Binge Drinking

NARRATOR: Today, more than half
of the alcohol consumed by adults in the U.S. occurs during a pattern
of behavior known as “binge drinking” — a risky behavior
that can lead to illness, injury, and even death. The National Institute
on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as “consumption that raises
blood-alcohol content to .08%,” the cut-off point
for driving while impaired in all 50 states. DR. BREWER: Binge drinking is
an extremely dangerous pattern of alcohol consumption, which is defined as four or more
drinks per occasion for a woman, five or more drinks per occasion
for a man. DR. JERNIGAN:
And we estimate that there are approximately
1.5 billion episodes of binge drinking in the U.S.
each year. NARRATOR:
Binge drinking literally
fuels dangerous behavior. Binge drinkers are 14 times more
likely to report driving drunk than non-binge drinkers. DR. JERNIGAN:
88% of impaired-driving events are caused by binge drinkers. DR. BREWER:
Binge drinking is associated with over half of the 79,000
alcohol-attributable deaths that we estimate occur
in the United States each year. NARRATOR: Though many doctors
consider binge drinking to be a dangerous
health behavior, many Americans think that binge
drinking is socially acceptable. DR. JERNIGAN:
Alcohol’s the most widely
available drug of intoxication in our society. NARRATOR: This dangerous pattern
of over-consumption contributes to illness,
injury, and death through car crashes, violence,
HIV/AIDS, and more. DR. BREWER: Binge drinking
is also associated with a wide range
of health and social problems, including unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, interpersonal violence, and the list goes on and on. NARRATOR: The truth is
that most binge drinkers are adults who drink too much
on occasion. DR. BREWER:
We estimate that about 70% of the 1.5 billion episodes
of binge drinking that occur in the United States
each year involve people
who are 26 years and older. DR. JERNIGAN: The majority of
problems, of alcohol problems, are caused by people who think that
they’re not problem drinkers. DR. BREWER:
There’s good scientific evidence that over 80% of binge drinkers are not alcohol-dependent
or alcoholics. NARRATOR: Unlike other high-risk
health behaviors, the risk of binge drinking goes
up with socio-economic status. DR. JERNIGAN:
In fact, binge drinkers most commonly make
more than $50,000 a year. Binge drinking is a problem
for individuals, but it’s a problem
that is engendered by community environments that
are supportive of this behavior. DR. BREWER:
We need to implement effective
community-based strategies to prevent binge drinking. DR. JERNIGAN: The single most
effective thing we could do to reduce binge drinking would be to increase
alcohol taxes. DR. BREWER: So, too, is reducing
the number of places where people can purchase
alcohol in a community. DR. JERNIGAN: Reducing
days and hours of sale is another important strategy. NARRATOR: Communities need
to create an environment that discourages underage
and binge drinking. DR. BREWER: We need to maintain
and also enforce the age-21
minimum legal drinking age. NARRATOR:
Armed with these strategies, communities can begin
to fight back against the proliferation
of alcohol outlets, advertising, and drink specials. DR. BREWER: We need to
de-normalize binge drinking as a pattern
of alcohol consumption. DR. JERNIGAN:
It is far too risky and harmful
a pattern of drinking. NARRATOR: Binge drinking — It’s a clear health threat
for the drinker and for society. Be responsible to your family,
your community, and yourself. Don’t binge drink.

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