The East Bay is home to a number of breweries and cocktail bars, and we are surrounded by countless wineries. Is the easy access to alcohol making it more tempting to enjoy one too many? Whatever the reason, heavier drinking appears to be on the rise, not just here in California, but nationwide.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington recently published a study on drinking habits across the country. Published in the American Journal of Public Health, the article looked at drinking patterns by county, from 2002 to 2012 to estimate the prevalence of drinking, heaving drinking, and binge drinking. Heavy and binge drinking has increased in prevalence in most counties between 2005 and 2012, and some of the area counties followed that trend.
While the percentage of people who drink any alcohol has not changed much over the years, the percentage of drinkers who engage in heavy or binge drinking has been on the rise. Heavy drinking is defined as more than one drink per day over the past month for women, and more than two drinks per day for men. Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks on a single occasion at least once during the past month for women, and 5 or more drinks for men.
Heavy drinking increased nationwide 17.2% from 2005 to 2012. The study suggests that a major source of the increase is due to women drinking more. In Santa Clara County, there was a 36% increase in binge drinking by women, as compared with 23% of an increase among men. Nationwide, 8% of people are considered heavy drinker, and 18% are considered binge drinkers. However, that number varies greatly by county.
Topping the charts is Menominee County, Wisconsin, which had 36% of residents considered binge drinkers, while Madison County, Idaho noted only 6% binge drinkers. Alameda County saw a more moderate increase in heavy drinking, reporting an increase of 7.7% from 2002 to 2012. However, Contra Costa County actually had a decrease in heavy drinking, dropping half a percent over the same decade. Both areas witnessed an increase in binge drinking, up 14.7% in Alameda and 9.0% in Contra Costa, with greater rises among women than men. Statewide, the number was 8.1%.
There are number of possible reasons for the rise in binge and heavy drinking. Young people in tech jobs may be more likely to spend time drinking. Additionally, social norms for women drinking have changed over the years, according to the study. An author of the study, Ali Mokdad noted, “it seems like women are trying to catch up to the men in binge drinking. It's really, really scary.”
Whether a regular drinker or a one-time binger, an arrest for driving under the influence in California can be a terrifying experience. At the Gorelick Law Offices, attorney Lynn Gorelick has dedicated her legal career to defending people facing DUI charges in the East Bay. With more than 30 years of DUI and criminal defense experience, Lynn Gorelick understands the local DUI laws, and will make sure your rights are protected. If you are facing a DUI, contact the local East Bay DUI defense attorney who understands that an arrest does not have to lead to a conviction.