CHICAGO – Citing an important Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study on the dangers of binge drinking, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today called for more federal money for alcohol prevention and education programs that will help address the serious public health problem. The study, published in the current issue of the American Journal of Public Health, reported that binge drinking and its related health consequences are on the rise, particularly in suburban and metropolitan areas.
“As the number one public health problem in Illinois, alcohol abuse is a major cause of preventable deaths, illnesses and disabilities,” Governor Blagojevich said. “We need to do more to educate our citizens about the costly, tragic and deadly consequences of binge drinking. An investment in prevention is an investment in the health and safety of all Illinoisans.”
Binge drinking is defined as consuming five or more alcoholic beverages within a few hours. The report in the April issue of the journal states that binge drinking is most prevalent among males between 18 and 34 years old. In Illinois, the CDC study ranked the Quad City area (Rock Island and Moline) sixth in the nation of those 18 and older who have had five or more drinks within a few hours in the past month.
In addition, DHS-funded survey of Illinois students found nearly 10 percent of Illinois eighth graders reported binge drinking and that figure rises to 36 percent among high school seniors.
Other studies show that persons who consume large quantities of alcohol often face serious consequences related to their binge drinking. They are more likely to cause property damage, have problems with the law, perform poorly in school, experience injuries, be sexually assaulted, engage in risky sexual activity, and contract a sexually transmitted disease than those who did not drink heavily. In fact, 67 percent of male sexual aggressors and 50 percent of their victims had been drinking at the time of sexual assault or attack. The Illinois Department of Transportation reports nearly half of all traffic fatalities are alcohol-related.
“We must do a better job of telling the public about the dangers of excessive drinking,” said Carol L. Adams, Ph.D., Secretary of the Illinois Department Human Services (IDHS), the state agency that provides funding for substance abuse prevention and treatment programs. “Prevention starts with our young people because kids who drink heavily often go on to have substance abuse problems later in life.”
IDHS provides funding to a network of community-based programs that work to prevent alcohol and other drug abuse.
“Our prevention programs are in need of a strong boost and I am going to take that message to Washington and the Illinois Congressional delegation,” Governor Blagojevich. “Every alcohol-related fatality in Illinois is one too many and one that may have been prevented.”
Additional federal money would be used to bolster the IDHS-funded community-based prevention system that fosters and promotes substance abuse prevention statewide.
Binge drinking may also be an indicator of alcoholism, however a person who drinks heavily may not think they have a problem. Last year, more than 51,000 persons sought treatment for alcohol addiction at state-funded treatment programs last year. If you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol, treatment is available. For more information call toll-free 866/213-0548.