Alaska Life Hack: Binge drinking, up or down? - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, February 23, 2020
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Alaska Life Hack: Binge drinking, up or down?

ALASKANS SELF-REPORT CLOSE TO NATIONAL AVERAGE

The percentage of adult Alaskans who report to have binged on booze has stayed relatively steady over the past decade. In 2008, some 16.1 percent of Alaskans admitted to binge drinking, while in 2018, 15.9 percent say they overdid it, according to federal CDC data (or 16.4 percent, according to the State’s data.) The survey question refers to the “past 30 days.”

That’s lower, at least, than in 1994, when nearly 25 percent of Alaska adults said they enjoyed more than five alcoholic beverages for men (four for women) in one occasion. And it’s heading in the right direction, even if the federal and state statistics don’t fully align.

A fact to keep in mind before raising a glass to the sobriety of Alaskans: Alaskans in general are getting older. Alaska has a senior population growing at a faster rate than any other state. And the older they get, the less likely Alaskans are to binge drink. After age 64, the number of admitted binge drinkers drops to 6.2 percent.

Old-timers, unsurprisingly, are less likely to binge drink than any other adult age group.

As for other demographic breakdowns, Asians have lower levels of binge drinking prevalence (6.2 percent), while Alaska Natives, once anchoring the high end for binge drinking (28 percent in 1991), appear to have made the greatest strides, and are now at the statewide binging average of 15.9 percent, according to the State’s data.

Men report more binge drinking than women — 21.1 percent compared to 11.5 percent.

Only 15.9 percent of Alaskans admit to binge drinking during the past 30 days.

Alaskans stating that they have binged in the past 30 days is only slightly higher than the median for the United States, which was 16.2 percent in 2018.

These are all self-reported behaviors, which may skew the numbers lower than what is actually occurring.

AND THEN THERE’S NEW YEAR’S EVE

It’s a safe bet the alcohol survey wasn’t conducted in January, when Alaskans would have had to report their most recent New Year’s Eve celebratory uncorking.

Alaskans’ chance of encountering a binge drinker goes up substantially on this day — 47 percent of men and 40 percent of women admit to binging on booze as they welcome the New Year.

According to Alcohol.org, New Year’s Eve also had the highest percentage of both men and women reporting a previous blackout while celebrating the beginning of a new year. Of those surveyed by the organization, 27.3 percent of men and 16.7 percent of women said they had imbibed enough to have “difficulty recalling their celebration.” 

What do people drink most on New Year’s Eve?

Champagne is far-and-away the most popular drink, followed by tequila and vodka – liquors that can lead to blackouts more quickly than beer due to their higher alcohol content.

On average, men drank 5.1 drinks, while women drank 3.7 on New Year’s Eve. Men aged 40- 44 were the heaviest drinkers for New Years Eve, while middle age women in that age group drank the least of all age groups, according to the website.

So be careful out there. It’s likely that more than half of the vehicles on the road on New Year’s Eve will be operated by someone who has had at least one drink.

Alaska State Troopers will be out in force, as part of a stepped-up effort over the past three weeks to combat impaired driving.

Their focused enforcement through Dec. 23 had resulted in:

  • 20 misdemeanor DUI arrests.
  • 20 drivers with suspended or revoked license.
  • 16 REDDIs reports and five drivers contacted (all were determined not to be DUI).
  • Of the 525 citations issued, 243 were for speeding and 13 were for seatbelt violations.

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Written by

Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Binge drinking is different from Alcoholism which is way more common with adults in America.
    Alaska seems to have more “functional Alcoholics” than binge drinkers…
    National guidelines list 4 or more drinks a day makes an “Alcoholic”, yet only 2 drinks while driving a vehicle will put you over the legal limit.
    This means you can still drive home ever day “legally intoxicated” and not technically be considered an Alcoholic by our National Guidelines?
    Best to play it safe and organize a designated driver or call a cab if you are heading out to “tie one on” tonight.
    Even better strap on some skinny skis and go out and explore by headlamp with a few friends to bring in the New Year.

  • REDDI people are a bunch of
    Consnitchuents.
    Mind your own business, people.

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