But there's no sex-fueled crime spree
January 20, 2012 11:57 AM   Subscribe

Confessions of a Binge Drinker : "If, as the CDC suggests in a new report, binge drinking leads to violence, spread of sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy, and risky behavior, then why am I doing just fine?"

It began at dinner with a group of friends in a popular restaurant. What followed was a series of wines paired to dishes, including some rather unusual wine selections by our very talented sommelier. I became a bit tipsy but, after nearly four hours, delightful conversation, and an amazing meal, what I felt most was satiated.

...

But during my binge drinking session I didn't start a fight. I didn't engage in unprotected sex or infect anyone with a sexually transmitted disease. I didn't worry about becoming dependent on alcohol, crashing my car, or suicide. I didn't engage in crime. I just had a great time and then went to sleep.
posted by modernnomad (100 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
We, as a culture, set the rules. When they're broken it's not solely the fault of a drink or even five. It's the underlying message accompanying the way that we drink. That's something I believe we can change by recognizing drinking as a meaningful activity and by addressing problem drinking, which involves a more complete assessment, with culturally relevant programs and not with fruitless pleas to "drink less."

I would like to suggest the author, despite his own self-identification, is probably not a binge drinker as per the statistical norm. He was drinking wine at dinner, not downing pints in a rowdy pub.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:01 PM on January 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


What? Look, I get his muddied point about the CDC, but unless he was doing keg stands while his sommelier held him upside down, he knows perfectly well what binge drinking is. Yes, he's correct when he kinda sorta implies that setting matters more- that when people set out to "get crazy", obviously the alcohol is just giving them license to unleash their inhibitions. But man, that article went nowhere with his point.
posted by hincandenza at 12:03 PM on January 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Author is a bartender and co-owner of two bars. Some conflict of interest going on there, then?
posted by stinkycheese at 12:03 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was going to say "I bet this guy's from Wisconsin," but, wine.
posted by desjardins at 12:03 PM on January 20, 2012 [9 favorites]


then why am I doing just fine

Models that predict outcomes for populations don't work as well on individuals.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:04 PM on January 20, 2012 [53 favorites]


I've often wondered about the bizarre definitions of binge drinking that health agencies use. What is "a short period of time," for example?

Similarly, I think I've seen the definition given as something like: "Having 5 or more drinks in a single session." What defines a session? If I'm at the cabin with friends and I go through an entire case of beer, but do so over the course of an entire day, is that "one session" (assuming that I didn't really stop drinking, but also wasn't drinking so quickly that I ever got more than a little bit tipsy)?

Binge drinking can be and is a problem, but the way that it's defined is problematic.
posted by asnider at 12:04 PM on January 20, 2012


Today in obvious news: when generalizing about samples where n=1 all sorts of whacky things can be derived!
posted by Matt Oneiros at 12:05 PM on January 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


I think the whole point here is that this new medically accepted definition of 5 drinks "on one occasion" (and it's even 4 for women IIRC) as "binge drinking" is ridiculous. Like, maybe if you weigh 80 pounds.
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:05 PM on January 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


Swell anecdote. I would venture to say the issue is not that people who drink in manners such as yourself are increasing. It is situations where people get smashed and start fights at clubs are increasing. (are they increasing? I'm just assuming so to be honest)
posted by jjmoney at 12:05 PM on January 20, 2012


This is a little thin -- op-eds in which the author identifies themself as a member of a statistical group and then goes on to suggest that because they don't share all traits associated with that group, the associations are spurious, are just not very convincing. He's refuting the argument that anyone who drinks a lot will do everything that people are more likely to do while drunk, which is a complete strawman.

In a sense, it doesn't matter why, say, Americans are more likely to be violent and reckless when drunk -- that we are is an established statistical fact, it seems. Just because the potential exists for things to be different doesn't make it so.
posted by clockzero at 12:07 PM on January 20, 2012


What defines a session?

For me, a new session started when I came to. That's part of the reason I don't drink anymore.
posted by marxchivist at 12:07 PM on January 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


If he weighs around 180 (obvs I have no idea), according to this his BAC was .08, not legal to drive (he took a taxi).
posted by desjardins at 12:07 PM on January 20, 2012


Yeah, no sex-fueled crime sprees but I can assure you that this man has woken up to the unintended purchase of a $5,000.00 top hat.
posted by griphus at 12:07 PM on January 20, 2012 [21 favorites]


I think I've seen the definition given as something like: "Having 5 or more drinks in a single session."

Helpful tip: If you put them all in one big jug, it's technically only ONE drink!
posted by Greg Nog at 12:07 PM on January 20, 2012 [16 favorites]


Huh, according to that calculator I can have 5 beers in 3 hours and still be legal to drive (I'm 100 lbs). That seems like a lot.
posted by desjardins at 12:09 PM on January 20, 2012


"If, as the CDC suggests in a new report, binge drinking leads to violence, spread of sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy, and risky behavior, then why am I doing just fine?"

This makes me want to channel Andrew Weil, when he talks about the problem of correlation and causation w/r/t to weed and laziness. If you are a lazy person and you smoke weed, then you will be lazy when you smoke weed, i.e. it isn't the weed that makes you lazy, you're just lazy. Similarly, if you are a violent person predisposed to engage in risky behavior, than binge drinking is going to serve you in that purpose. But certainly you can have five beers without going into a violent, sex-crazed rampage.

Also, seven glasses of wine over four hours during a meal with friends, CDC be damned, doesn't seem like dangerous binge drinking, no. Maybe if it was a nightly event. The only danger I would have seen is if he would have driven, which he didn't.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:10 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Helpful tip: If you put them all in one big jug, it's technically only ONE drink!

"I didn't know as I raised that cup/It had taken two bottles to fill the thing up."
posted by griphus at 12:10 PM on January 20, 2012


Back when I was a lad we called binge drinking "A night out at the pub". And we did fine. I'm still doing fine. I'm 52, in good health, and I'm keeping a list of every tiresome, holier-than-thou, finger-wagging bore of around my age who dies before I do. There have been a few so far. And I drink a shitload every time it happens, and will continue to do so. Good bloody riddance, bore.


What has happened is that society has managed to turn many of us into steaming great nancies, endlessly fretting about our health instead of drinking to it.
posted by Decani at 12:12 PM on January 20, 2012 [28 favorites]


Ah! Here's a thing Malcolm Gladwell wrote about Dwight Heath, the author mentioned in the article, and his experiences drinking with the Camba. I think it was linked on mefi a couple years back.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:13 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


'They say growing up in the ghetto and being a minority predisposes you to poverty. So what about this guy over here who grew up in the ghetto and is a minority and yet is now rich? They are obviously full of crap about all that societal-factors-cause-poverty nonsense.'
posted by koeselitz at 12:14 PM on January 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


This person needs a quick lesson in the concept of risk.
posted by docgonzo at 12:15 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I keep binge drinking, but try as I might, no unprotected sex ever seems to come my way.

(I keed, I keed. Alcohol abuse is a serious social problem. One which buddy here doesn't seem to be helping.)
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:15 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


binge drinking leads to violence, spread of sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy, and risky behavior

Some people have a drinking problem. Some people have an asshole problem.

Unfortunately, an awful lot of the latter group are also members of the former.

- Michael, (happily) a happy drunk
posted by coolguymichael at 12:15 PM on January 20, 2012


The obvious solution is to clone 30 of the man and run them through the Aperture Science Sever Inebriation Testing, Response, and Excitation Protocols.

For statistical concerns, of course.
posted by Slackermagee at 12:15 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


People who hold their alcohol well and don't screw up a good thing make others who can't believe they can too. Excessive booze messing up people's lives is more the norm.
posted by dgran at 12:16 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


As a rule of thumb, I stop drinking when I *start* to lose the ability to appreciate the taste of whatever I'm drinking.

This may not work for 18 year old freshmen, though.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:16 PM on January 20, 2012


Most people, regardless of weight, can drink a beer every 40 minutes or so all day long and never get drunk, because that's how long it takes most people to metabolize the alcohol in a beer.
posted by localroger at 12:16 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Alcohol's not a drug. It's a drink.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:18 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Excessive booze messing up people's lives is more the norm.

This pisses me off. I've lived in a culture where drinking promotes social harmony, and there is a beer vending machine on every corner. I come back to Canada, and the "government" liquir store is closed on Sundays for some strange reason, and private liquor stores have to fight to get product from the government wholesaler at decent prices. Why? Because when people drink in Canada they like to fight.

I want the finest wines available to humanity. And I want ... some booze. I demand to have some booze!
posted by KokuRyu at 12:19 PM on January 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


Anthropologist Kate Fox argues that promiscuity, violence, etc have more to do with societal perspectives toward drinking.

Basically, "ambivalent" cultures use drunkenness as an excuse to act out but "integrated" drinking cultures do not.

Not sure I totally agree but she has a good argument.
posted by mr.ersatz at 12:21 PM on January 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Binge drinking is more of a you know what it is when you see it sort of thing. You know, kinda like pornography.

Generally, it's something that older people who consider themselves cultured, simply don't partake in while in public. And anybody who chooses to do so, against the best advice of said cultured older peoples, is basically getting what they deserve. (That would be both binge drinking and pornography.)

Unfortunately, this clearly defined definition does not read quite so well when trying to publish laws and/or insurance stipulations.
posted by Blue_Villain at 12:22 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


What the hell is this? Why do we still have to explain to people how statistics work?
posted by clvrmnky at 12:22 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Alcohol's not a drug. It's a drink.

Tell that to my pre-diabetes, which will drop the pre- within a week or two if I don't drink a few glasses of wine each evening. (That didn't happen before I stupidly took the dexamethasones I was stupidly prescribed by a doctor who promised they wouldn't make diabetes worse.)

So yeah, alcohol is both a drug and a drink. It's also one that makes me feel more sleepy than violent when I take too much. And yeah, that's cultural, because if it wasn't Japan would look like the set of 28 Days Later.
posted by localroger at 12:26 PM on January 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


he might still be unwanted pregnant, we won't know until he gets his period, BAD ARTICLE
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:26 PM on January 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


If smoking kills all of these people, why am I feeling fine?

"Anecdata" is too polite. This is deeply flawed, self-serving moron logic.
posted by Dark Messiah at 12:27 PM on January 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


If he really thinks binge drinking doesn't make for problems, I would like to invite him to Candlestick park this Sunday.
posted by rtha at 12:28 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Generally, it's something that older people who consider themselves cultured, simply don't partake in while in public. And anybody who chooses to do so, against the best advice of said cultured older peoples, is basically getting what they deserve. (That would be both binge drinking and pornography.)

From what I understand, binging is a very real social problem in the UK, and the practice of binge drinking is increasing here. To say that people get what they deserve kind of ignores tha this widespread practice has some very negative social consequences. There are ought to be more done to combat the problem. But, then again, I guess Britain is fucked for the next few years, so why not go out and drink and fuck until you vomit?
posted by KokuRyu at 12:28 PM on January 20, 2012


I come back to Canada, and the "government" liquir store is closed on Sundays for some strange reason [...] Why? Because when people drink in Canada they like to fight.

You should have seen the look on the Funeral Director's face when we asked about the possibility of having wine available at my Dad's visitation. Never in the history of mankind had anyone ever asked something so outrageous, so horrifying...

Personally, yeah -- I could have used a drink. And I'm sure others could have, too. But there would have been instant rioting, no doubt. Would have turned a civil visitation into fucking Thunderdome.

posted by Capt. Renault at 12:28 PM on January 20, 2012


Anthropologist Kate Fox argues that promiscuity, violence, etc have more to do with societal perspectives toward drinking.

Anthropologist Kate Fox's organization is sponsored by brewers and pubs.
posted by grouse at 12:29 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


fucking Thunderdome

Two men enter ... ?
posted by uncleozzy at 12:31 PM on January 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't think I have ever been to a funeral where there wasn't at least wine, usually also cold beer, and in several cases a full open bar. But this is in New Orleans.
posted by localroger at 12:32 PM on January 20, 2012


Two men enter ... ?

I'm pretty sure I could have taken him.

posted by Capt. Renault at 12:34 PM on January 20, 2012


Some conflict of interest going on there, then?

Yes. The guy's entire life revolves around selling alcohol to people. He's a walking PR machine for the alcohol industry. If there's anything honest to say about binge drinking, it isn't going to come from him.
posted by pracowity at 12:34 PM on January 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


The real question is if you feel fine, then why are you binge drinking?
posted by P.o.B. at 12:34 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think his real point is that the CDC's definition of binge drinking is a bit broad, which seems quite reasonable.
posted by localroger at 12:35 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


If there's a point to this idiotic treatise of self-congratulatory bullshit I'm not seeing it.

A better and briefer sentiment is that alcoholism is underrecognized in society, as in people who drink too much on a regular basis in order to self-medicate. Those same people often corrode the health and well-being of people around them and won't acknowledge it.

Because they drink too much.
posted by docpops at 12:35 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


"No thanks, one's my limit!"
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:38 PM on January 20, 2012


Since Mr. Brown is writing for The Atlantic, I'd love to hook him up with fellow Atlantic-ite Caitlin Flanagan. I think they'd really hit it off. Also, given his avocation, maybe describing Mr. Brown as lying "on the board of directors for the Museum of the American Cocktail" would be more accurate.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:39 PM on January 20, 2012


I don't think I have ever been to a funeral where there wasn't at least wine, usually also cold beer, and in several cases a full open bar. But this is in New Orleans.

The first time I ever saw an entire bathtub full of beer and wine bottles on ice was at my grandfather's funeral when I was 10 or 12 or so. That was in Toronto.

But, on the subject of draconian Canadian liquor laws, one of the oldest theaters here in Vancouver, which has been trying to get a liquor license for awhile, has finally been granted one ... oh, and informed at the same time that they can no longer show movies. Such bullshit.
posted by mannequito at 12:41 PM on January 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't care if it's all in my head—I'm very pleased that I can get an enjoyable buzz from 1 to 2 drinks in an evening. On the other hand, I just can't imagine "enjoying" 7 drinks in an evening.
posted by jepler at 12:41 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


What has happened is that society has managed to turn many of us into steaming great nancies, endlessly fretting about our health instead of drinking to it.

"And get off my lawn!"
posted by kmz at 12:43 PM on January 20, 2012


if you feel fine, then why are you binge drinking?

Because constantly being seriously drunk has a downside.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 12:48 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Five glasses of wine isn't binge drinking. A whole bottle of wine is about half a pint of vodka. It's not really that much.

But chugging an entire fifth or handle of Jack Daniels right at the start of the party certainly is, especially when you follow it up with jello shots, jager shots, beer and whatever else they can get their hands on.

Man, that kid sucked so much. 3 minutes later and he's a blind, raging animal trying to fight and/or fuck everyone at the party. He set off multiple fire extinguishers, then tried to light things on fire after using all the extinguishers, did a stage dive into a mobile DJ rig and totally fucking it up, put multiple holes in walls and peed on more than one person like they were a tree, managed to cut themselves and spew blood everywhere.

The carnage didn't even stop or slow down after they passed out and stopped moving because they shit and pissed themselves on a couch and eventually began puking an alarming quantity of partially digested Taco Bell that they power-loaded before the party in an erroneous attempt to soak up the booze and enable said binge drinking.

Yeah, buddy, of course you're fine on your little wine bender. You're so hardcore!

Get back to me when you drink enough to black out but still walk and you end up in an alley wearing one shoe and no pants smoking crack with a street hooker after having lost your car somewhere and unexplainable facial injuries.
posted by loquacious at 12:52 PM on January 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


Back when I was a lad we called binge drinking "A night out at the pub". And we did fine. I'm still doing fine. I'm 52, in good health, and I'm keeping a list of every tiresome, holier-than-thou, finger-wagging bore of around my age who dies before I do. There have been a few so far. And I drink a shitload every time it happens, and will continue to do so. Good bloody riddance, bore.

Missing datapoint: The Dark Side of the Force artificially prolongs life at great spiritual cost.
posted by loquacious at 12:57 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think his real point is that the CDC's definition of binge drinking is a bit broad, which seems quite reasonable.

They say it's "men drinking 5 or more alcoholic drinks within a short period of time or women drinking 4 or more drinks within a short period of time."

To me, that sounds pretty much like a good lower limit on something you might call a "binge". A guy sitting down at a bar and knocking back 5+ beers one after another is not casually having a drink, he's getting himself drunk. Maybe if they put an exact time on it instead of "a short period of time" you wouldn't have a problem with it? I was thinking of "a short period of time" as something like a couple of hours, not an all-day marathon with meal breaks and a nap.

What would be your definition of binge drinking?
posted by pracowity at 12:57 PM on January 20, 2012


There have been a few so far. And I drink a shitload every time it happens, and will continue to do so. Good bloody riddance, bore.

Don't take my word for it, but I've devoted a lot of time to drinking and I'm here to tell you that you needn't be sober to be a bore.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:59 PM on January 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


then why am I doing just fine

Models that predict outcomes for populations don't work as well on individuals.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:04 PM on January 20 [16 favorites +] [!]


Also, the guy may be a bit of an outlier, both in terms of frequency of binge drinking, that he eats concurrent with his drinking and that he's not out punching people in the face and wrecking his car.

This is akin to a big tobacco exec saying, "I've thrown a few lit cigarettes into the woods, and I've never been the cause of a forest fire. Why should we tell people to stop tossing lit cigarettes around?"
posted by bilabial at 1:03 PM on January 20, 2012


The article strikes me as not very thoughtful, but my personal experience is that alcohol and perhaps more importantly drinking cultures are so different from person to person. The CDC is trying to define and create barriers around the kind of drinking that ends up with dead teenagers in flipped-over cars and college kids falling into ditches and freezing to death, but obviously that behavior (oh so insightful of you to point that out, Author!) that the CDC has chosen to label as "binge drinking" doesn't affect everyone in the same way.

So now what? Do we label people who do a certain kind of drinking "binge drinkers" in the hopes that they take a look at their lives and say "wow, I think I have a problem, I need to get information and assistance" (which is what I think the CDC is trying to accomplish)? Do we call for a redefinition, and if so, what should that redefinition entail? Saying "I can drink this much, and I'm fine!" doesn't help. I don't really know what the author was trying to add to the conversation with this.
posted by koucha at 1:07 PM on January 20, 2012


"From what I understand, binging is a very real social problem ..."

But it can't be a very real anything if you can't even accurately define what it is.
posted by Blue_Villain at 1:08 PM on January 20, 2012


Maybe if they put an exact time on it instead of "a short period of time" you wouldn't have a problem with it?

Well yes, because the way it's stated is completely useless, which is especially stupid coming from an organization like the CDC which is supposed to know how to quantify things.

I would define binge drinking as drinking enough to cause hangover effects, which means you are impacting your health because you are not metabolizing acetaldehyde as fast as you're making it, but also as drinking any amount which is enough to trigger antisocial behavior, since some people take a modest buzz as an excuse to let loose.
posted by localroger at 1:08 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Because constantly being seriously drunk has a downside.

I'mmm... glad we agree... ?
posted by P.o.B. at 1:10 PM on January 20, 2012


A whole bottle of wine is about half a pint of vodka. It's not really that much.

For some people, it is. I drink, but I'm smallish, and don't have a hell of a lot of tolerance. If I drink a cup of vodka, I'm probably going to puke. Same for a whole bottle of wine. Seven glasses of wine and a scotch would put me in the friggin' ER, dinner or no.

In addition to muddling his point (which appears to be that you can binge drink and be a gentleman about it?), Brown gets into some serious class-based bullshit. "Oh, I'm not like those rowdy sports-fan types, I'm drinking these seven glasses of fine, sommelier-recommended wine at a restaurant. Tut tut, no hooligans or drinking problems, here!"
posted by evidenceofabsence at 1:14 PM on January 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


He needs to join the Anecdata Club; he could be sponsored by the 86-year-old who's been smoking two packs per day since Dub-Dub-Deuce, or the person who has unprotected sex with literally anything that moves (including trash blowing by on the street). They're well known for their annual lawn darts tournament.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:15 PM on January 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


To quote a great American philosopher, "The bottle ain't to blame and I ain't tryin' to, cuz it don't make you do a thing, it just lets you."
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:15 PM on January 20, 2012


Well yes, because the way it's stated is completely useless, which is especially stupid coming from an organization like the CDC which is supposed to know how to quantify things.

Yeah, I don't really see why everyone is jumping on this guy. He's not trying to argue that binge drinking doesn't exist. Neither is he arguing that he's totally hardcore because he drank five glasses of wine in an evening. Rather, his point is that the CDC's definition of binge drinking is uselessly overbroad, precisely because its vague, excessively conservative criteria apply to his own activities, which no reasonable person would call "binge drinking".

As far as I read the article, it was a pretty sensible call to come up with a more useful definition of "binge drinking" that doesn't accidentally pull in the upper end of normal behavior just by being vague about it.
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:15 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


since Dub-Dub-Deuce

You better believe that I am stealing that.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 1:17 PM on January 20, 2012


Since the CDC couldn't be arsed to define "a short period of time" I've done my public service by looking it up in the manual for the microcontroller I'm currently programming. A "short period of time" is 12.5 nanoseconds. That should clear that right up.
posted by localroger at 1:19 PM on January 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


I prefer "dubya dubya eye eye".
posted by P.o.B. at 1:21 PM on January 20, 2012


As a (former) binge drinker, I can assure you that 2 glasses of wine per hour is not binge drinking. For me, binge drinking was 3-4 Redbull & Vodkas per hour, for 4 hours straight, or until I was basically black out drunk. Binge drinking was drinking until I puked and then going right back to drinking.

I didn't do this often (even at my worst it was once a month or so), but it wasn't a pretty sight when I did.

Drinking 5 glasses of wine for dinner would have been taking it slow for me.
posted by empath at 1:27 PM on January 20, 2012


A more exact definition from the CDC:
What is binge drinking?
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism binge drinking is defined as a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level to 0.08% or more. This pattern of drinking usually corresponds to 5 or more drinks on a single occasion for men or 4 or more drinks on a single occasion for women, generally within about 2 hours.3

[snip]

National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. NIAAA council approves definition of binge drinking [PDF–1.6Mb] NIAAA Newsletter 2004;3:3.
posted by pracowity at 1:32 PM on January 20, 2012


(on preview, ctrl-a, delete)

Thanks pracowity. I bet he wouldn't have written that piece if he'd bothered to look up that definition.

At 5 drinks, I think most people would be well served to look at their situation and check to be sure they're still good. At 5 drinks within 2 hours, definitely a good time to be checking yourself.

So says this CDC defined Binge Drinker.
posted by jermsplan at 1:39 PM on January 20, 2012


Dub-Dub-Deuce played what was said to be an awesome show a few years ago at The Anecdata Club on their Annual Lawn Darts Tournament tour. I was there, but I was binge drinking at the time so I can't speak to it's awesomeness first-hand. I'd had nearly 6 drinks that night!

Seriously though - I think most of us know that binge drinking can be a huge problem and that it doesn't always (or even usually) lead to crazy sex fights that end in suicidally crashing your car. For me it almost always ended in getting nothing done in my garage where I was working on a 'project' alone for hours on end.

I didn't like the tone or the framing of this at all, but there are good points made. The attitudes of binge drinking and drinking/drugs in general are widely varied and often way off the mark. Their low end of a binge used to be the first 10 minutes for me - not that that's great - but for some people 5 drinks is a night of "not drinking" and for some it's more than they ever have in a "session."
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 1:47 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I started to mention BAC but felt the hangover was a clearer sign something is wrong. No way is getting to .08 BAC binge drinking. That is saying that drinking enough to need a designated driver is binge drinking. Anyone who agrees with that is an idiot.

I suspect there is politics at play here, possibly not wanting to piss off the ever temperance society leaning MADD. Really, "a short period of time" was probably put in to be deliberately vague so as to not look really stupid by saying .08 (which for me is three beers in an hour) is a binge.
posted by localroger at 1:48 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


So the CDC's definition of binge drinking is a BAC that is lower than the legal limit in several states? And y'all are mad at this guy for suggesting that's not a helpful definition?
posted by danny the boy at 1:52 PM on January 20, 2012


The general point of this short anecdotal piece was more fully explored in a BBC article from October (posted here previously):
There is enormous cross-cultural variation in the way people behave when they drink alcohol. There are some societies (such as the UK, the US, Australia and parts of Scandinavia) that anthropologists call "ambivalent" drinking-cultures, where drinking is associated with disinhibition, aggression, promiscuity, violence and anti-social behaviour.

and:
Our beliefs about the effects of alcohol act as self-fulfilling prophecies - if you firmly believe and expect that booze will make you aggressive, then it will do exactly that. In fact, you will be able to get roaring drunk on a non-alcoholic placebo.

And our erroneous beliefs provide the perfect excuse for anti-social behaviour. If alcohol "causes" bad behaviour, then you are not responsible for your bad behaviour. You can blame the booze - "it was the drink talking", "I was not myself" and so on.

This rings true to me.
posted by james.c.macaulay at 1:57 PM on January 20, 2012


And y'all are mad at this guy for suggesting that's not a helpful definition?

The mad people here seem mainly to be the ones who are with him, not against him. Mad because the government defined them as binge drinkers? I don't know.
posted by pracowity at 2:02 PM on January 20, 2012


As a (former) binge drinker, I can assure you that 2 glasses of wine per hour is not binge drinking. For me, binge drinking was 3-4 Redbull & Vodkas per hour, for 4 hours straight, or until I was basically black out drunk.

That seems a little extreme for a basic definition, but it raises a good point. Perhaps we can change the definition of binge drinking to be 5 or more drinks over a short period of time, wherein at least one of the drinks contains Jaeger or Red Bull. Anyone who drinks like that knows exactly what they're getting into.
posted by rkent at 2:12 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


4 drinks is a party. And by party I mean a social gathering with grandma and aunt Ruth. Defintitely a bit of a buzz. *hicks*

The one or three times I was what I would call binging, was more like 10+ drinks a night at bachelorette parties and the like. Very ungood indeed. *barf* *blackout*

Really why would you do that more often than every crazy 5 years or so?

caveat: antisocial and European
posted by ZeroAmbition at 2:20 PM on January 20, 2012


griphus: "Yeah, no sex-fueled crime sprees but I can assure you that this man has woken up to the unintended purchase of a $5,000.00 top hat."

Or 13 tickets to a live stage show of a children's program.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 2:21 PM on January 20, 2012


The real question is if you feel fine, then why are you binge drinking?

Probably because he enjoys drinking and even getting drunk.

I assume you are implying that the consumption of alcohol always indicates a desire to escape or hide from problems, or to medicate pain. Don't assume that, because it is not true.
posted by General Tonic at 2:32 PM on January 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


As my Ukrainian friend used to toast at the bar…
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 2:36 PM on January 20, 2012


I decided to run my own experiment with this as well last night- hopefully no STDs (I'll let you know in 3 months), no arrest record, and my car is fine. However some interesting find - Taco Bell is fuckin delicious at 3am, your stomach gets all rumblely the next day, and you're head pulses. I think someone should report these very troubling finding to the CDC as well.
posted by lpcxa0 at 3:42 PM on January 20, 2012


I've accepted the fact that when I visit my friends back in the states that I shouldn't drink like I normally do here in Japan. By CDC definition, the standard Japanese drinker is a binge drinker. Session? What is that? You go out with your friends. You order a drink. Your drink is gone. You order another, and continue. I will admit that, coming here post college age, I had to learn that a night of drinking mixed drinks like that was a recipe for disaster, but my wife is half my size, and matches me drink for drink. We will sit at an izakaya for two or three hours, talking, eating, and drinking the whole time.

When I visit my friends back home, I make a conscious effort to match their pace in drinking, which I find painfully slow and unfortunately brief. The one time I didn't, a friends wife actually asked me if I was sure I needed a second beer at dinner.

This is not to say binge drinking isn't a problem in the UK and the US. The power consumption of as much as possible to get drunk immediately is dangerous, and maybe not demonizing booze might, y'know, help relax the culture.

It's funny. I'd love to have the breadth and depth of beer in America available to me, but at the same time, I don't like drinking in the States anymore. Either there'll be some bro getting obnoxiously drunk, or someone I've never even met looking askance at me for my drinking.

And no, I'm not a regular drinker. I go out a couple times a month, and during the week, rarely drink at all. And I hate that I automatically have to mention that whenever discussions of drinking come up.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:52 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think that's a really good point, james.c.macaulay. The expectations your culture bring into drinking do seem to be paramount. And beyond that, everyone's relationship with alcohol is different, so it's not surprising that any definitions about problematic behavior isn't going to be easy to quantify.

I only drink when I'm happy. If I'm not drinking, it's because I'm upset or something is wrong.

I sort of feel like an alcohol fueled robot...
posted by danny the boy at 3:55 PM on January 20, 2012


I don't like drinking in the States anymore. Either there'll be some bro getting obnoxiously drunk, or someone I've never even met looking askance at me for my drinking.

I don't think this is universally true at all in American culture. At least in my experiences in Boston and New York. We drink pretty often and talk about drinking when we're not drinking.
posted by sweetkid at 4:09 PM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


At least in my experiences in Boston and New York. We drink pretty often and talk about drinking when we're not drinking.

Quoted for truth.
posted by ob at 4:12 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's a good point, and I don't have drinking experience in Boston or NYC. Chicago, and the Midwest mostly. And, of course, the insanity that is Hawaii, where the tourist culture plays to drinking (booze cruises, ridiculous drink deals), but the laws are there to smack your hand and tell you 'no, bad dog.' No drinking on beaches, parks, or any public space. Stiff fines. And yes, I realize that if Hawaii allowed drinking on the beach, it would be a nightmare, with drunk Americans getting hostile, trashing the place. Different drinking culture, different results. All I know is that sitting on the beach in the summer as the sun sets, enjoying a cold beer is some kind of perfection.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:28 PM on January 20, 2012


All I know is that sitting on the beach in the summer as the sun sets, enjoying a cold beer is some kind of perfection.

yep, agreed. I feel like, in my own experience anyways, it's a case of the minority ruining it for the masses. The vast majority of experiences I've had around people drinking in public here has been harmless and positively fun, but if you get one or two bros getting wasted at the beach, there's a very real concern for how their behavior will affect the experience of others. Broken glass, other litter, sexual harassment, fighting, etc etc.

One of my favorite things from living in Europe and having the freedom to drink publicly was my personal 'low-energy' time of day, which is early afternoon. As I would often be out running boring day-time errands, it helped immensely to be able to pop into a corner store and pick up a bottle of beer, and sip it as I cruised around the city. I wasn't getting drunk, was barely even feeling a buzz, but it would serve to perk me up and give me energy throughout the afternoon. It frustrates me to no end that here, I'm allowed to sip on a soda (which I hate) or coffee to serve the same function, but I could be ticketed for having a beer anywhere outdoors. Especially since I try to spend as much time outdoors as possible.
posted by mannequito at 4:39 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


We drink pretty often and talk about drinking when we're not drinking.

This is also true of San Francisco, in my experience. We even had that whisky-tasting meetup a while back.

But I also don't do much drinking in sports or college-type bars, because I don't like the kind of behavior that that kind of drinking seems to encourage/allow.
posted by rtha at 4:59 PM on January 20, 2012


Binge drinking - that's about a pint or so in American terms, isn't it?
posted by Artw at 5:02 PM on January 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Pint of Everclear!

*passes out*
posted by rtha at 5:52 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


CDC: "binge drinking is defined as a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level to 0.08% or more. "

in other words... binge drinking = anything that gets you drunk.

Well why in God's green earth didn't they just say so.

Drinking is fine, getting drunk isn't. Sheesh, that was uncharacteristically easy.
posted by Blue_Villain at 6:57 PM on January 20, 2012


All I know is that sitting on the beach in the summer as the sun sets, enjoying a cold beer is some kind of perfection.

It's spring in Japan. The temperature is agreeable. It's been a long day. You have a hot bath (the kind that turns your body pink). You towel off, put on some crisp, dry pajamas. And crack open a cold, cold beer. Now that is perfection.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:27 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's a good point, and I don't have drinking experience in Boston or NYC. Chicago, and the Midwest mostly.
In my experience, the drinking culture of the Midwest (and particularly, of Wisconsin) is pretty different from the drinking culture just about anywhere else. Then again, like I said, I'm a three-drink drunk. Or as they call it in Wisconsin, "a teetotaler."
posted by evidenceofabsence at 9:07 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also worth noting is that to public health types, a 'drink' is a bottle of beer or a small glass of wine or a single shot of liquor. So by their definition, you're in binge territory after 3 pints.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 10:25 PM on January 20, 2012


If he really thinks binge drinking doesn't make for problems, I would like to invite him to Candlestick park this Sunday listen to Nickelback.
posted by wallabear at 10:39 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Helpful tip: If you put them all in one big jug, it's technically only ONE drink!

I heard a story from a cop who pulled someone over and asked if they'd been drinking. They looked over at a big gulp full of ice and scotch and said "technically officer only one drink". The cop said he couldn't help but laugh.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:11 PM on January 20, 2012


The UK calculates it differently:
What is binge drinking?
BD refers to the consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol within a limited time period. Such behaviour leads to a rapid increase in blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and consequently to drunkenness. Definitions of BD vary: a commonly used definition is the consumption of twice
the daily benchmark given in the Government’s guidelines (Box 1). Figures in this paper are based on this definition. BD is predominantly seen in those aged 16−24, but it may also extend to those in their 30s. Problems associated with BD are most visible at weekends in urban areas and are responsible for a large fraction of the policing resources and Accident and Emergency (A&E) department attendances at these times.

Box 1 Units and recommended intakes
The strength of an alcoholic drink is indicated by the percentage of alcohol by volume (ABV). A unit corresponds to approximately 8 g (or 10 ml) of pure alcohol, regardless of the amount of liquid in which it is diluted. For instance, half a pint of beer (ABV 3.5%) or a small glass of wine (ABV 12−14%) is the equivalent of 1 unit.
Guidelines issued by the Department of Health (DH) in 1995 recommend a maximum daily alcohol intake of 3−4 and 2−3 units for men and women, respectively. Any occasion on which a person drinks more than the daily recommended limit should be followed by 48 alcohol-free hours.
So 3 to 4 units ("equivalent to a pint and a half of 4% beer") for men is the recommended daily maximum and twice that ("about three pints of strong beer") is binge drinking.
posted by pracowity at 12:42 AM on January 21, 2012


A long time ago I worked at a vegetable cannery (in Wisconsin, for context), and lived in the migrant camp with the folks who drove up every year from the Tex/Mex border area to work the harvest. One of the more interesting of the residents we called "Bender Bob." Bob was about 35 years old, had been a family man but lost his entire family in a car crash from which he was the only survivor. He was ordinarily a conscientious worker, showed up every day for his shift, until payday came along. When Bob got his paycheck he would convert it into cash and go on a "bender" for multiple days until all the money was gone. He would show up afterwards usually quite battered, covered in blood, puke, piss, shit, you name ii, sleep it off in in the corner of the bunkhouse, and then limp back to work. What was amazing was how everyone treated it as :that is just what someone who has been through major tragedy in life does." Getting absolutely shitfaced every two weeks like clockwork was just Bob's method for coping with his lot in life, sort of psychiatric services in a bottle. Now THAT is binge drinking!
posted by ackptui at 6:55 AM on January 21, 2012


Obviously the solution is to always have had slightly less than two drinks.
posted by HumuloneRanger at 9:29 PM on January 21, 2012


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