The Many Causes of Binge Drinking in America
Over the past few years, drugs such as spice, marijuana, OxyContin and heroin have dominated the headlines and have been a regular presence on the front pages of newspapers and social media. While there is no doubt these drugs have caused great concern among health professionals, lawmakers and citizens across the country, the number one used drug in America continues to be alcohol. In regards to alcohol use in the United States, The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism provides the following statistics:
- In 2013, 86.8 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime; 70.7 percent reported that they drank in the past year; 56.4 percent reported that they drank in the past month.
- In 2013, 24.6 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the past month; 6.8 percent reported that they engaged in heavy drinking in the past month.
Given the long-standing and widespread appeal and use of alcohol, the numbers of those who binge drink have remained consistently high
The Prevalence of Binge Drinking in the United States
When it comes to excessive drinking behaviors, binge drinking is the most common pattern of excessive alcohol use in the country. According to The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking can be defined as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration level to 0.08 grams percent or above. This concentration is normally achieved when men consume 5 or more drinks, and when women consume 4 or more drinks, in about a 2-hour span.
The Centers for Disease Control provides the following statistics and information about binge drinking in the United States:
- One in six U.S. adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about eight drinks per binge.
- While binge drinking is more common among young adults aged 18–34 years, binge drinkers aged 65 years and older report binge drinking more often—an average of five to six times a month.
- Binge drinking is more common among those with household incomes of $75,000 or more than among those with lower incomes.
- Approximately 92% of U.S. adults who drink excessively report binge drinking in the past 30 days.
- Although college students commonly binge drink, 70% of binge drinking episodes involve adults age 26 years and older.
- The prevalence of binge drinking among men is twice the prevalence among women.
- Binge drinkers are 14 times more likely to report alcohol-impaired driving than non-binge drinkers.
- About 90% of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the United States is in the form of binge drinks.
- More than half of the alcohol consumed by adults in the United States is in the form of binge drinks.
Binge drinking is the cause of many including car crashes, sexual violence, an increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases, and sexual dysfunction. Additionally, binge drinking can cause significant and potentially life-threatening health issues including diabetes, liver disease, high blood pressure, stroke and other cardiovascular issues.
Why Do People Binge Drink?
There is a variety of reasons that people may engage in binge drinking. Some of the most common reasons are the following:
The Fun Factor
The most common reason why people binge drink is because it is fun and allows them to “relax and let their hair down”. Alcohol allows people to let loose their inhibitions and to relieve the stresses and pressures of everyday life, whether it is is family, work or school related. Binge drinking is a very common occurrence in parties to the point where a party without any alcohol is deemed a disappointment.
The Need to Feel Socially Confident
For those who are introverted and feel socially awkward, drinking alcohol allows them to loosen up and feel more at ease in social situations. Alcohol does allow people to feel more uninhibited, and many people young and old have admitted to indulging in excessive drinking to feel like they are part of the crowd, to feel desirable and sexy and to get out there and mix with others.
The Need to Feel Superior and to Assert Dominance
For men who drink, they may engage in binge drinking to in order to show others they are macho and to show them “who is the boss”. Examples of this include taking part in drinking contests and engaging in fights or other physical altercations among other things.
Wanting to Forget Problems
As with all drugs, their abuse is seen as a symptom of deeper psychological issues. One of the most common reasons why people binge drink is to forget about their problems and to relieve the stress these problems cause. Although the act of binge drinking in order to let go of stress is a pretty common occurrence, doing so on a regular basis can make one susceptible to the pitfalls of alcohol abuse and lead them to start depending on the substance as their primary coping mechanism.
Another common reason why people engage in binge drinking behavior–and especially for young drinkers–is due to the effects of peer pressure. Many high school and college-age people may drink excessively in order to feel like they fit into the social scene. By drinking to excess, young people may think they become more popular or desirable.
The Need to Rebel
For many young people, the act of drinking may occur as a need to rebel against their parents, especially if their relationship with the parents is strained. Binge drinking can be seen as a weapon of sorts that can be used against their parents to rebel against their rules and norms. Additionally, many young people may drink because it is and “adult” thing to do and they feel it asserts their independence.
Are You Struggling With Alcohol Abuse?
Alcohol dependence and abuse can have debilitating and devastating effects on your health and your relationships with your family and other loved ones. If you are struggling with alcohol abuse, you can turn to Ocean Breeze Recovery Center for the programming and support you need to beat your addiction. Our experienced staff utilizes a wide variety of therapies that are effective and proven to work. They are able to individually tailor a treatment program that will best fit your needs and give you the best chance at long-term recovery.
Beat alcohol addiction today…call Ocean Breeze Recovery Center.