Melissa Paulsen, MA, LMFT, RPT-S
A Closer Look At: Adult Binge Drinking in Jones County
“If there’s one thing I learned in Al-Anon, it’s that you got to face the music because it just grows louder when you ignore it.” ― Vicki Covington, Bird of Paradise
According to USA Today, in the United States roughly 6 people die every day from alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning occurs when a person consumes a large amount of alcohol in a short amount of time. You may think this figure is talking about teenagers or college students; however, of those people 77% were ages 35-64 and 76% of the total deaths were men. Most people who are dying from alcohol poisoning are not physically addicted to alcohol but rather tend to be frequent binge drinkers. Binge drinking is defined as 4 or more drinks on one occasion for women and 5 or more drinks on one occasion for men.
Binge drinking is having a negative impact on the UnitedHealth Foundation’s National Health Ranking for the state of Iowa. Recently, Iowa dropped from 18th place to 24th place in overall health with one of the factors cited being binge drinking. Iowa also ranks 4th among the 50 states for the percentage of adults who binge drink.
In the state of Iowa, Jones County ranks 2nd in the highest rates of adult binge drinking among all 99 counties. This ranking comes from The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, local law enforcement data, and other various health statistics from the state of Iowa.
Local efforts in Jones County to address binge drinking include offering free training resources for maintaining compliance in alcohol sales, media campaigns to create awareness of this issue, and providing additional support to law enforcement.
Besides consuming 4 or more drinks for a woman and 5 or more drinks for a man on one occasion, another sign of binge drinking includes drinking heavily and consistently on the weekends. Those who feel the need to use alcohol as a buffer to decrease their anxiety in social situations may also be more likely to binge drink. Binge drinking can lead to blackouts, confusion, vomiting, trouble breathing, slurred speech, slowed heart rate, and even brain damage.
So why does it matter? The total economic cost of excessive alcohol consumption in the United States was nearly $224 billion in 2006. Binge drinking costs federal, state, and local governments roughly $0.62 per drink. These figures are based on loss of productivity, healthcare, crime, and other expenses.
If you know someone who is struggling with binge drinking, there are many resources right here in Jones County! To learn more about prevention efforts and to obtain educational materials, you can contact The Jones County Safe and Healthy Youth Coalition by visiting www.jonescountycoalition.org. The Area Substance Abuse Council (ASAC) also offers services in Jones County and you can obtain more information by calling 319.462.4327 or visiting www.asac.us. Outpatient therapy can coincide with substance abuse treatment very well. To get started with a therapist at Life Connections, please call 319.774.2045.
This article was co-written by Melissa Paulsen & The Jones County Safe & Healthy Youth Coalition.
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