Binge Drinking Is Up? Oh, Scientists, That’s Just Called Life


Hey, everyone! It’s summer and Wednesday and our news organizations are all a little tired and sluggish, so we just thought we’d let you know: Drinking is up! Yep, that’s right. According to the lovely scientists who like to monitor this sort of thing, hopefully with at least one beer in hand, more adults in the U.S. appear to be drinking alcohol than ever, reports CNN. What’s remarkable about this latest booze study is not that everybody’s drinking, but that drinking is crossing racial and gender barriers!

Between 1992 and 2002, the percentage of men and women who drank alcohol increased, as did the percentage of whites, blacks, and Hispanics, the study found.
Americans don’t seem to be drinking more, however, as the average number of drinks consumed per month remained steady.

Hooray! But then, as usual with these studies, there’s the buzz kill: Drinking is staying about the same for everybody except for one group: So-called binge-drinkers, those dangerous, immoral characters among us who may suck down more than five drinks in one day, are embarking on dangerous territory. Apparently there’s an uptick in us. (And, yes, I said us. Because raise your hand, New Yorker who is neither 90 nor pregnant nor ill in some way in which wisdom would prevail over drinking, if a month goes by in which you do NOT drink five or more drinks at least once in a 24-hour period). C’mon, try me. There can’t be that many of you. And FYI: I have not done a keg stand since sophomore year.

As for those of us who will own up to this behavior, there’s almost zero chance we don’t already know that binge drinking is “bad” — blah, blah — and may be associated with alcohol abuse — we’re just fine, thank you — and that you might want to lie to your doctor about how much you actually take in regularly else you get some annoying lecture about “preventive measures.” (We also know that people have died of binge drinking, but five glasses of pinot grigio on one wild Saturday night in July does not Andrew Koppel make.)

The rise in the proportion of drinkers and in binge drinking could be a sign that society is more accepting of alcohol consumption (and overconsumption), says Dr. Stephen Bahr, Ph.D., a professor of sociology at Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah.

Perhaps, but the rise in the proportion of these drinking studies that call us binge drinkers could be a sign that we need a drink. Anyway, if you do drink, just make sure you’re drinking good shit. And if you start to feel dizzy or see stars or fall down or call yourself “Antonia Banderas” while waving a butter knife about like Zorro, pack it up and go home. At least, that’s the rule we live by.

Then again, this could very well be a strong case of denial.

PS: The title of CNN’s article, “More Americans Drinking (Alcohol)” is really quite sweet. Thanks for assuming we drink anything else!