alcohol, but also the acetate. If the brain has adapted to having that chemical around, the drinker may suffer withdrawal symptoms, explain the researchers.
Senior author Graeme Mason, professor of diagnostic radiology and psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, says that this sets up a dangerous situation. ”Acetate as fuel for the brain may sound like a good thing, but heavy drinkers’ brains may adapt to that supply of energy and so have a harder time reducing or quitting drinking. This is consistent with previous research that has shown that the acetate from alcohol can even displace some sugar consumption by the brain.”
”Another potential adaptation also provides a danger for dependence,” Mason added. ”When the brain uses acetate for fuel, it creates another chemical called adenosine, which causes drowsiness. Adaptation to that extra adenosine may also make it more difficult to stop drinking.”
Mason says that this new understanding of the cycle of tolerance and withdrawal may provide valuable insight not just into addiction, but into possible therapeutic interventions that can facilitate detoxification. ”There may be ways to support early sobriety with acetate or drugs that mimic some effects of acetate, and we need to investigate that with respect to effectiveness, safety, cost, and practicality,” said the Yale scientist. ”For the foreseeable future, nothing is going to make it easy to stop drinking. My hope is that we can add to the current measures to make it safer and less uncomfortable to get sober.”
Binge drinking hits UT students; UT police detected ‘wafting odor of vomit’; liquor intake equals calories
KXAN-TV; 27 Aug 2010
AUSTIN (KXAN) – Walking to her west campus apartment after class, University of Texas student Joanie Guiling said it is tough not to think of a late-night trip that same way after the past weekend. A young woman had passed out drunk, lying in a pool of her own vomit, on Guiling’s doorstep.
Police say two students were each found in their bathrooms – one foaming at the mouth, one suffering from alcohol poisoning. Both were binge drinking in the process of joining a sorority, and both were young women. View the UT Campus Watch report here .
Using data from National Survey on Drug Use and Health , a recent study by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis said, in nearly the past three decades, only one group has gone up in the number of binge drinkers – by 30%, at that. Now, 39% of college women binge drink.
“I have friends that are girls and will take like nine shots and are still looking at you,” said Alma Debosque. UT tries to educate with an online course called AlcoholEdu , warning of the dangers in drinking too much. The Alcohol and Drug Awareness program has been required for all incoming freshmen since 2009. A recent UT Student Health Center survey showed 98% of students said their peers drink alcohol.
Still, one of the most effective ways the UT School of Public Health has found to curb binge drinking, as part of personalized feedback, is to translate your liquor intake to calories. For instance, four beers equal one Big Mac, 20 beers equal 5 Big Macs.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism , high-risk drinking by college students was responsible for more than 3 million driving incidents, almost 600,000 injuries, and 1,825 deaths last year.
UT freshman Jack Phoummarath died of acute alcohol poisoning after a night of binge drinking and hazing activities while attending a party at the Lambda Phi Epsilon fraternity in 2005. His family received $4.2 million in a legal settlement.
In 2006, another UT fraternity pledge fell to his death from the balcony of an off-campus dormitory. Four former leaders of Sigma Epsilon pleaded “no contest” to hazing in 2008. Two served four days in jail for their roles as pledge trainers. All four received deferred adjudication and had to attend alcohol awareness training.
Editorial from Canada: Higher sin taxes won’t solve the binge drinking problem
You don’t need to be a renowned economist to realize that the price of a good is going to affect the demand for it. In order to discourage smoking, we’ve made cigarettes more expensive. Proponents of a “fat tax” wish to encourage the consumption of healthy foods. Carbon taxes aim to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels. And so on.
Presumably, then, the same would hold true for alcohol. But do we really need such a blunt tool? Does all alcohol consumption need to be discouraged? Dr. James Talbot has prepared a report on the growing problem of binge drinking among young Albertans.
One of those recommendations is to promote moderate drinking and support a liquor mark-up review.” The “mark-up” is essentially the tax the Alberta government applies to alcohol sales, though the rates vary from product to product.
All these steps were taken to discourage binge drinking. But while citing their implementation, Dr. Talbot neglects to mention that there is as yet no evidence that these measures are accomplishing the desired goal. It’s therefore hard to use these examples as a reason to pursue more of the same.
The fact that binge drinking is occurring is not in doubt. Dr. Talbot’s report cites figures showing that “binge drinking among 12-19 year olds increased from 13% in 2002 to 19% in 2008.” Furthermore, Canada’s binge drinking rates don’t look much different than those in the U.S.
Dr. Talbot also cites some additional research bolstering the assertion that increased prices will indeed lead to less consumption, although it’s less evident whether such a strategy can work in a targeted way to address the very specific problem outlined in his report. They found that “teens are least responsive to price” and that “the best approach to reducing teen alcohol consumption should involve alternatives to taxation, such as education campaigns.”
The Geography of American Binge Drinking
Lots of Americans binge drink, according to data released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Binge drinking, according to the CDC, amounts to consuming five or more drinks for men and four or more for women within a short period of time. The report includes interesting data on state-by-state patterns outlined in the map below:
Binge drinking varies from one in ten adults (10.9 percent) at the low end of the spectrum to more than one in four (25.6 percent) at the high end. There is something of a binge drinking belt across the north of the country, running westward from New England, Pennsylvania and Ohio to Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and Montana. Alaska ranks high too, suggesting that long, cold winters might play a role, though tropical Hawaii is in the top tier as well.
Dartmouth president leading campaign against binge drinking
By Ralph K.M. Haurwitz
Monday, Jan. 16, 2012
More than 1,800 college students die each year from alcohol-related causes, and about 600,000 others are injured while under the influence. Excessive drinking also leads to unsafe sex, sexual abuse and academic problems. Nearly 40 percent of college students engage in binge drinking.
To Jim Yong Kim , president of Dartmouth College, those statistics amount to an epidemic, and he has lined up 31 other colleges and universities — including one in Texas, Southern Methodist University — to attack it in a methodical, data-driven fashion. Representatives of the Learning Collaborative on High-Risk Drinking met last week at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Austin to compare notes and strategies.
Kim, who is a physician and an anthropologist, and Bob Saltz, a senior research scientist at the Prevention Research Center in Berkeley, Calif., discussed the challenges in an interview with the American-Statesman.
Statesman: Binge drinking is generally defined as five or more drinks in a row within the last two weeks.
Kim: Yes, within a two-hour period — and that’s for men. For women, it’s four.
Why do students do this?
Kim: My own view, as a medical doctor, is that for 18- to 24-year-olds — and even younger people — who are not sure of themselves, who’ve learned a lot about the possible dangers of drinking, alcohol is absolutely the perfect and first and most powerful designer drug ever made.
Kim: It shuts off your prefrontal cortex. So if you’ve learned something, it tends to go out the window after you’ve drunk alcohol. The prefrontal cortex has a constant inhibitory impact on the nucleus accumbens, which is that part of your brain that drives you for immediate gratification. So it gets rid of everything you’ve learned, knocks out your ability to judge and make decisions based on rationality, and excites that part of your brain that wants immediate gratification. It does exactly what young people want it to do.
What interventions or practices seem to be helpful?
Saltz: Brief motivational interviewing is one of the key ones. It’s a therapeutic style especially helpful in emergency rooms when students are brought in injured by their drinking. Students are led to the realization that their drinking is interfering with other more important goals in life. Kim: The window seems to be 72 hours, which in my view is the amount of time that you’re still feeling the physiological effects of alcohol.
In 2008, your predecessor at Dartmouth joined with about 100 other college presidents in calling for lowering the drinking age to 18, saying that would reduce binge drinking. Do you subscribe to that view?
Kim: I don’t. I’m a public health physician. There are two pieces of evidence. The 21-year drinking age has reduced automobile accidents in every group of people of that age except college students. Moreover, I’m beginning to be more and more convinced by data on the toxicity of alcohol for adolescent brains. Saltz: One of the challenges is the sort of defeatism of many administrators and students, who say it’s too hard-wired into the culture of campuses. Kim: At the end of the day, the thing we fear the most as presidents is that somehow we would not have done something that we could have done that would have prevented a death. It’s the same thing that I fear as a doctor, and maybe that’s why I focused so much on it when I walked into this job.