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What’s Wrong with Binge Drinking? Plenty.

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alcohol bottlesLet’s start with the bad news: binge drinking is strongly correlated with dangerous driving, assault, risky sex and long-term illness. That’s according to TIME magazine, which got its information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

So what’s the good news? Some of the time, people aren’t binge drinking when they consume alcohol.

If that sounds weak to you, it is: 90 percent of the alcohol teenagers drink — and more than half of the alcohol adults drink — is consumed during binges. Furthermore, binge drinking rates haven’t declined in fifteen years.

According to the CDC, binge drinking means having had a bunch of drinks at one sitting some time in the past month. (Okay, the CDC does not use the word ?bunch.? If you’re a teenager or an adult male, the technical definition is that you had five more drinks in a couple of hours in the past 30 days. If you’re an adult woman, you had four or more drinks in the same time period.)

There’s more: according to the director of the CDC, most binge drinkers consume about eight drinks at a sitting weekly. Even worse, government data can account, at most, for about 32 percent of alcohol consumed in this country, based on state sales data. Which means that people surveyed by the CDC are seriously underreporting how much they’re drinking.

And that brings us around again to the public health impacts of alcohol consumption: drunk driving, fights, sexual assault, STDS, and alcohol-related illness.

Maybe it’s time we started taking binge drinking seriously.

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