On October 20, police raided a bar in Fairfield, CT, and found more than 100 underage drinkers, many of them college students. While many debate whether the legal age for consuming alcohol should remain 21 or be lowered to 18, perhaps the question more important than who is drinking is how much people are drinking?
Binge drinking is the dangerous practice of consuming enough alcohol to bring a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume five or more drinks, and when women consume four or more drinks, in about two hours (National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism). While binge drinking is most often associated with college students, quick stats on binge drinking provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention paint a larger picture of the problem. Notably, 70 percent of binge drinking episodes involve adults older than 25.
Binge drinking carries the risk of alcohol poisoning and other serious health consequences, and can put the drinker at greater risk for being victimized by crime. So, as crime prevention practitioners, how do we reduce the amount of binge drinking that occurs among adults who can legally purchase and consume alcohol? The CDC recommends increasing alcohol taxes and regulating where and when alcohol can be sold.
But another component to addressing binge drinking is increasing public awareness of the problem. Increasing awareness among adults may prove challenging. Many educational materials about alcohol abuse are directed at young people, with key messages about not drinking before age 21. But what materials target adults with messages about the dangers of binge drinking?
It’s Crime Prevention Month, a time to celebrate and enhance our crime prevention efforts. If you have implemented programs or developed materials about binge drinking that target adults in their 20s, I invite you to share them through a comment about this blog. Perhaps your work can inspire another practitioner to expand their alcohol abuse prevention efforts to address a new facet of the issue with a new population.