In the midst of the opioid epidemic that has consumed clinical and media attention in recent years, there’s another substance abuse problem that continues to claim the lives Long Island residents, as well as Americans in General: binge drinking. Defined as the excessive consumption of alcohol in a short period of time, binge drinking is an activity in which millions across the United States engage on a regular basis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that one in six adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming eight drinks per binge. The organization also reports that about 92 percent of US adults who drink excessively report binge drinking in the past 30 days. More than half of all alcohol consumed in the US each year is in the form of binge drinking, the same can be said for 90 percent of alcohol consumed by adults under 21.
In Long Island, Binge drinking has claimed over 350 residents over the past five years. Nassau and Suffolk Counties continue to have alarming rates of binge drinking among all populations. As officials continue to tread water in a region that has become plagued by an onset of heroin and opioid fatalities, it’s important that resources also be allocated to further binge drinking education and prevention efforts. In addition to alcohol-related toxicity (alcohol poisoning), there are numerous lifestyle consequences associated with this dangerous and destructive pattern of behavior, including car crashes and other accidents, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy, temporary and permanent neurological damage and dissolution of relationships.
The incredibly high rates of binge drinking have caused many to question whether we should change the definition when in reality, we need to change its trajectory and scope. Education regarding the parameters of healthy drinking and what to when the line becomes blurred between acceptable and excessive alcohol consumption are key to combatting the problem before it gets any worse. Many wear their binge drinking as a badge of honor or consider it a rite of passage; this mindset has cut the lives of far too many tragically short. Whether they succumb to alcohol poisoning or wind up taking or ruining someone else’s life while they’re drunk, the risk that binge drinkers run when they fail to control themselves is just far too great.