Editorial: Wisconsin is again on topWe’re No. 1! We’re No. 1! Unfortunately we’re not talking about the Wisconsin Badgers football team or the Green Bay Packers. The sad truth is this: Of all 50 states, Wisconsin is number one in binge drinking.
We’re No. 1! We’re No. 1! Unfortunately we’re not talking about the Wisconsin Badgers football team or the Green Bay Packers. The sad truth is this: Of all 50 states, Wisconsin is number one in binge drinking.
Not only does the Badger state boast the largest number of average drinks per binge occasion (nine), but the state also leads the nation with 26% of the population engaged in binging!
Overall, about one in six U.S. adults surveyed said they had binged on alcohol at least once in the past month, though it was more than 1 in 4 for those aged 18 to 34. Many officials believe those numbers are underestimated. According to reports, alcohol sales figures suggest people are buying a lot more alcohol than they say they are consuming.
Binge drinking is generally defined as four drinks for women and five for men in a period of a few hours. Binge drinkers aged 18 to 24 reported nine drinks, or one more than the national average of eight drinks.
New estimates (2010 study) by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that 38 million adults in the United States binge drink about four times per month. (that’s where the one in six adults number comes from).
But, in Wisconsin, estimates show one in four Wisconsin adults — nearly 26% — binge drink.
So, what are the consequences?
-- Binge drinking results in 40,000 deaths in the United States each year. It contributes to drunken driving and domestic violence, plus long-term health care problems that cost all of us money. CDC officials estimate that binge drinking in the United States cost $223.5 billion in 2006.
-- Most impaired drivers binge drink.
-- Most people who binge are not necessarily alcoholics. Experts say fewer than 20% of binge drinkers would be medically diagnosed as alcoholics.
-- More than half of the alcohol adults drink is while on a binge. Health officials estimate that about half of the beer, wine and liquor consumed in the United States by adults each year is downed during binge drinking.
-- More than 90% of the alcohol that youth drink is while binge drinking.
It is also possible that a round of binge drinking could lead to acute alcohol poisoning. But how many drinks at one sitting could kill you depends on many factors, including how big you are, what you consumed and how quickly you did it. Is it worth the risk?
The upper Midwest continues to report the highest incidents of binge drinking. Wisconsin topped the list, while West Virginia, at just under 11%, was the lowest in the nation.
Minnesota was also on the high end of the problem with 20.1% of adults involved in binge drinking. On average, Minnesota residents had more than 7.4 drinks at a time.
We’re not sure where to begin to try and address this issue — it seems to have gotten out of hand. With one in four adults in our state binge drinking, it makes the problem a hard one to bring under control.
Wisconsin has tightened a few drunk driving laws, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement as we see regularly that people are out driving the streets despite having multiple drunk-driving convictions.
At some point, rational people have to make an informed decision and come to an obvious conclusion — these numbers are unacceptable!
The Journal’s online poll question this week asked: Do you follow the popular TV show ‘American Idol’?
Early results show: NEVER. 58.1%; OCCASIONALLY, 25.8%; ALWAYS, 12.9%; ONLY IF I KNOW A CONTESTANT, 3.2%.
To add your vote, check out the Journal’s website at www.riverfallsjournal.com