Move Over “Binge Drinking,” Now This

By Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, Special for  USDR

A substantial proportion of young adults are engaging in levels of alcohol consumption beyond the “binge” threshold, sparking new concerns among public health  professionals.

That according to the latest edition of the Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy’s Emerging Drug Trends report, produced in collaboration with the University of Maryland School of Public  Health.

“About half of the people we call binge drinkers, who meet the typical binge drinking criteria of having five or more drinks in a row, are actually drinking about twice as much alcohol as that,” said Dr. Megan Patrick, from the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, whose recent studies are among those highlighted in the new report. “It became clear that high-intensity drinking—for example, drinking 10 or more drinks in a row—was more common than we  thought.”

“We are seeing more problems with college-educated women in particular, who are now drinking far more, and with greater consequence, than in previous generations,” added Dr. Joseph Lee, Medical Director of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s Youth  Continuum.

Nick Motu, Vice President of the Institute, which is part of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, the nation’s leading nonprofit provider of addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery services, said: “Amid our country’s devastating opioid epidemic and heated debates over marijuana policy, it’s important to remember that alcohol remains America’s most pervasive drug and the one most harmful to public health and the  economy.”

The May 2017 report on high-intensity drinking—defined as consuming 10 or more drinks in a single sitting—is the second edition of the new monthly Emerging Drug Trends report designed to provide front-line treatment and research perspectives on America’s No. 1 public health problem— addiction.

This month’s report indicates about one in nine young adults (11 percent) were classified as high-intensity drinkers from 2005 to 2015, with similar prevalence among high school  students.

“This research is another reminder that alcohol—as our most accessible and culturally acceptable drug—is the one that most often triggers problems in people who are susceptible to substance misuse, addiction and other related health issues,” said Dr.  Lee.

“People in high-risk populations, who often drink excessively in combination with other substance use, will likely develop severe alcohol use disorder and experience a host of other tragic consequences,” Dr. Lee continued. “Unfortunately, these high-risk individuals are rarely identified and helped, until it’s too late. Instead, they remain hidden in a popular culture that has both normalized problem drinking and failed to let go of the delusional thinking that everyone reacts to alcohol in the same  way.”

Dr. Lee said that even those with low risk of developing alcohol use disorders “suffer from the ramifications of excessive drinking—from DUIs, car crashes and violence, to date rape” and that “millions more are affected by the collateral  damage.”

More and earlier intervention is needed, said Dr. Amelia Arria, Associate Professor and Director of the Center on Young Adult Health and Development at the University of Maryland School of Public  Health.

“Regularly asking about alcohol consumption patterns to detect individuals at risk for problematic consumption should be common practice for physicians and other health care professionals who manage the care of young adults,” Dr. Arria said. “Early intervention to address problematic drinking trajectories is essential to mitigate possible health-related  consequences.”

The report is available  here.

About the Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery  Advocacy
Our mission is to provide a trusted national voice on all issues related to addiction prevention, treatment and recovery and to facilitate conversation among those in recovery, those still suffering and society at large. We are committed to smashing stigma, shaping public policy and educating people everywhere about the problems of addiction and the promise of recovery. The Hazelden Betty Ford Institute for Recovery Advocacy is part of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, the nation’s largest nonprofit treatment provider. Learn more at and on Twitter  @hbfinstitute.

About the Hazelden Betty Ford  Foundation
The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation helps people reclaim their lives from the disease of addiction. It is the nation’s leading nonprofit treatment provider, with a legacy that began in 1949 and includes the 1982 founding of the Betty Ford Center. With 17 sites in California, Minnesota, Oregon, Illinois, New York, Florida, Massachusetts, Colorado and Texas, the Foundation offers prevention and recovery solutions nationwide and across the entire continuum of care for youth and adults. It includes the largest recovery publishing house in the country, a fully-accredited graduate school of addiction studies, an addiction research center, an education arm for medical professionals and a unique children’s program, and is the nation’s leader in advocacy and policy for treatment and recovery. Learn more at and on Twitter  @hazldnbettyford.

SOURCE Hazelden Betty Ford  Foundation

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