Excessive alcohol abuse is an ongoing problem in American culture. According to the CDC, there are about 80,000 deaths a year that can be attributed to alcohol use and approximately 1.2 million emergency room visits. Interestingly, in a recent study done in the ER department of an East Baltimore hospital, researchers found that between April 2010 and June 2011, 105 patients had been consuming alcohol within the previous 6 hours prior to their ER visit. Out of these 105 who admitted to it, 69% were male and had been consuming beer. In another study from the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Zurich and Lausanne University Hospital, researchers found that men who drink beer have riskier behavior than those that drink other alcoholic drinks. Some thoughts on this are that instead of drinking a glass of wine, or a distilled beverage in moderation, these men tend to binge drink more often.
The definition of binge drinking is 4 or more drinks in a single sitting for women and 5 or more for men. Many people think that drinking beer is a more moderate approach to drinking alcohol because it has less alcohol than a typical drink containing hard alcohol. This belief most likely contributes to an individual’s beverage choice when out drinking and why beer use contributes to so many ER visits. This is actually a myth. In reality a bottle of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine and 1-½ ounces of hard alcohol included in most mixed drinks contain equivalent amounts of alcohol.
There are a number of health risks that alcohol users should be aware of before picking up that first bottle of beer. You may not consider yourself a heavy drinker, or an alcoholic, but one night of binge drinking can lead to:
· Unintentional injuries like traffic accidents, falls and drowning – according to the CDC almost 30 people in the U.S. die in car accidents that involve alcohol each day.
· Violence like domestic and child abuse – about 1/3 of all victims’ report that the abuser was under the influence of alcohol.
· Risky sexual behavior – this includes assault, obtaining a STD, increased chances of pregnancy.
· Alcohol poisoning – this is an issue we hear about every year when college starts in Fall and young adults have their first freedom away from home.
If you know someone exhibiting this risky behavior or recognize the signs in your own life, seek support before it’s too late! Many people find AA meetings, group therapy or individual psychotherapy helpful. Another leading resource is to take an alcohol education class online. This format of learning allows the individual to stay in the privacy and quiet of his or her own home and gain knowledge at their own pace.
Online alcohol education classes are available to fulfill legal requirements and to proactively take control of your life. Many of our clients encourage their young adults who are getting ready to leave for college for the first time, to take an 8-hour class. The time is well spent learning the facts, risks and repercussions of drug and alcohol use. Participants learn the skills they need to walk away from peer pressure and uncomfortable situations. The fact is that alcohol is part our culture, but learning the unbiased truth about intoxication can help us all to reduce intake, or commit to abstinence and ultimately improve our lives.