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Binge Drinking in New York City: A Public Health Challenge Research Paper

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Updated: Feb 14th, 2022

Introduction

The sphere of public healthcare is challenged by a range of health issues that may deteriorate the wellness of separate individuals as well as communities in which they live. Binge drinking is one of such problems that may have a negative influence on the health of populations. It refers to the drinking of significant amounts of alcohol in a single occasion. The amount of liquor a person consumes in order to qualify as an episode of binge drinking is seen to be significantly more than a person would typically consume in a similar period of time. The issue of binge drinking has shown to be substantially relevant to the communities of New York City. The problem was chosen to be explored because it has a great impact on the way in which the population handles its health.

The below criteria that are used for objectively measuring the episodes of binge drinking have been put forth by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Serviced Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).1 These criteria include the following three provisions:

  • Females consuming four or more beverages containing alcohol on the same occasion at least one day during a month;
  • Males consuming five or more beverages containing alcohol on the same event at least one day during a month;
  • Individuals that are consuming liquor in a single occasion, which raises the concentration of alcohol in blood to the level of 0.08 at least one day a month.2 This indicator has been estimated for most males and females as being the number of beverages listed in the two provisions above.

It is important to note that the notion of a single point of time or single occasion that is used in the provisions above is usually considered as an individual having the drinks within a variation of few hours between one another. Besides, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has not developed a formal identification for the issues in the same that that the disorder of binge eating has been classified as a mental health disorder. At the present time, binge drinking represents a chain of harmful consumption behaviors, which can be a risk factor for the development of further problems associated with liquor use.

Scope of the Issue

The present analysis is concerned with the issue of individuals engaging in binge drinking behaviors habitually. Those people who regularly participate in binge drinking are at a significantly greater risk of developing alcohol use disorder compared to those who drink rarely. Moreover, the issue becomes more complicated because there is no certain amount of liquor one has to consume in order to be formally diagnosed with alcohol use disorder. Rather, the development of alcohol use disorder is linked to the impact of an individual’s alcohol use on the overall life, and how the regular consumption influences the ability to function normally, as well as the ability to control the use of alcohol in general. It should be noted that binge drinking behaviors usually start in late adolescent years or early adulthood, particularly in college. Those considering to continue engaging in binge drinking are have the higher likelihood of becoming heavy drinkers in the future and develop alcohol abuse issues and other related disorders.

The problem of binge drinking as related to New York City is important to consider due to the population exhibiting behaviors that could be aligned with the issue. According to Fermino for the Daily News, the majority of New Yorkers drink alcohol at least once a month, and around one in three drinkers engage in dangerous episodes of binge drinking, based on the data released by the Health Department of the city. Such behaviors present challenges for community health as 29% of New York’s binge drinkers may struggle with preventable injuries, risky behaviors, and accidents.3 In addition, when examining the links between binge drinking and health of the population in the five New York boroughs, it was found that they are twice as likely to be smokers compared to individuals who drink moderately.4 Moreover, such individuals are less likely to have a routine established by their health care providers and get preventative treatments. Therefore, when around 30% of adult drinkers in New York City admit to consuming alcohol excessively, there is a high need to conduct more outreach and facilitate education.

In the same New York City Health Department survey, it was found that 54% of citizens were current drinkers. 59% of identified binge drinkers were men, with the majority of them being between the ages of 24 and 44.5 Manhattan had the largest number of binge drinkers, with 30% of all surveyed individuals reporting living there.6 Brooklyn and Queens tied with 25% of reporting excessive binge drinking behaviors, followed by the Bronx with 16% and Staten Island with 5%.7 The specific characteristics of New York neighborhoods have an impact on the way in which binge drinking may be distributed, as illustrated by the statistics.8 According to Diez Roux and Mair, the features of neighborhoods or residential environments can have an impact on the overall health and contribute to health outcomes as well as contribute to social and race or ethnic health disparities.9 Similar findings were presented by LaVeist et al., who suggested that racial differences in various social environments can be indicative of specific health behaviors and disparities.10 There, considering the differences between New York areas and their ethnic and racial makeup, is important when in terms of the development of a cohesive intervention.

While over-indulging in alcohol has not shown to be getting worse, it is imperative to implement effective and consistent education for the population of New York City to ensure that there is no possibility of the issue exasperating. Besides, the present health crisis in the city associated with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic does not allow for the exasperation of the community’s health due to the problem of binge drinking as there are other matters of concern that healthcare providers are addressing. During the quarantine, it is important that the population of New York does not engage in excessive drinking behaviors, which points to the high need for education.

Impact of the Issue

Addressing the issue of binge drinking among the population of New York City is important because the problem is linked to numerous physical and psychological complications. The adverse consequences linked to alcohol use are closely linked to the amount of alcohol consumed instead of the type. Therefore, binge drinking on any alcohol substances results in an increased likelihood of having adverse effects as compared to the occasional consumption of liquor. Due to the powerful stimulating impact of the central nervous system and the interplay with other substances, people who binge on alcohol drinks have a higher risk of experiencing a low performance at work or academic settings, being involved in accidents as a result of the impact on physical and cognitive functioning, having relationship issues, or being involved in risky behaviors or legal issues. In terms of health, binge drinking can lead to the increased likelihood of developing liver damage, such as cirrhosis, having renal issues, being diagnosed with numerous cancer forms, being exposed to cardiovascular disorders, or developing neurological issues that can range from nerve pain to dementia.

The problem is concerning because individuals who binge drink will usually look for the potential benefits of their excessive use of alcohol and rationalize their behavior. There are several signs that could indicate that a person has a binge drinking problem. For example, an individual may be ignoring the concerns of others when the latter express their opinions regarding the excessive use of alcohol.11 In most cases, binge drinkers would become defensive and try to provide a rational explanation for why they consume alcohol. Another sign is frequently consuming more liquor than expected originally, which is a potential indicator of binge drinking as well as a sign that the individual may have alcohol use disorder. When a person often binge drinks with the original intention of only having a few alcoholic drinks and ends up having more than that, it is an indicator that the problem may be more significant. Participating in risky behaviors when being under the influence of liquor is another sign of a binge drinking problem. For example, a person who has more liquor than necessary may frequently engage in gambling, get into physical fights, or drive a motor vehicle under the influence.12 Individuals who may potentially have the binge drinking problem must recognize that their behavior is harmful. Through recognizing that, it is possible to be better prepared to resolve the problem.

Addressing the Problem

While there is no official diagnosis for identifying binge drinking disorder, major organizations that collect and analyze data regarding healthcare on substance abuse recognize that the repeated consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol is a risk to individuals having significant problems with alcohol. If a person recognizes that he or she has an issue with alcohol, it is highly essential to communicate with licensed mental health professionals who specialize in behaviors that lean into addiction. The help of a mental health specialist is important for performing a reliable assessment and making recommendations on the course of action. Support and assistance are imperative components of the care provided to individuals who consume alcohol regularly and in excessive amounts. The community of New York City must be aware of the issue in order to facilitate recovery and increase the quality of life.

In order to facilitate the improvement of the problem in New York City, it is recommended to implement evidence-based interventions that prevent binge drinking and harms related to the problem. Suggested strategies include increased alcohol taxes in the city and limiting the number of available retail alcohol spots that sell liquor in a given area. Also, holding alcohol retailers responsible for the adverse effects associated with illegal alcohol sales to minors or already intoxicated parents as well as restricting access to liquor through maintaining specific limits on the days and hours of retail sales. In addition, the local government of the city should consistently enforce laws against drinking below the legal age and driving under the influence. Finally, government controls are necessary to control alcohol sales by avoiding privatization.

The Community Preventive Task Force, which is an independent volunteer body of public health and prevention experts, recommends several evidence-based community strategies for reducing the occurrence of harmful alcohol use. In terms of regulating alcohol outlet density, the intervention implies limiting the number of outlets in a given area.13 The regulation can be implemented through the processes of licensing or zoning. Another recommended intervention is to increase taxes on the prices of alcohol to reduce the occurrence of alcohol-related harms. Such taxes can be implemented at the level of the New York state and are usually beverage-specific as well as depend on the amount of drinks purchased, which means that their effects can erode over time due to inflation.14

For New York City, maintaining limits on days and hours of sale as well as raising awareness of the problem of binge drinking represent the key recommendations. Establishing time limits on alcohol sales is expected to reduce excessive alcohol consumption by the population. The health of neighborhoods will ultimately depend on the way the city officials will approach the intervention.15 An Internet-based intervention is expected to capture the target audience of New York citizens and educate them about the effects of binge drinking. Using social media can facilitate a movement in New York City against binge drinking and the preservation of healthy communities. With support from the local government, the citizens of New York City should be informed about the adverse influence of binge drinking and the importance of promoting healthy lifestyle choices. At this time, the physical and mental health of the city’s citizens is imperative for overcoming the current challenge presented by the pandemic.

Works Cited

“Alcohol – Excessive Consumption: Increasing Alcohol Taxes.” The Community Guide, 2007. Web.

“Alcohol – Excessive Consumption: Regulation of Alcohol Outlet Density.” The Community Guide, 2007. Web.

American Addiction Centers. “When Does Binge Drinking Become a Problem?” American Addiction Centers, 2019. Web.

BRFSS Brief. Health NY, 2016. Web.

Cubbin, Catherine, et al. Commission to Build a Healthier America, 2008. Web.

Diez Roux, Ana, and Christina Mair. “Neighborhoods and Health.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, vol. 1186, 2010, pp. 125-145.

Fermino, Jennifer. Daily News, 2016. Web.

LaVeist, Thomas, et al. “Place, Not Race: Disparities Dissipate in Southwest Baltimore When Blacks and Whites Live Under Similar Conditions.” Health Affairs, vol. 30, no. 10, 2011, pp. 1880-1887.

Macintyre, Sally, and Anne Ellaway. “Neighborhoods and Health: An Overview.” Research Gate, 2003. Web.

Footnotes

  1. BRFSS Brief.
  2. BRFSS Brief.
  3. Fermino.
  4. Fermino.
  5. BRFSS Brief.
  6. Fermino.
  7. Fermino.
  8. Macintyre and Ellaway 3.
  9. Diez Roux and Mair 125.
  10. LaVeist et al. 1880.
  11. American Addiction Centers.
  12. American Addiction Centers.
  13. “Alcohol – Excessive Consumption: Regulation of Alcohol Outlet Density.”
  14. “Alcohol – Excessive Consumption: Increasing Alcohol Taxes.”
  15. Cubbin et al. 3.
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IvyPanda. "Binge Drinking in New York City: A Public Health Challenge." February 14, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/binge-drinking-in-new-york-city-a-public-health-challenge/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Binge Drinking in New York City: A Public Health Challenge." February 14, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/binge-drinking-in-new-york-city-a-public-health-challenge/.

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