Dear Kid,

The USA Today section of today’s paper highlights problems with excessive drinking. This is not exactly news, but they have Facts and you know how I love a good fact now and then. (Note: USA Today got their facts from the CDC, so I’m pretty confident in their findings.)

Here’s the most shocking one (imho): 1 in 10 working age adults will die from excessive drinking. Since you are either in or approaching Working Adult Age, this should be pretty important to you.

Between 2006 and 2010 (not a particularly long time), 88,000 people (a particularly large number) died from alcohol use. That’s the size of a medium sized city. That’s approximately 5 times the student population at Ohio University. It’s twice the undergrad population at The Ohio State University. It’s more than all the Ivy League schools put together.

In other words, this hits A Lot of People.

Excessive alcohol use includes binge drinking, heavy weekly drinking, underage consumption, and drinking while pregnant.

Let us discuss.

Drinking while pregnant means, well, drinking while pregnant. According to many doctors it means any and all alcoholic consumption any time during pregnancy and any time while trying to get pregnant (it being notoriously difficult to pinpoint exactly when these things will happen). Hopefully, not something you’re worrying about right now, but you should still know.

Underage drinking means drinking while not yet of legal age. Duh. Did I mention the It’s Not Legal part? Or the It Leads to All Sorts of Problems part? Or the Don’t Call Me to Bail You Out of Jail part?

Binge drinking means 5 or more drinks within 2 or 3 hours for men or 4 or more drinks for women within the same timeframe. Ha! you say. Who would drink that much? Or perhaps you wouldn’t say that because you know plenty of people who do. Binge drinking is rather prevalent on campuses. What’s worse is that (fasten your seat belt) 1 in 6 adults (that’s 38 million people if you’re counting) indulges in binge drinking.

Heavy weekly drinking means 15 or more drinks per week for men or 8 or more drinks per week for women. With some quick math you can probably figure out this means just 2 or more drinks a day for a man or 1 a day for a woman – on a consistent basis – can cause real, life threatening problems.

Let’s dig further, shall we?

“A drink” is defined as: 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of liquor. Ever watch someone pour a glass of wine? Frequently well over 5 ounces. Fancy mixed drinks? A typical Long Island Ice Tea has 2.5 ounces of liquor. And those red solo cups? Typically, they hold 16 ounces. Get my point? Supersize Me, alcohol style.

And we’re not talking shaving 20 minutes off someone’s life span. According to the CDC, people who die from alcohol abuse die about 30 years earlier than they would have otherwise.

Thirty years.

Pretty much forever from your perspective I assume.

If you think this is meant to scare/worry/upset/concern you, you are absolutely correct.

Have a nice caffeine-free diet coke or a glass of water and live on.

Love, Mom