HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. --
Binge drinking accounts for an average of 44,000 deaths and $191 billion in economic costs to our Nation each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 percent or higher. This typically happens when men consume five or more drinks, or women consume four or more drinks in approximately two hours. A standard drink contains about one-half an ounce of pure alcohol. Generally, this amount of pure alcohol is found in 12 ounces of regular beer, eight ounces of malt liquor, five ounces of wine or one-and-a-half ounces of 80-proof liquor (i.e., whiskey, gin, rum, etc.).
Alarmingly, the CDC estimates that 1 in 6 U.S. adults binge drinks, with 25 percent doing so at least weekly, on average, and 25 percent consuming at least 8 drinks during a binge occasion. While binge drinking is most common among individuals 18 to 34 years old, more than 50 percent of the total binge drinks are consumed by adults 35 years old and older. Binge drinkers are 14 times more likely to drive under-the-influence of alcohol versus non-binge drinkers. Also, individuals aged 12 to 20 years drink 4 percent of all alcohol consumed in the U.S., and 90 percent of this alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinks.
Additionally, excessive alcohol use has immediate effects that increase the risk of many harmful health conditions. These immediate effects are most often the result of binge drinking and include:
- Unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes, falls, drownings and burns.
- Violence, including intimate partner violence and child maltreatment. Approximately 25 percent of victims, of violent crimes, report that offenders are under the influence of alcohol.
- Risky sexual behaviors, including unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners, and increased risk of sexual assault. These behaviors can result in unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections.
- Chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and liver disease.
- Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon.
- Alcohol poisoning: a medical emergency that results from high blood alcohol levels that suppress the central nervous system and can cause loss of consciousness, low blood pressure, low body temperature, coma, respiratory depression or death.
To eliminate binge drinking and promote responsible use of alcohol, the NIH recommends low-risk drinking. Low-risk drinking is men consuming no more than four drinks on any single day and no more than 14 drinks in a week; and women consuming no more than three drinks on any single day and no more than seven drinks in a week.
To further educate the American people regarding the vital importance of practicing low-risk drinking, the NIH Rethinking Drinking initiative offers numerous online interactive tools and resources (i.e., Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) calculator; Drink-size calculator; Cocktail-content calculator; Alcohol-spending calculator; Alcohol-calorie calculator; Drinking-tracker & drinking-analyzer cards; etc), which are accessible via the following website:
If you are considering changing your drinking habits, you will need to decide whether to cut down or to quit. It’s a good idea to discuss different options with a doctor, a friend, or someone else you trust.
Quitting is strongly advised if you:
- Try cutting down but cannot stay within the limits you set.
- Have had an alcohol use disorder or now have symptoms.
- Have a physical or mental health condition that is caused or worsened by drinking.
- Are taking a prescription or over-the-counter medication that interacts with alcohol.
- Are or might be pregnant.
If you do not have any of the above-listed conditions, talk with your doctor to determine whether you should cut down or quit based on factors such as:
- Family history of alcohol problems.
- Your age.
- Whether you’ve had drinking-related injuries.
- Symptoms of sleep, pain or anxiety disorders or sexual dysfunction.
For more information, contact the Hurlburt Field Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment (ADAPT) Program at (850) 881-4237. The ADAPT Program provides a wide range of prevention education, outreach, evaluation, counseling, treatment and aftercare support services to active duty military members. The ADAPT Program is located at 130 LeTourneau Circle (i.e., building # 90311; directly behind the Hurlburt Youth Center).
Family members of active duty personnel should contact TriCare-Humana East at (800) 444-5445 for information and assistance in obtaining substance use evaluation and treatment services.