The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a report on binge drinking in the US last week that is quite alarming. It provides a host of facts that should alarm any trauma professional. And I’m fairly certain that these statistics apply to just about any other country as well.
The study indicated that 1 in 6 adults in the USA is a binge drinker! My understanding of the term binge is that 5 or more alcoholic beverages are consumed at one sitting. Obviously, this behavior puts one at risk for trauma, including interpersonal violence, car crashes, and injuries due to falls. About 80,000 people per year die due to this, and it costs our economy over $200B per year.
Here are some of the factoids that were uncovered:
- The highest number of binge drinkers was in the 18-34 year age group
- The 65+ year age group drank the most during a binge (!!)
- Most alcohol-impaired drivers were binge drinking (!!!)
- The average highest number of drinks consumed during a binge was 8. In an average drinker, the resulting blood alcohol concentration would be about 0.24 mg/dl, or 3 times the legal limit.
- The northern tier states tended to have the most binge drinkers (18-25%)
What can trauma professionals do? In the US, all Level I and II trauma centers verified by the Amican College of Surgeons are required to screen all patients for problems with alcohol. This requirement should be adopted at all centers, regardless of country or level. Additionally, specific prevention programs should be developed, and existing community programs should be supported.