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21 Facts About Alcohol, Drinking Habits, And Consequences

Like baseball, binge drinking is somewhat of an American pastime. We tend to romanticize it or build it up into an inevitability, as when we read articles about the biggest “party schools” in the US. Going to college will be for many students their first exposure to alcohol. However, this problem goes further than with college students alone. There’s nothing wrong with drinking in moderation, and arming yourself with knowledge is the first step toward maintaining your self-control. Next time one of your buddies threatens to drink you under the table, keep these facts in mind.

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1. Individuals who drink for the first time before the age of 15 are about four times more likely to develop a drinking problem later in life, as compared to people who wait until they turn 21.

2. There are nearly 200,000 alcohol-related emergency room visits made by underage drinkers every year.

3. Teens who binge drink regularly are about three times more likely to engage in self-harm (attempted suicide and self-mutilation) than those who do not.

4. It's tempting to think of alcohol as a great way to relax and reinvigorate yourself, but the BATF (Bureau of Alcohol and Tobacco and Firearms) has barred alcohol companies from using the word "refreshing" to describe their products.

5. Sodas are popular drink mixers, but alcoholic drinks that contain carbonated beverages tend to be absorbed more quickly by the human body than even straight shots of alcohol.

6. When polled, about 90% of teens in the US indicated that underage drinking is not worth the potential consequences, including violent behavior and confrontations with the law.

7. Binge drinking is defined for males, as consuming five drinks (one beer or one shot of hard liquor) in less than two hours. For females, it's four drinks.

8. Alcoholism is the second-leading cause of dementia in Americans.

9. Academic problems among college students, such as tardiness and poor grades, are attributed to alcohol consumption about 40% of the time. College dropouts cite alcohol as a contributing factor about 28% of the time.

10. According to the CDC, alcohol is recognized as a contributing factor in 73% of all felonies, 41% of rape cases, and 83% of all homicides in the US.

11. Violence is a common side effect of alcohol consumption. A 2003 study indicated that those who engage in binge drinking are about four times more likely to engage in violent behavior.

12. Alcoholics are frequently stereotyped as lower-income individuals, but the opposite generally holds true: America's highest drinkers belong to the middle and upper-classes.

13. Contrary to popular belief, binge drinkers do not typically drink every night. Most binge drinkers consume alcohol in excess on just two nights per week. It's not surprising that those two nights are typically Friday and Saturday night.

14. It's commonly held that girls mature quicker than boys, but underage drinking among 14 year old females is actually more common than in males of the same age.

15. Even moderate use of alcohol can impact endurance and muscle control for up to 18 hours after the last drink is consumed.

16. Contrary to popular belief, white wine is no less alcoholic than red wine.

17. Alcoholism in the US is very nearly a full-blown epidemic. There are about 17.6 million alcoholics in America. In other words, about 15% of the population of the US can be considered "problem drinkers."

18. In the US, one person is killed in an alcohol-related automobile accident every half-hour.

19. Drinking in excess is an expensive way to pass the time. College students in America spend an estimated $5.5 billion on alcohol per year. This outpaces their combined spending on coffee, soda, water, milk, and books.

20. Binge drinking accounts for about 75% of all alcoholic beverages consumed in the US. In addition, more than 90% of American adults, when polled, admitted to having engaged in binge drinking in the past month.

21. Among Americans aged 15 to 24 years, the top three leading causes of death are automobile crashes, suicide, and homicide. Alcohol is recognized as a contributing factor in all three of these.

While there's no denying that alcohol abuse is a significant problem in the US, there's nothing wrong with drinking in moderation from time to time. The dangers of alcohol to the physical self, not to mention the wallet, are almost never worth the fleeting pleasure that binge drinking may provide.

A big part of fighting alcohol abuse is maintaining good judgment for ourselves, but don't underestimate the power of peer pressure; if your friends are engaging in behavior that's disrupting their social or academic lives, and encouraging you to do the same, it may be time to hang out with a different crowd.

References

- 12 Keys Rehab Alcohol Facts

- http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AA67/AA67.htm

- http://www.ncadd.org/index.php/for-the-media/alcohol-a-drug-information

- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11831606

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