WILMINGTON — Binge drinking rates in some population groups are on the rise especially since COVID, and Talbert House Prevention Services in Clinton and Warren Counties is launching an initiative to take on the situation.
Zach McDaniel of Talbert House Prevention Services gave a presentation at a meeting of the Clinton County Board of Health to introduce them to the “Be one of us” initiative. It’s called that because a large majority of Clinton and Warren County adults don’t binge drink.
Some of the highest rates of binge drinking are found in the 18-25 age bracket, roughly college-age youths. Male binge drinking rates in that age bracket have actually decreased by about 5 percent in recent years. However, female binge drinking in that age range has increased by about 71 percent.
Another key demographic the initiative will focus on are parents. That’s because throughout COVID there’s been strong data showing that parents are more likely to binge drink than individuals without kids, McDaniel said.
Alcohol companies have promoted a message of “drink responsibly”. McDaniel said he can get behind that message, but the problem is what does it mean?
“They don’t define, describe, or go into detail of what ‘drinking responsibly’ actually means,” he said.
A good comparison, said McDaniel, would be walking into your bathroom with a headache and opening up a cabinet and grabbing a bottle of Tylenol and rather than having guidelines on amounts, the label just tells you to take responsibly.
“That would be a problem. We would have some people who would take 8 [capsules], and we’d have some people who take 1,” he said.
As to what drinking responsibly means, the initiative is specifying certain low-risk limits, such as no more than one standard-size drink per hour. Of course then the next piece is to define what such a standard serving size is.
“Getting a tall glass of straight vodka is obviously not a ‘standard drink’,” he remarked.
According to the Prevention Services’ instructional card, one “standard drink” is 12 ounces of regular beer, or 8-9 ounces of malt liquor, or 5 ounces of table wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits.
McDaniel gave an illustration.
A motorist is pulled over and tells the officer he only had one or two drinks. Well, one or two what? asked McDaniel.
“Was it 22 ounces of draft beer? Was it craft beer? Very quickly those two beers actually account for 4, 4 ½ ‘standard drinks’,” he said. One of the low-risk guidelines says to consume no more than 3 standard drinks on any single day.
As a new father, McDaniel said if he’s driving he wants to know did he have 2 drinks or did he really have 4½?
Next week at Wilmington College, McDaniel will have a hands-on exercise where students get an opportunity to make a Long Island Iced Tea.
“It’s really interesting because when they make it, it’s shocking how much liquor they put in. And then we can say, how many standard drinks are actually in this Long Island Iced Tea you just made?” he said.
Plans for the college event call for distributing plastic cups that bear the “Be one of us” message. The cups also indicate what a standard drink is. The limits are: 1 standard drink per hour; 2 standard drinks per day; and 3 standard drinks on any single day.
By instructing people on what a “standard” volume drink is and recommending to them boundaries for low-risk drinking, those who drink alcohol can make more informed decisions and then hopefully will make responsible decisions, he said.
Mental Health Recovery Board Serving Warren & Clinton Counties is funding the initiative.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.