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Excessive Drinking in Colorado Costs Billions

PHOTO: It's estimated that about one in six adults in the U.S. drinks "too much," and while excessive alcohol can cause a variety of health problems, very few people say they discuss this issue with their doctor. Photo credit: Jirka Matousek
PHOTO: It's estimated that about one in six adults in the U.S. drinks "too much," and while excessive alcohol can cause a variety of health problems, very few people say they discuss this issue with their doctor. Photo credit: Jirka Matousek
January 14, 2014

DENVER - At least 38 million Americans drink too much, according to a new report from the CDC, and experts say the costs and dangers of binge drinking are especially acute for women.

According to Dr. Jane Maxwell, senior research scientist at the University of Texas, women who pre-party or try to keep up with men with the numbers of drinks they put down the hatch are putting themselves at added risk of chronic health issues such as cirrhosis and cancers, and also for STDs and sexual assault.

"This is a risky combination, particularly if they play drinking games with the guys, like beer pong or some of these others," Maxwell warned. "They're getting their BAC (blood alcohol content) up very high, very quickly, and a lot of times they don't really realize that they are at risk, losing control."

The CDC report notes that only about one in six people talks to a doctor about drinking, although alcohol screening and brief counseling could help heavy drinkers cut their consumption by 25 percent.

In addition to a greater focus by health-care professionals, Maxwell said, families also need to get involved.

"When I was growing up, one of the lectures from momma was, 'Don't get drunk because you might get pregnant,' she recalled. "When I ask people that I'm lecturing to, other than the older women, they look at me like I'm crazy, because mothers don't give that lecture very often."

Binge drinking is also linked to increased risks for car crashes, falls, burns and firearms injuries.

That CDC report is at 1.usa.gov/1gx7W2I.

Stephanie Carroll Carson/Bill De Armond, Public News Service - CO