Tag: CDC

Women are Leading the Charge of Alcohol Abuse

The New Numbers on Alcohol Abuse

According to a new report from the American Journal of Public Health, binge drinking and heavy drinking are on the rise. In fact, according to some reports, heavy drinking rose by 17.2% between 2005 and 2012. One of the reason for this large increase? Women are drinking more often and in larger amounts.

The report, complied by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations at the University of Washington, was published in late April. To generate it, researchers studied data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. This is a recurring phone survey conducted by the CDC.

Researchers examined almost four million Americans’ drinking patterns. It’s important to note they only looked at adults twenty-one and older, so these new statistics don’t reflect underage drinking trends.

This study, led by Dr. Ali Mokdad, a professor at the University of Washington and former CDC bigwig, is the first of its kind. No other survey, report, or study has examined adult drinking behavior on a national level.

The results? Well, find a full and detailed breakdown below, but the gist is that people are drinking more booze more often. The drinking patterns of women are especially concerning. Between 2002 and 2012, rates of binge drinking among women rose seven times more than similar rates among men.

Dr. Mokdad had the following to say about female alcohol consumption, “It seems like women are trying to catch up to the men in binge drinking…It’s really, really scary” (Kaiser Health News).

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New Binge Drinking Statistics

The latest binge and heavy drinking statistics are in. The numbers are surprisingly high. Find a full breakdown below, but first it’s important to define what constitutes binge drinking and heavy drinking.

According the CDC, heavy drinking is when men have more than two drinks per day and women have more than one drink per day. Binge drinking, on the other hand, is when men have five or more drinks in one sitting and women have more than four drinks in one sitting. The timeframe used to measure both binge and heavy drinking is within the last month.

Find the newest statistics below!

  • Between 2005 and 2012, the percentage of people who engaged in heavy drinking was between 2.4% and 22.4%. This averages to around 12.4% of all US drinkers.
  • The percentage of people who engaged in binge drinking was between 5.9% and 36%. That averages to around 21% of all US drinkers.
  • During this same period, binge drinking rates among women rose around 36%. Compare this to binge drinking rates among men, which rose only 23%.
  • In 2010 upwards of 88,000 deaths were attributed to alcohol.
  • Heavy drinking is estimated to cost the United States, and private companies, more than $220 billion dollars each year.
  • Taxes on alcohol haven’t risen along with the cost of living. In effect, this makes alcohol cheaper now than in the past. Researchers believe this may be one of the causes of increased binge and heavy drinking.
  • A study found that alcohol companies spent approximately $3.45 billion to promote their products in 2011 alone. Researchers suggest this as another possible cause of increased rates of alcohol abuse.

Why are Women Drinking so Much?

There isn’t a simple answer as to why women are drinking more often and in greater quantities than ever before. As noted above, researchers suggest the price of alcohol, mixed with the billions spent in advertising, may be a large influence. Unfortunately there’s not definitive proof about whether this is true.

I believe, and it’s been floated in discussions about this data, that changing societal roles have had a major impact on how women drink. This certainly makes sense to me. Think about it – fifty years ago, even twenty years ago, women simply didn’t have the freedom they have today. Broadly speaking, women were unable to go out and drink to excess.

Fast forward to today’s world. Society thinks nothing of a group of women going to the bar. In so many ways this is an amazing thing. In a world beseeched by racism, classism, ageism, and many other “-isms,” the freedom women have is remarkable. However, it can also result in unintended and negative consequences, like this recent rise in female alcohol abuse.

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A Drastic Shift in Drug Abuse Prevention Spending

They Want HOW Much Money?!

With drug abuse exceeding epidemic proportions in the United States, it’s time for something drastic to be done. Think about it – opioid overdose fatalities are now the leading cause of injury related death. We’re no longer in a painkiller or heroin epidemic, we’re in an all-out guerrilla war.

2016 senate drug abuse prevention budget-min

It’s clear that the government hasn’t had much success with prohibitory measures. It looks like they’ve taken this idea to heart and, in their proposed budget at least, are ready to make some shifts in federal spending.

Fourteen US senators recently petitioned Congress for a large increase in the 2016 drug abuse prevention budget. Spending large amounts of federal dollars to fight substance abuse and addiction is nothing new. What is new are the programs these senators would like to see backed.

What programs and agencies will benefit the most from this proposed budget? Find out below!

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And the Winning Agencies are…

The three agencies set to directly receive money from the proposed 2016 budget are the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the National Institute of Health (NIH). There are a number of secondary agencies and programs which will no doubt benefit, but there three are the big winners.

So, how much money does Congress want for each agency? Well, let’s look at the CDC first. According to the senators,

“We request that you fund drug overdose prevention and monitoring activities at the CDC at a total of $68.0 million, which is equal to the President’s budget request and an increase of $53.6 million over FY 2015” (Senator Tammy Baldwin’s Site).

$68 million is a lot of money! As Senator Baldwin mentioned, however, it’s the same as Obama’s 2016 proposed drug abuse prevention budget. It looks like their budgets are aligned on CDC funding.

Of the proposed $68 million, $48 would be used to “strengthen and expand the Prescription Drug Overdose (PDO) Prevention for States program to all 50 states.” The money would be broken down into individual state bundles and used for improving prescription drug monitoring programs.

Portions of the proposed $68 million will also be put towards direct prescription drug overdose interventions, data gathering, data monitoring, mortality surveillance, and “developing safe opioid prescribing guidelines…”

It’s important to note that the CDC wouldn’t be receiving this money in a vacuum. Rather, they’d be working alongside other agencies that are also set to receive significant sums of money. That brings us to SAMHSA.

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SAMHSA

Senator Baldwin and her fellow senators believe the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration should receive $25.1 million. As noted above, although this may be a large sum of money and a $13 million increase from our current fiscal year, it’s equal to President Obama’s proposed 2016 budget.

So what programs in SAMHSA would this cool 25 million dollars be funding? Well, first and foremost is the Medication-Assisted Treatment for Prescription Drug and Opioid Addiction.

This program, according to Baldwin, will “expand treatment for opioid use disorders, with a focus on heroin and prescription opioids through a combination of medication and behavioral therapies services.” In layman’s terms, they’re talking about Suboxone, Subutex, and the like.

Another $12 million of SAMHSA’s proposed federal dollars would go towards allowing individual states to purchase, distribute, and implement naloxone programs.

Heroin overdose is changing dramatically…

The Final Verdict

But wait, we haven’t talked about the NIH yet! There’s good reason for that. The senator’s 2016 budget is rather vague about the NIH’s cut of drug abuse prevention funds.

Although Senator Baldwin and others would like the National Institute of Health to receive $54.7 million dollars, there aren’t detailed plans for how this money will be allocated. The bulk of it will be to conduct clinical research in collaboration with the VA, but details beyond that remain sketchy.

So, is the 2016 proposed budget good or bad? Unfortunately drug abuse prevention is too complicated an issue to simply label this budget as good or bad. I believe, though, that the majority of this money will be money well spent. That is to say, I believe the agencies and projects it’s funding are well worth the investment.

Or course, the ultimate acid test is to see how this budget works in action. After all, with overdose deaths and general substance abuse at an all-time high, it’ll be easy to see if this money, allocated to these agencies and programs, produces noticeable results. Let’s hope it does.

Do You Drink to Excess? A New Government Study Thinks So

More Americans Drink to Excess Than Even Before

drinking to excess

A new study from The Center for Disease Control claims that one in three, or 33%, of American adults drink to excess.

 

Think about that for a minute. The CDC is saying that a third of everyone over the age of eighteen drinks too much. That works out to approximately 100 million people.

 

Really, give that number a minute to sink in.

The Silver Lining

Okay, ready for some good news to balance out those scary numbers? Well, according to Robert Brewer, the co-author of this new study, “most people who drink too much are not alcohol dependent.”

In fact, the study found that only 10% of excessive drinkers meet the criteria for alcoholism. The number was the same for binge drinkers – only 10% of those who admitted to binge drinking meet the criteria for alcohol dependence.

Among those who don’t drink to excess or binge drink, the percentage of alcoholics was found to be just over 1%. That sounds like a more realistic number to me.

Before we go any further, let’s clarify exactly what drinking to excess, binge drinking, and alcohol dependence/alcoholism mean.

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What is Drinking to Excess?

The CDC defines drinking to excess differently for men and women. For men, it’s consuming fifteen or more drinks per week. For women, it’s consuming eight or more drinks per week.

These numbers make it a bit clearer why so many Americans drink to excess. Most people have a glass of wine or a beer with dinner. If they do that every night, and then have a few drinks over the weekend, they’re drinking to excess.

These numbers also explain why a mere 10% of excessive drinkers meet the criteria for alcoholism. Although people may be drinking too much, they don’t have trouble stopping, and they don’t experience withdrawals when stopped.

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What is Binge Drinking?

Binge drinking is also defined differently for men and women. For men, binge drinking is when they consume more than five drinks in a short period. For women, it’s when they consume more than four drinks in a short period.

It’s important to note that these are rough estimates. Binge drinking depends on a person’s weight, height, and how quickly they metabolize alcohol.

While binge drinking has long been associated with alcoholism, this isn’t always the case. Remember, the CDC’s new study found that only 10% of those who binge drink are alcohol dependent.

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What is Alcohol Dependence?

Alcohol dependence, or alcoholism, is one of the most misunderstood terms in the English language. Ask ten people what alcoholism means and you’ll likely get ten different answers.

what is binge drinking

There’s the twelve-step definition of alcoholism, which proposes that it’s a disease of body, mind, and spirit. Then there’s the medical definition. This proposes alcohol dependence is a rewiring of the brain which leads to physical withdrawal symptoms and the inability to stop drinking despite negative consequences.

For the purpose of this article, I’m going to define alcohol dependence as the CDC does. They explain alcoholism as a chronic disease that includes “a strong craving for alcohol, continued use despite repeated, physical, psychological, or interpersonal problems, and the inability to limit drinking.”

Enough Statistics & Definitions: What Does This Mean for Me?

Statistics and definitions are boring if we can’t tell how they impact our lives on a day-to-day level. So, the question becomes how, if at all, do these new numbers about excessive drinking affect you?

To put it simply, most people aren’t going to be affected at all by this study. That’s because most people fall into the category of excessive drinking as defined above. They drink a small amount on a regular basis. Over a period of time, say a week or month, these drinks add up to make them, technically speaking, excessive drinkers.

However, and this is an important however, their alcohol use doesn’t negatively impact their lives. So, despite being excessive drinkers, their live aren’t unmanageable.

For binge drinkers, these new numbers mean they should closely monitor their alcohol intake. Speaking from experience, it’s a swift transition from drinking too much on the weekends, to drinking too much everyday.

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