Killer Binge Drinking is Not Just for Frat Boys
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Killer Binge Drinking is Not Just for Frat Boys


Binge drinking has always been a problem on college campuses. When 18-year-olds abandon the rule of their protective parents, they can go bat-shit crazy with booze, drinking vast amounts without thinking about the fall-out—barfing all over the person they’re making out with on the torn couch of the nearest frat house, blacking out, generally making an ass out of themselves or even ending up in the nearest ER. In short, there’s a reason for that “Enjoy it now, because after college it’s called alcoholism” bumper sticker.

Okay so college kids = binge drinkers may be old news. But how about the fact that the other group to be concerned about is middle-aged white men?

Maybe they’re just ex-frat boys.

Not a Small Problem

The CDC just released some unnerving stats. After studying drinkers from 2011 to 2012, they discovered that 2,200 Americans die from alcohol poisoning per year. That’s a good six people per day. Though this isn’t a scientific definition, binge drinking is basically chugging high volumes of booze in a short period of time—which for the average alcoholic, sounds like a typical way to wind down after a hard day of work, or the average dose of pre-drinking we do before we hit the club.

But it’s not just 20-somethings that are at risk. Six percent of people whose bodies give out from drinking are men, most between the ages of 45 and 54. And if you think the problem is higher among Native Americans guzzling “fire water” on the nearest reservation, you’re wrong. Sixty-eight percent of the deaths are among non-Hispanic whites. Hispanics trail far behind, making up only 15% of the casualties.

The CDC claims that, in addition to all this data, alcoholism is a contributing factor, but not by much—they say only 30 percent of alcohol deaths are due to the disease, adding that “other drugs” play a role in only three percent of the fatalities.

In addition to the race and age predictors, the location where the deaths occurred also seem to play a role. Apparently, if you live in the West, New England or the Great Plains, you have a higher chance of landing in a six-foot grave when you binge on booze.

Some Drinking Tips

The CDC was kind enough to publish some helpful tips to make sure your heart or lungs don’t stop when you overdo it on Absolut or Jose Cuervo. They suggest cutting out the Red Bull and other energy drinks while drinking since this leads to drinking longer and in greater amounts (in non scientific terms, not feeling as shit-faced as you really are). They didn’t mention the added risk of snorting coke or chewing on amphetamines but I think we can all agree that that this is an assumed recommendation as well.

Hard Drinking or Alcoholism?

So let’s get this straight. The CDC claims that only 30% of deaths from alcohol poisoning are “due to alcoholism.” That’s kind of a crock of shitty mashed potatoes to anyone who knows anything about alcoholism. I say that if someone downs eight drinks in two hours, there’s a fairly decent chance that person suffers from the phenomenon of craving—that physical compulsion to keep drinking despite the consequences—which is the essence of alcoholism.

Yes it’s true that college kids may not know how to handle their liquor, making them not alcoholic but just naïve and fairly dumb. But periodic alcoholism is also possible, and if anyone is so out of control that they have to get completely blitzed four times a month on the weekends, I think we can assume that’s a possibility too.

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About Author

Tracy Chabala is a freelance writer for many publications including the LA Times, LA Weekly, Smashd, VICE and Salon. She writes mostly about food, technology and culture, in addition to addiction and mental health. She holds a Master's in Professional Writing from USC and is finishing up her novel.