Is Binge Drinking Increasing Alcohol Addiction?
Jeff Foxworthy rose to fame on the punchline, “. . . you might be a redneck.” We laughed at jokes like:
“If you own a home with wheels on it and several cars without, you just might be a redneck,” or “If your dog and your wallet are both on a chain, you might be a redneck.”
As hilarious as his humor is, like nearly all comedy, it sometimes hints at some serious underlying issues. Take, for instance, these:
“If you think ‘loading the dishwasher’ means ‘getting your wife drunk’, you might be a redneck,” and “If your idea of a 7-course meal is a bucket of KFC and a six-pack, you might be a redneck.”
The obvious implication is that rednecks are characterized in part as binge drinkers. Perhaps that is true. But, so are many other Americans, including college students across the country and 20 percent of the population right here in Seattle.
“Almost 60 percent of college students ages 18–22 drank alcohol in the past month and almost 2 out of 3 of them engaged in binge drinking during that same timeframe.”
“Let’s Party!”–Seattle’s Rallying Cry?
Much of binge drinking happens at frat houses and, post-college, at parties, barbecues, and friendly get-togethers. It also happens in bars, nightclubs, and within the comfort of home. What does all of this say about binge drinking? Binge drinking is not necessarily a habit, but it is a choice. In fact, when some people say, “Let’s party!” they are implying, “Let’s binge drink!”
There are differences between having a drink, drinking moderately, binge drinking, and alcohol addiction. Rather than defining each, it might be more significant to visualize them as choices on a journey.
|Choice One ->||Choice Two ->||Choice Three ->||Destination|
|Having a drink||Drinking moderately||Binge drinking||Addiction|
- Not everyone takes that entire journey, but “One in six U.S. adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about eight drinks per binge.” (Note that the ratio in Seattle is one-in-five.)
- Binge drinking is defined as a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level to 0.08 percent or more. This pattern of drinking usually corresponds to 5 or more drinks on a single occasion for men or 4 or more drinks on a single occasion for women, generally within about 2 hours.
- Binge drinking accounts for more than half of the estimated 80,000 average annual deaths.
- Binge drinking accounts for “three-quarters of $223.5 billion in economic costs resulting from excessive alcohol consumption in the United States.
- Although college students commonly binge drink, 70 percent of binge drinking episodes involve adults age 26 years and older.
- More than half of the alcohol consumed by adults in the United States is in the form of binge drinks.
- If you have more than four drinks within a short period of time on any day, you may run the risk of injuring yourself or others, particularly if you drive too soon after drinking. And if you start to increase the number of “heavy drinking days” over time, your chances for alcohol-related harm will increase as well.
- Researchers at Stanford University have identified a link between binge drinking and alcohol addiction.
The title question is, “Is Binge Drinking Increasing Alcohol Addiction in Seattle?” To answer that question, consider this personal application with some fundamental reasoning.
- Choosing to have a drink could lead to drinking in moderation.
- Choosing to drink in moderation could lead to binge drinking.
- Choosing to binge drink is likely to lead to alcohol addiction.
Does that make sense? (That’s a rhetorical question. Of course, it does.)
Now, given that the above is true, and given that Seattle has a higher ratio of binge drinkers than the U.S. average . . . Seattle, we have a problem.
Are you somewhere on the alcohol abuse journey? (See the chart.) If you are, you have the opportunity to make a choice today to keep traveling down that road or not. However, here is a word of caution. Once you have started binge drinking, becoming addicted may not be a choice, but a consequence.
Make wise choices before you no longer have the power to make a choice. You do not have to be one of the 20 percent in Seattle that overindulges in alcohol. If you are, get help right now. You are not helpless or hopeless. Reach out to contact us today and take your first step toward a healthier, happier life free from addiction.