You Can't Drink Away Your Worries

Binge drinking increases when the economy is down

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) You had a bad day and all you need is a beer to soothe your problems. That seems to be the common mindset with others as well because binge drinking is increasing during these hard times.

You can't blame people for trying to drink away their problems especially as unemployment rates rise. How are they supposed to take care of themselves, let alone a family? Times are hard, but drinking is not the answer.

"Seek help from your doctor if your alcohol use is increasing."

Principal investigator, Michael T. French, a professor of Health Economics Research Group at the University of Miami College of Arts and Sciences, and colleagues report the first study to show that problematic or risky drinking is still increasing even though incomes are declining during this economic downturn.

They found that cases of binge drinking increases while the overall economic conditions worsen - especially in adults between 18 and 24 years old. Cases of drunk driving, alcohol abuse and dependence have also increased for both genders and all ethnic groups.

Binge drinking was found to be more common in individuals with higher educational levels and higher incomes. Even employed citizens are binge drinking more often and driving afterwards. French believes this is because people are turning to drinking from psychological effects like fear that they'll lose their jobs.

At this rate, more people are going to be showing up to alcohol abuse programs because economists believe the unemployment rate will stay like this for several years.

Barbara Long, M.D. excerpted from Keep Your Eye on the Prize!-- a Young Person's Guidebook to Adulthood (, added her "Medical Wisdom":

  1. "Moderate drinking" is less than you might think! According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it consists of no more than one drink a day for women or two drinks for men. One drink is defined as 1.5 ounces of spirits, a 12-ounce can or bottle of beer, or one five-ounce glass of wine.
  2. Alcohol, especially during a period of high stress like unemployment, may be covering a depression, but it will only make it worse and create other mental and physical problems you don't need at this time. Talk to a professional to get help.
  3. If you think your use (or someone else's) might be a problem, take the CAGE, an online screening tool for alcohol dependence. The CAGE acronym comes from:
  • A need to Cut down on your drinking?
  • Annoyed when others criticize your drinking?
  • Guilty about your drinking?
  • A need for an Eye-opener in the morning?

The researchers examined data from existing studies from 2001 to 2005. The studies included measures on alcohol abuse and dependence. The study titled "Macroeconomic Conditions and Excessive Alcohol Consumption" is published in the online journal Health Economics.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 13, 2011
Last Updated:
October 14, 2011