One Man's Dinner Party Is Another Man's Binge, Especially If the Other Man Has a Degree in Public Health

Based on data from the federal government's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, researchers at Duke University report that one-fifth of men and one-tenth of women between the ages of 50 and 64 have gone on a drinking binge in the last month. That sounds fairly alarming until you realize that our government defines "binge drinking" as consuming five or more drinks on one occasion. Yesterday, for example, I had a mint julep in the early evening, a glass of wine during dinner, and a Tom Collins afterward. Because those two cocktails each contained a couple of shots, this series of beverages qualified as one standard U.S. binge, even though I did not go on a violent rampage, drive my car into a hydrant or a pedestrian, or neglect professional or family responsibilities because of my preoccupation with drinking. As I noted several years ago:

This counterintuitive definition of [binge drinking], often used by alcohol researchers in the United States, causes confusion, and not just among laymen. It is quite different, first of all, from the traditional definition of an alcoholic binge, which involves devoting days or weeks to drunkenness.

As State University of New York sociologist David J. Hanson puts it, binge "describes an extended period of time (typically at least two days) during which time a person repeatedly becomes intoxicated and gives up his or her usual activities and obligations in order to become intoxicated. It is the combination of prolonged use and the giving up of usual activities that forms the core of the clinical definition of [a] binge."

Then, too, the CDC's notion of a binge is different from that of alcohol researchers in other countries. Hanson notes that "a recent Swedish study...defines a binge as the consumption of half a bottle of spirits or two bottles of wine on the same occasion." An Italian study viewed eight drinks a day as normal, while "in the United Kingdom, bingeing is commonly defined as consuming 11 or more drinks on an occasion."

The authors of the new study, which was published by The American Journal of Psychiatry, are also worried about "at-risk" drinking, defined as two or more drinks a day, a level of consumption reported by 19 percent of men and 13 percent of women in the 50-to-64 age group. (Those Americans needn't cut down on their drinking to avoid the "at-risk" designation; they also could move to the U.K., where two drinks a day are considered perfectly acceptable.) "At-risk and binge drinking are frequently reported by middle-aged and elderly adults nationwide and are therefore of public health concern," the researchers conclude. "Clinicians working with middle-aged and older adults should screen for binge drinking and coexisting use of other substances." I doubt that such nagging will reduce alcohol consumption, but it may drive down the numbers that alarm these researchers by encouraging people to be less candid about their drinking habits.

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  • kinnath||

    Dinner and conversation with friends: 4 adults, 4 bottles of wine, over 4 hours.

    Fuck Duke ;-)

  • PantsFan||

    5 or more drinks in one evening?

    I call that Tuesday night.
    and Wednesday.
    and Thursday.
    etc.

  • Warty||

    "in the United Kingdom, bingeing is commonly defined as consuming 11 or more drinks on an occasion."

    They go to 11?

  • ||

    I wonder why the concern of 50-64 year olds. Could it be they are worried what to do with these irresponsible folks when they reach the age of govt care? Maybe they're all getting wrecked because they think their kids will be living with them forever if the govt destroys all job creation.

  • Spartacus||

    The authors of the new study, which was published by The American Journal of Psychiatry, are also worried about "at-risk" drinking, defined as two or more drinks a day...

    At risk of what, exactly? Is there any actual evidence that two drinks a day increases one's risk of anything?

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Jacob,

    The first step is admitting you have a problem.

    Why would anyone drink more than two drinks? Two is all I need for a fine evening!

  • Gunboat Diplomacy||

    "It is quite different, first of all, from the traditional definition of an alcoholic binge, which involves devoting days or weeks to drunkenness."

    They call me Mister Old School. ;-)

  • ||

    Being over-served never qualifies as binge drinkin.

  • ||

    It is the combination of prolonged use and the giving up of usual activities that forms the core of the clinical definition of [a] binge.

    What if prolonged use IS my usual activity?

  • ||

    you'd hafta be hammered to live in england...

  • dude||

    What if prolonged use IS my usual activity?

    Have you considered AA?

  • Spartacus||

    If you pass out for a few hours and then start drinking again, does that count as one binge or two?

  • jtuf||

    The Passover Seder includes for cups of wine. That much alcohol has never been enough to impare my friends and relatives. I can't imagine one more cup bringing someone into binge territory.

  • Mad Max||

    'Dinner and conversation with friends: 4 adults, 4 bottles of wine, over 4 hours.

    '[expletive deleted] Duke ;-)'

    To be fair, Duke University is far better known, and far more accurately known, for drinking than for nagging about drinking. This in spite of the university's Methodist heritage.

    I'm not just talking about the students (although I've read a reliable account of a student holding a keg party to celebrate his baptism). To my own personal knowledge, Duke administrators have billed the federal government for dining out at fancy restaurants - and a fancy restaurant, almost by definition, is not a teetotaling restaurant.

  • ||

    Why not have 11 drinks in the UK? It's not like the nanny state will actually let you pay for your stupid behavior. That's what all those other chumps are for.

  • anarch the libertarian teetota||

    even though I did not go on a violent rampage, drive my car into a hydrant or a pedestrian



    "Civilians" are pussies.

    As for AA, have a look at rational.org instead.

  • T||

    If you pass out for a few hours and then start drinking again, does that count as one binge or two?

    I'm gonna go with one. Technically speaking, I would say any period where your BAC never falls to zero qualifies as a binge. So that month I spent drunk probably qualifies.

  • ||

    Spartacus:

    are you out of coke too? cause that matters...

  • ||

    The Passover Seder includes four cups of wine.

    Manischewitz is the ugliest face of Anti-Diabetism.

  • ||

    Watchit SF... they'll throw you in the sin bin

  • ||

    I always thought a "binge" was a weekend in Vegas or New Orleans where go home hungover praying you are not facing a social disease or paternity suit. Anyone who thinks five drinks is a binge is just pathetic.

  • CatoTheElder||

    Teetotalism is but another dreary, politically correct conclusion of godless progressives and communitarians. The individual exists for the greater good of his/her community; alcoholic beverages impair the ability of the individual to serve his/her community and potentially impose costs upon the community in the form of substance abuse, lost productivity, health effect, etc.; therefore alcohol is to be condemned.

    What's next? The Junior Anti-Sex League?

    I think it was Ben Franklin who said, "Beer is proof there is a God, and that He wants us to be happy." TJ wrote about rights including the right to persue happiness ... but modern progressives and communitarians don't recognize the existance of natural rights.

  • ||

    My PA is a very cute 20 something woman. She is very nice and a good PA, but totally engulfed in the latest medical PC. I always enjoy the look on her face during a physical when I tell her I drink five to ten drinks every Friday night and own three loaded and unlocked guns.

  • ||

    Did Mad Max just cock block someone's quote?

  • ||

    "What's next? The Junior Anti-Sex League?"

    I believe "Feminist" is the proper term for that.

  • anarch||

    Cato, unless you were just being silly, what on earth is wrong with another person's choice not to drink alcohol?

  • ||

    Is there any actual evidence that two drinks a day increases one's risk of anything?

    Not passing a breathalyzer test in most states.

  • Paul||

    s "binge drinking" as consuming five or more drinks on one occasion.



    Holy shit! I think I'm binging now!

  • ||

    "Cato, unless you were just being silly, what on earth is wrong with another person's choice not to drink alcohol?"

    Nothing. Cato is talking about enforcing your decision not to drink on everyone else.

  • anarch||

    Well, I don't drink on everyone else! :-)

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    when I tell her I drink five to ten drinks every Friday night and own three loaded and unlocked guns.

    Sounds like a good time to me! (I'm assuming you don't have suicidal tendencies (not the band)).

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    have a look at rational.org instead.

    I'm amazed they can stand being rational and sober.

  • ||

    "Sounds like a good time to me! (I'm assuming you don't have suicidal tendencies (not the band))."

    Works for me.

  • ||

    http://www.drunkard.com/

    http://www.drunkard.com/banners/legion_of_booze.jpg

  • ||

    Cato, it is my experience that 'godless progressives' are among the last in line (perhaps to the front of libertarians criticizing substance use. The 'individuals are part of a community' line is straight out of the Christianist right's playbook - tied right in with the need for personal responsibility - and often accompanied by appeals to God, the soul, and the virtue of sobriety.

    The godless can divorce the reality of drugs from the gross sensationalism that usually dominates those discussions. And progressives often understand the deleterious effect drug wars and other forms of prohibition have on citizens and the republic.

    Almost all forms of prohibition in the US are or were the result of conservatives and Christians.

  • ||

    As State University of New York sociologist David J. Hanson puts it, binge "describes an extended period of time (typically at least two days) during which time a person repeatedly becomes intoxicated and gives up his or her usual activities and obligations in order to become intoxicated. It is the combination of prolonged use and the giving up of usual activities that forms the core of the clinical definition of [a] binge."



    Childless, single shut-ins can drink all they want whenever they want and never "binge?" Cool!

  • T||

    what on earth is wrong with another person's choice not to drink alcohol?

    Not a damn thing, as long as they aren't trying to make everybody else obey your twisted idea of the proper way to live.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Why the complicated definition? Clearly binging involves blacking out and/or vomiting/urinating in unusual places.

  • T||

    Why the complicated definition? Clearly binging involves blacking out and/or vomiting/urinating in unusual places.

    Not necessarily. You can maintain a semi-functional buzz for a long time without blacking out.

    And what's an unusual place for urination? I'm male: the world is my urinal.

  • Spartacus||

    Spartacus:

    are you out of coke too? cause that matters...



    If there was any coke left, I wouldn't have passed out, and therefore would still be on the same binge.

  • Meta4||

    Off topic, but just as Mountain Dew refers to itself as "The Dew", I think Butterfinger should refer to itself as "The Finger" The ads would be great!

    Want to make your teacher happy? Give her the finger.

  • anarch||

    aren't trying to make everybody else obey your twisted idea of the proper way to live.



    On what evidence do you judge that someone else's way of living, which doesn't harm you, is "twisted"? Again, unless you're just being silly.

    But every so often I'm jolted by what at least appears to be inordinate cultural intolerance hereabouts.

  • Spartacus||

    Unless, of course, I was too drunk to find my nose. In which case passing out is probably for the best.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Awesome link, Longtorso.
    BoozeTown would boast its own currency: visitors would exchange their US dollars for BoozeBucks upon entrance. Each buck would be backed by "liquid gold"-a vast vault stocked with barrels of whiskey at the BoozeTown Bank.

    Now why didn't I think of that?

  • anarch||

    That is to say, which of us is deciding, even mentally, what is proper for others who haven't consulted us, let alone without knowledge of the particular facts of the case?

  • Paul||

    Why the complicated definition? Clearly binging involves blacking out and/or vomiting/urinating in unusual places.

    I think I'm binging right now!

  • Citizen Nothing||

    My 21-year-old son is living the twisted life of a tee-totaler. I suppose it's his form of rebellion.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Not necessarily. You can maintain a semi-functional buzz for a long time without blacking out.

    Well, then you're good. To me, binging means going beyond rational limits of intake. I've pushed that barrier a couple times, but only exceeded it once.

  • Meta4||

    "My 21-year-old son is living the twisted life of a tee-totaler. I suppose it's his form of rebellion."

    Then give him the finger.

  • Anonymous||

    it is my experience that 'godless progressives' are among the last in line (perhaps to the front of libertarians criticizing substance use



    Like the Soviet Orthodox?

  • Rich||

    I always enjoy the look on her face during a physical when I tell her I drink five to ten drinks every Friday night and own three loaded and unlocked guns.

    Given that she's "totally engulfed in the latest medical PC", I trust you *smile* when you say that.

  • Brian Lockwood||

    Almost all forms of prohibition in the US are or were the result of conservatives and Christians.

    Except for bans on trans-fats, automatic weapons and the eventual ban on smoking.

  • hmm||

    I had a boos that would kill a 6 pack on the drive home. Every work day. 52 weeks a year.


    To be fair it was a 1 hour drive home.

    For a really interesting conversation if you home brew and our doc asks if you drink just tell them you really don't know how many drinks, you measure alcohol in 5 gallon kegs. Something about measuring alcohol in gallons really freaks them out.

  • anarch||

    Sorry, all. I'm clearly unqualified for this discussion, too sober in both senses of the word.

  • hmm||

    I give up.

    Boos = boss

  • ||

    Even the nanny state's own medical bureaucrats admit that whether one is bingeing or not has both quantity and time functions.

    Binge Drinking

    Binge drinking is a common pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks, and when women consume 4 or more drinks, in about 2 hours.

    Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent. - the dad-burned gubmint



    I added the bolding.

    If getting legally drunk in under 2 (two) hours isn't a classic binge, it is still reckless behavior if you've got the car keys. If you aren't driving, it's just having a session. Perhaps it needs its own term of art.

    I've made this point previously on H&R, frex, here and here

    PDF of the NIAAA newsletter with the revised, 2004 definition here.

    Kevin


  • T||

    That is to say, which of us is deciding, even mentally, what is proper for others who haven't consulted us, let alone without knowledge of the particular facts of the case?

    Oh ho! It is perfectly appropriate for me to decide what is and is not proper behavior in others. How else do we decide, as an example, who's crazy and who's not? Or who we would prefer to avoid? Nothing wrong with being judgemental, despite what many would have you think in this age.

    It is almost never appropriate for me to force them to comply with my beliefs as to correct behavior. Unless, of course, they are my kids.

  • Brian Lockwood||

    Nothing wrong with being judgemental, despite what many would have you think in this age.

    Word. Anarch should buy you a six pack for explaining that to him.

  • ||

    """Except for bans on trans-fats, automatic weapons and the eventual ban on smoking."""

    Weapons aside, Mayor Bloomberg is a republican. Arkansas republican ex-governor Huckabee passed a law in AR that makes it illegal to smoke in your car if you have kids in it.

    I'd bet that 90% of the pols that passed anti-weapon laws will report their religion as christian. They may not all be conservatives, but they are almost always christian.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    And what's an unusual place for urination? I'm male: the world is my urinal.

    Only two criteria.

    1) Did you get arrested? 2)Were you filled with a deep and abiding sense of shame when your drinking buddy told you where you took a whiz?

  • ||

    Art, in the 21st century, you must also ask if anyone took a picture. That shame you feel hearing about might not be as bad as shame you feel looking at it on the internet.

  • Ska||

    I'd bet that 90% of the pols that passed anti-weapon laws will report their religion as christian.

    What % of politicians aren't Christian?

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    TrickyVic,

    Very true.

  • ||

    Well, "godless progressives" may be a bunch of liberals when it comes to booze, but they sure as heck aren't about smoking, food and consumption of products as a society. Who is it that has railed for years (decades, even) about all the consumption in our culture, all the excess, the houses that are too big, the cars and yachts that are too expensive. They lament that poor people want to have a better lot in life rather than suffering with a crappy house, crappy car, etc.

    Oh, and they nicknamed the current generation of big houses "McMansions" ..... that's a two-fer!

    The really smart western european "progressives" encourage a drinking culture so that the silly proletarians don't notice how crappy euro-progresso-demo-socialism really is.

  • Brian Lockwood||

    I'd bet that 90% of the pols that passed anti-weapon laws will report their religion as christian. They may not all be conservatives, but they are almost always christian.

    Being Religious or at least claiming to be religious is practically a prerequisite for getting elected.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    The really smart western european "progressives" encourage a drinking culture so that the silly proletarians don't notice how crappy euro-progresso-demo-socialism really is.

    Everybody wins!

    And it's like Xeones said about the moralistic streak in politics: they're Pureaucrats.

  • anarch, channeling||

    Sorry, Bud (in both senses), I'm a True Believer when it comes to being judg[e]*mental, so long the judge is possession of all relevant facts. Calling "twisted" all abstention from alcohol (or anything else) without knowing the reasons for the abstention, seems, in the absence of clairvoyant capacities, kinda rash.

    *see?

    Kisses!

  • anarch the joez||

    ...so long AS the...

  • anarch the chargrined||

    ...is IN possession...

    and you think I'm deficient in inebriation?

  • aaaaaaargnarch||

    CHAGRINED

  • anarch||

    I blame gay drinking.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    I'd definitely respect someone for not drinking. Straight edge people are usually pretty cool.

  • ||

    Everybody wins!


    Heh, an argument in favor of a culture of drunken debauchery! Only problem is that you have to live in a stagnant western european culture and economy. Not like that could ever happen here ..... oh ..... wait ..... uhhh, drink up boys!

  • NLGN||

    What do you expect from an administration that represents itself in a national media farce by choosing to drink a Bud Light. I'd rather have two drinks a day than one shrink a week.

    They are worried about 50 to 64 year olds getting hammered and going apeshit townhall style because they are about to get fucked out of what they thought was going to be a retirement as well as decent health care.

  • T||

    I blame gay drinking.

    Isn't all drinking gay, or least convivial?

  • ev||

    This means that I can't remember the last day that I DIDN'T binge drink. It's been definitely at least two years and a half years.

    For a while I thought that I might be an alcoholic, but I realized that I was just bored.

  • ||

    T | August 17, 2009, 4:18pm | #

    I blame gay drinking.

    Isn't all drinking gay, or least convivial?


    kind of a "joi de vino"?

  • ||

    TrickyVic says: Mayor Bloomberg is a republican.

    If being a life-long Democrat means being a Republican, then everyone is a Republican. Bloomberg switched his party registration so he could run on Giuliani's coattails, while avoiding the Democratic primary. Bloomberg switched to an Independent registration during his second term.

  • bohica||

    Off topic, but just as Mountain Dew refers to itself as "The Dew", I think Butterfinger should refer to itself as "The Finger" The ads would be great!

    Want to make your teacher happy? Give her the finger.


    I prefer: Want to make your teacher happy? Finger her!

  • bohica||

    Or, re Mountain Dew, I suppose likewise it should be, "Dew her!"

  • Craig||

    Yesterday, for example, I had a mint julep in the early evening, a glass of wine during dinner, and a Tom Collins afterward.

    A mint julep? Aren't those only served at Kentucky Derby parties?

    A Tom Collins? You must be a Beltway Libertarian. Out West, libertarians drink margaritas. (Except for maybe LoneWackO).

  • Craig||

    I think L. Neil Smith said it best, but I don't recall if he was referring to liberals, or all of the various authoritarian types looking for the government to do something about this or that supposed scourge:

    They're worried that someone, somewhere, might actually be enjoying themselves.

  • dfd||

    our government defines "binge drinking" as consuming five or more drinks on one occasion.

    Now, what exactly counts as a different occasion? So let's say I crush 4 PBR's at the river (hey it wasn't mine), have three glasses of wine with dinner at Big River, four pints at Block 15, two Long Islands at Bomb's Away, an AMF and a Jäger-bomb at the Peacock and a Maker's night cap at China D before hitting the Circle K for a Colt-45 on the way home. Isn't that seven different occasions?

  • anarch||

    Why a government should be defining anything about drinking baffles me.

  • Fletch||

    trickyvic-

    Art, in the 21st century, you must also ask if anyone took a picture. That shame you feel hearing about might not be as bad as shame you feel looking at it on the internet.

    His link has him in Reynoldsburg (Tomato town!), he's surely heard about the

  • MonkeeHeadinSouth||

    "they also could move to the U.K., where two drinks a day are considered perfectly acceptable."

    perfectly acceptable my fecking arse

    any poof drinkin less 5 pints of Stella a day is tarred and feathered

  • ||

    trickyvic-

    One more try...

    Art, in the 21st century, you must also ask if anyone took a picture. That shame you feel hearing about might not be as bad as shame you feel looking at it on the internet.

    His link has him in Reynoldsburg (Tomato town!), he's surely heard about the

  • Fletch||

    trickyvic-

    Abracadabra! (and no linkage...) The video is also linked under my name.

    Art, in the 21st century, you must also ask if anyone took a picture. That shame you feel hearing about might not be as bad as shame you feel looking at it on the internet.

    His link has him in Reynoldsburg (Tomato town!), he's surely heard about the Main St. Camera Project http://www.colscompact.com/camera.html

    A You-tube sampler - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vnomL4i7fE

  • I, Kahn O\'Clast||

    I "binge" most evenings. I binged before writing this... I am thinking about bingey-jumping in a couple...

    Oh, but then again I drink quite a bit. As they say: "if it was good enough to kill grampa it's good enough for me."

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    The non-evangelical subspecies of Teetotaler is a great person to have around when you want to engage in a proper bar-crawl. Buy their [coffee|mountain dew|...] all night and you have ground control, a designated driver, and someone to tell you what you did after the fact.

    What's not to like?

  • Ben||

    Drink up, it has the same health benefits as exercise:

    http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1703763_1703764_1710554,00.html

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