binge drinking

Excessive alcohol consumption costs U.S. nearly $2 a drink, CDC reports

Next time you buy a beer, glass of wine or cocktail, think of paying an extra two bucks for it. That’s about the cost per drink that society pays for excessive alcohol consumption, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Researchers tallied the costs of excessive drinking in 2006 in terms of health care, work productivity and law enforcement, and they found it reached $223.5 billion – about $1.90 per drink.
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Misconceptions about the drinking age persist in the face of medical research

This article, by an obviously intelligent teen, extolls the reasons for lowering the drinking age back to age 18. It shows how even well-meant commentary can fail to consider all sides of an issue.

My response to the article follows.

Recent research has shown that the human brain is not finished developing until around age 22. Up until that time, even occasional overindulgence in alcohol (more that 1 drink a day for women, two for men) can cause abnormalities in the neural connections between the two sides of the brain and within both hemispheres. Even one binge (more than five drinks in two hours) can disrupt this development significantly. 

There is a lot of literature on this issue. I suggest beginning with this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/04/health/04teen.html

Should you be worried about your use of alcohol (and, perhaps, other drugs) over the holiday weekend?

Should we be worried about our use of alcohol (and, perhaps, other drugs) over the holiday weekend?

We've been back at work for a couple of days.  The fuzzy head has cleared up.  Maybe we've made that pledge that so many of us have made on the morning (or afternoon) of January 1st, something on the order of, “Man! I'm never going to do that to myself again!”

Never again! (nih.gov)

A bit of cutting loose on New Year's Eve is thoroughly ingrained in our culture, and that of most others through the world. There is something about the holiday — perhaps our resolutions to clean up our act in the coming year — that seems almost to demand it.  Nonetheless, if we tied one on, we may be concerned.

The main thing to look at is our pattern of drinking throughout the year, not our behavior on New Year's Eve. Do we get trashed once a year? Once a month? Do we drink five drinks or more in one sitting? Do we do it often?

Have we ever had a blackout? Contrary to popular belief, “blackout” does not refer to drinking until we pass out — although the two sometimes go hand-in-hand. Rather, a blackout is when we remain conscious, keep partying, and then lose complete track of what we did. Friends tell us about it later on. Relatives comment on late-night phone calls, and we haven't the foggiest notion of what we talked about. We wake up on a concrete slab wearing orange pajamas, and don't know how we got there. Stuff like that.

One blackout, like one DUI, may have been poor judgement. More than one — ever — indicates a problem that needs looking at. Folks without problems don't get a second DUI; they learned their lesson. People who got sick drunk, or otherwise impaired to the point of blackout, are the same way. If it's a recurring pattern, there's a problem.

Did we catch hell from our partner about our behavior? Partner have a black eye? Boss a little cool after the office party? Friends less than friendly? Car dented or misplaced? So sick we couldn't get in to work? Calling in sick after another weekend? Is there a pattern here?

It's not up to professionals to decide if we need help (at least until we mess up to the point that someone has to), it's up to us.

Bottom line: If we're wondering if we have a problem, we probably do. Lying to other folks is rude, and may get is in hot water. Lying to ourselves about our drinking and drugging may ruin the rest of our lives.

Check out the screening tests at the top right of this page, in the sidebar.  They don't take long, but they can tell you a lot.