Current Issues: Alcohol


Drinking isn’t the cheapest way to spend a Saturday night. According to a recent CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) study, it was found that as your bar tab increases, so does the tab for the rest of America.  April is Alcohol Awareness Month and becoming aware of what alcohol abuse costs our society is vital.  Excessive alcohol consumption costs the U.S. about $224 billion, that’s $746 for each American per year. Breaking down those costs goes something like this: 72% for loss of workplace productivity; 11% for healthcare costs; 9% for law enforcement and courts; 6% from drunk-driving related crashes.

Binge drinking, a pattern of excessive alcohol use, is a dangerous and costly public health issue. A binge drinker is defined as a man who consumes 5 or more drinks on one occasion and a woman who consumes 4 or more drinks on one occasion. Remember that one standard drink equals 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor. Also, important to note is that most people who binge drink are not alcoholics or alcohol dependent.

Recent national surveys tell us:

  • Although college students commonly binge drink, 70% of binge drinking episodes involve adults age 26 years and older.
  • About 75% of the alcohol consumed by adults in the United States is in the form of binge drinks.
  • The income group with the most binge drinkers: more than $75,000.
  • The income group that binge drinks the most often and drinks the most per binge: less than $25,000.
  • More than half of the alcohol adults drink is while binge drinking.
  • More than 90% of the alcohol youth drink is while binge drinking.
  • The proportion of current drinkers that binge is highest in the 18 to 20 year old group. `

Excessive alcohol use is the 3rd leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the United States. There are approximately 79,000 deaths attributable to excessive alcohol use each year in the nation. Other consequences include: unintentional injuries (car crashes, falls, burns, drownings); intentional injuries (sexual assault, domestic violence); sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancies; alcohol poisoning; long-term health risks such as liver diseases, neurological damage, and cardiovascular problems. The list goes on and on.

Binge drinking varies from state to state, but data shows that the Midwest has a high percentage of binge drinkers. In the past year, Jones County has been identified as one of 23 counties in the state of Iowa to receive federal funding to help reduce its adult binge drinking rate and to reduce underage drinking. The Jones County Safe and Healthy Youth Coalition has a strong base of volunteers that come from all areas of the county to work on substance abuse issues. The Coalition is a strong partnership of schools, community and faith based organizations, law enforcement, health care, and public health agencies committed to reducing substance abuse, including adult and youth binge drinking. Come join us in working on solutions to these issues. Monthly meetings are usually held on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at the Coalition office, 110 S Williams Street in Anamosa. Call 319-462-4327 x202 for more information. Find us at