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Friday, January 3, 2014

State Alcohol Policy Prevents Binge Drinking

A Kranz (wreath) of K├Âlsch beer.
Binge drinking continues to be a major problem throughout the United States; it is responsible for more than half of the 80,000 alcohol related deaths that occur each year. Sadly, a large proportion of binge drinking related accidents involve teenagers and young adults. Many of those deaths could be prevented if the proper policies were in effect, according to new research.

A new study, led by researchers at the Boston University Schools of Medicine (BUSM) and Public Health and Boston Medical Center (BMC), has looked into the effects of alcohol policies on binge drinking. Researchers created a composite measure of 29 alcohol policies showing that a strong alcohol policy environment is a preventive defense against binge drinking in the U.S.

"If alcohol policies were a newly discovered gene, pill or vaccine, we'd be investing billions of dollars to bring them to market," said Tim Naimi, MD, MPH, senior author of the study, and associate professor of medicine at BUSM and attending physician at BMC.

Research showed that states with alcohol policy environments differed considerably, but states with fewer policies in place had binge drinking rates that were 33% higher. "Unfortunately, most states have not taken advantage of these policies to help drinkers consume responsibly, and to protect innocent citizens from the devastating second-hand effects and economic costs from excessive drinking," added Naimi.

The policy environments from state to state showed to greatly impact the differences in binge drinking. "The bottom line is that this study adds an important dimension to a large body of research demonstrating that alcohol policies matter - and matter a great deal - for reducing and preventing the fundamental building block of alcohol-related problems," said Naimi.

The research was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
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