St. Patrick’s Day has evolved from its Irish-Catholic roots of observing the country’s patron saint into one of the biggest global parties of the year. In fact, few countries celebrate as hard as we do right here in the U.S.A. But have we taken the good-natured celebration too far in another direction with the dangers of binge drinking?
Dangers of Binge Drinking
A Costly Celebration
An estimated 133 million people were expected to join the holiday celebrations this year, and St. Patrick’s Day spending overall was predicted to grow to $4.8 billion in the United States. Wondering how that much money is spent on a non gift-giving holiday? As you probably guessed, alcohol is a main contributor. In 2012, it was estimated that beer brewers alone took in $245 million in St. Patrick’s Day sales. That means 1% of all annual U.S. beer sales came from just this one day.
The dollar amounts are staggering, but they aren’t the only St. Patrick’s Day numbers that should give you cause for pause. On Saturday, March 8, police made 73 arrests after converging on a crowd of more than 4,000 students partying in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day at UMass Amherst. Despite the best efforts of schools to proactively combat the heavy drinking associated with this holiday, like scheduling spring breaks that overlap with it or paying local bars not to serve alcohol on the day, college communities continue to struggle with the chaos of mid-March festivities.
The Dangers of Binge Drinking
College campuses may seem like the epicenter and St. Patrick’s Day may be the pinnacle, but binge drinking in America is far from an isolated problem. In fact, it occurs at a higher rate in the United States than anywhere else in the world. “About 50% of all the alcohol consumed by adults, and about 90% of all the alcohol consumed by young people is consumed during a binge drinking session,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The dangers associated with binge drinking don’t stop with civil consequences affecting society as a whole, like increased crime and car accidents. Drinking takes a serious toll on every person’s body, too. The liver, which is responsible for metabolizing about 95% of alcohol, can only process about one drink per hour. Aside from the inherent risk it places on your internal organs, binge drinking can ultimately lead to brain damage and even death. According to the CDC, about half of the 85,000 deaths a year connected to alcohol abuse are related to binge drinking. Some studies have even linked binge drinking at an early age with the development of alcohol addiction down the road.
Safely Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day
Despite the dangers that can come from excessive alcohol intake, St. Patrick’s Day is still a wonderful celebration that can be enjoyed by everyone, whether or not you’re interested in having a few adult beverages. The key is to understand the risks that are present so you are able to safely avoid them. We hope you were able to enjoy a safe and happy St. Patrick’s Day! And remember, if you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse, call The Watershed now at 1-800-861-1768.