AA is Antiquated

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I quit AA again last night. I am an alcoholic and an addict. Apparently, the AA meetings I go to here in New York, don’t want to hear from addicts, only alcoholics.

Last night the gentleman who qualified, had both alcoholism and addiction in his story. He had 12 years sober, tore a shoulder ligament, then became addicted to pain pills. He pulled his life together, put together another 12 years of sobriety, and then incurred a debilitating back injury. He told the doctor that he was an addict, so the did not give him opiates, they gave him suboxone, more addictive than heroin. He slowly took himself off of it, supplemented with vodka.

The floor then became open in a round robin style share. I have difficulty sharing under the best circumstances, but this was something I know about. Having an injury where pain pills have re-entered my life, I got a lot out of his story. As people began to share, the shares leaned more to addiction rather than alcohol.

I rarely, if ever, raise my hand. I was with my sponsor, and she said, maybe you could talk about what you have recently experienced. I let a few more people speak, then raised my hand, at the exactly the same time. Fortunately, he called on her. After her share, the moderator then stated that all shares only be about alcohol.

Alcohol and prescription medicine are my addictions. I went to AA for the fellowship,  the understanding, and the like mindedness of the people in the room. If I am limited in what I am “allowed” to speak about, then I am not being true to myself, nor am I putting my real self out there.

After the announcement was made, I was stunned. I then quickly picked up my bag and promptly left. I decided on my way home, through many tears, that I am done. I do not need to go to meetings to feel like shit, I can stay at home and do that to myself. I hate intolerance, and I don’t accept it, and I won’t get over it. I have no patience for feeling intimidated about speaking, due to some antiquated rule.

21.5 million people in the United States are addicts, 7 million battle a drug use disorder, about 1 out of every 8 people. A lot of people are cross addicted. When is AA going to move into the new century, and realize that they can not longer be an exclusionary group? Until that time comes, I will have to find a new program that will accept and tolerate a cross addicted person. Anyone have any suggestions?

 

 

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DRINKING DREAMS

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I had my very first drinking dream last night.  I have read a lot about people having these types of dreams in early sobriety, I never did.  I was taken by surprise by it, given that I just celebrated 16 months of sobriety on Monday.

When I awoke this morning, the dream was still very vivid in my mind.  As I lay in bed, making sure all my parts were still working, I began to delve into what made me have that dream now.  Especially after all this time.

I have a trip to Maine scheduled for the end of the month.  It is a celebration for my step mother being elected the state President of a women’s charity group she is involved in.  My grandmother was a member, my step mother is a member, and for me to be able to attend her induction, she made me and her daughter members.  When I was first asked to attend the state convention where the award would be bestowed, it was four years ago, and I said “of course I will come”.  I figured I had four years, a lot could happen in four years, it was easy to say yes without real intentions behind the yes.

It is now four years later, and the convention is upon us.  An event that I thought was going to be small, intimate celebration has now blossomed into a full on party.

It is my impression that my step mothers installment as the President for the state of Maine in this charity has become an event.  It has become a THING, a rather large thing.  The small gathering has blossomed into a semi large family reunion of sorts.  My brother, his wife and two children are flying in from Missouri, and my step mothers son is making a special trip from Massachusetts.  None of these people will get to see the honor being bestowed, as it is a women’s only group, and you have to be a member.  The only people in attendance will be me, and her daughter.  The other family members have been invited for a post convention celebration.

My step mother is very excited about this position, and has worked hard to get it.  Because she wanted me there, she offered to pay for my airfare and hotel.  I picked out my flights, and she booked the hotel.  As you can imagine, there was conversation regarding these arrangements, just not full disclosure.

As the celebration got larger, I  was asked to include my daughter, who is only a two hour drive from Portland. I was more than happy to do that.  She is my heart and soul, and helps keep me grounded.  I figured this adventure would create a few trigger moments, and it would be easier with her by my side.  Plus, I had the paid for hotel room for her to stay in with me, great plan right?

Wrong.  I was informed, yesterday, that my step mother has booked to share a room with her daughter,  a woman whom I have not seen in 25+ years, and who is a black out drinker.  It was then casually tossed in that she and I will also be sharing a bed, because step mom was sure I wouldn’t mind.  I do mind, I really, really mind.

I have been under an extraordinary amount of stress over the last four months.  The stress has led me to question my sobriety regularly.  I have had far to many white knuckle days for comfort, and feel like I have been distancing myself from both my sponsor, and my meetings.  My mothers death has been an emotional challenge, and now we are packing our home and moving.  All catalysts to my old way of thinking, drown all discomfort with copious amounts of white wine, it will go away.

I also have a horrible time sleeping, crazy bedtime rituals, and hotel rooms are where I am at my craziest. (I travel with electrical tape for all of the little lights in the room.).  I have shared a lot of crazy with my family, but I really don’t feel the need for full disclosure.  Suffice it to say there are nights my husband doesn’t even want to be in the same bed, let alone room with me.

Needless to say, this information sent me into a tail spin.  I finally hit that wall that had been coming closer and closer. I had a major meltdown.  A crying, hyperventilating, rocking back and forth on the floor meltdown.  I would say that this has been lurking inside for quite some time, but the room and bed share were the straws that broke the flood gates open.

Once I composed myself, I immediately got on line, and booked my OWN room.  Easy fix.  Normal people would have just gone and done that without all the neurotic histrionics. Instead I got myself so worked up, that I no longer want to attend, my own room or not.

When my family gets together, every one drinks, it is what we have always done.  I don’t do that any more, and I have yet to find my comfort zone with not drinking around my family.  Old habits are hard to overcome.

With all of this fresh on my mind, I dreamt that I joined in with the drinking and the partying in Maine.  I was at the table having dinner, downing glasses of red wine, one after another, just like the old days.

All of this is disconcerting.  I know I need to be sober, but there is still a part of me that doesn’t want to be sober.  That girl wants to drink.  I hope she isn’t in Maine in May.

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BEGINNING AND ENDINGS

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I got sober 15 months and 28 days ago.  Getting sober was an ending to my drinking, my hungover self-loathing, my afternoon naps, and diligently watching the time waiting for wine o’clock,so I could begin the ugly cycle again.  Getting sober was the beginning of becoming healthier; mentally and physically.  I began to be responsible for my actions, and feelings.  I started to develop better, deeper and more open personal relationships with the people I care about.  Getting sober meant I had to deal with life on life’s terms, and feel those feelings I had been drowning in alcohol and prescription narcotics.  Although not always easy, fun or even something I want to do, getting sober feels like it was the beginning of me as a real person.  In retrospect, I wish I had had the fortitude to do it much sooner.

I have had one heck of a sober first year.  I have written a lot about seeking and believing in a higher power. I have had great difficulty understanding giving my life over to this unknown anomaly and basically not being a believer.  Looking back over the last 15 months of my life, I now have a distinct impression that I have had a guiding hand on my back the whole time.  I have been through a lot of personal and emotional turmoil in the last 15 months.  There have been beginnings and endings and beginnings again.  The timing of these events has been unprecedented, and on a linear aspect, quite amazing the way it has all played out.

My life has come full circle,an ending has come to the new beginning that started 7 years ago.  We have just sold our house in Tennessee and are moving back north to New York.

New York is where my relationship with my husband began.  We ended our time there for a new beginning in the south with my son.  He has since grown up, ended his time here, and begun anew in Illinois.  His leaving the nest was very painful for me.  I knew my job was to raise him with wings to fly, yet when it was time for him to use those wings, I wanted to clip them and keep him with me, I was not ready for the ending to this chapter of my life.  He is flourishing in his new beginning, he is happy, making great money, and becoming the person I always knew he could be, what a great beginning.

When I ended my life in Massachusetts, I left my mother behind, as my son left me, it was time for me to move my life into a new beginning with a new husband and a new home.  Experiencing the beginnings and endings in my mothers life were fraught with emotion.  In September of 2013, I moved my healthy mother from Massachusetts to Virginia.  In August of 2014, I moved my moderately sick mother from Virginia to Missouri.  In February, upon her death, I was tasked with the chore of culling through her things yet again.  My brother and I distributed, packed, stored and threw away the contents of my mothers life. I was involved in all of my mother’s new beginnings.  Overwhelmingly followed by her devastating ending.

Throughout this time, I have been o loop
bserving my father in law head toward his ending  He is now 99 1/2 years old and still living alone.

Our new beginning is going back for the ending.  We are moving in with him to help him.  We both know this is the beginning of the end for him, that is why we have made the decision to return north.

We will again experience a new beginning, we are lucky, right now it is on hold, the ending has to come first.

ANONYMITY IT’S PERSONAL

imagesThe topic at Monday night’s AA meeting was anonymity. There are two schools of thought on this subject in recovery.  You either want to be anonymous, or you don’t.

There is a movement to take anonymity out of recovery.  The premise is that remaining anonymous is synonymous with shame.  If recovery has faces attached to it, people will begin to realize that addiction affects people in all walks of life.  There are 23 million people in recovery.

The “old timers” and “Big Book thumper’s” stand by the 11th tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous:

“Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and film.”

My home group consists of mostly old timers.  Most have double digit years of sobriety.  There is a lot of knowledge around the tables in that room, and I have learned so much.

A year ago, a newly sober man started to attend the group.  Within a week or two, I had named him Blow Hard.  He came into the rooms with an air of “I got this”, he has never asked for help or a sponsor.  My opinion is he is a lurker, counting days, and sporadically attending meetings. In my opinion, he never really adds anything, and always makes some self serving comment about himself so that we all get that he used to be “somebody”.  I am not enamored, and prefer it when he doesn’t show up.

There are a lot of men at this meeting, and only a few women.  One of the ladies is absolutely lovely.  Very gentile, very southern, loves to bake, and is the go to desert maker for any sober birthdays.  Intuitively I knew that she regards her privacy, sobriety and anonymity as sacred.  Unfortunately this was not clear to Blow Hard.

Blow Hard broke the cardinal rule of AA, he opened his mouth and broke lovely ladies (LL) anonymity.  Blow Hard shared LL’s story with his wife, who then approached LL at church and regurgitated it word for word.  LL was devastated and angry to say the least.  LL shared this story with us two weeks ago.  Blow Hard had not been at a meeting in weeks, so LL thought that the breach might have made him find a new group.  Nope.

We have another gentleman, X,  who sporadically comes to the Monday night meeting.  I have been intrigued by him since the first time I heard him speak.  I knew he had a lot of sobriety, and was very knowledgeable about the Big Book and AA.  Each time he had attended the group, he had added a unique perspective to the discussion.  I always felt there was more underneath and wished he would attend more often, so I could get some more of what he had.

The planets aligned Monday night.  Blow Hard, LL, and X all were at the meeting.  I could see by LL’s face that she was quite agitated that Blow Hard was there, and seated next to her.  Just as the meeting began, X came in the door.

The moderator began, and asked for a topic for discussion..  X immediately seized the moment.  He had just seen a post  on Facebook from someone announcing their 6 month sobriety.  He was incensed that the 11th Tradition had been violated. This set the topic of discussion.  Anonymity versus personal disclosure.

As the discussion continued, I could see LL getting more agitated. She eventually blew her stack.  She let it all out, she called him out on it, and then went on to warn us all to be very careful about what we shared in that meeting because it could happen to any one of us.  Our private stories could be broadcast to anyone by Blow Hard, he does not understand the anonymous in Alcoholics Anonymous.

I do not broadcast that I am an alcoholic or that I attend AA and am in recovery.  I share the information with people I trust and I am comfortable with, people I choose.  I blog anonymously, but there are some bloggers who know who I am, and a little bit about me.  I believe it is a personal choice, and I get to make it  I also know that if all bloggers were anonymous, I would not be sober today.  This is where I came to get sober, so many people helped me anonymously and personally, with names, emails and telephone numbers.  I thank each and every one.

I can also understand the “old timers” adherence to the Big Book and the 11th tradition.  It has worked for 75 years, why change it now?

The choice should always be your own, no one else should get to do it for you.

FALLING FORWARD

I just saw the movie You’re not You.  This song is at the end, and it really resonated with me.  This is how I feel about my sobriety, this journey and my sponsor.

At least I am falling forward.

Finally I’m laying down these arms
The ones I held so close to see me through
And I’m just like a sparrow in a barn
I’m flyin’ for that tiny patch of blue
I dive head-first into the dark
I don’t look back, I just keep stumbling
I trip and fall
I hit the ground, I skin my knees
I just keep going
I made a mess, I’ve been a mess, I guess
And guess what – life is messy
And if I learned anything
At least I’m falling forward
Because of you
I’m fallin’ forward

Patriots vs Broncos: Sunday, Funday Football

In case none of you have figured it out yet, I am a life-long, rabid Patriots fan.  I grew up in New England.  I loved the Patriots when they were awful, then good, and now great.

I have followed the team through all of the good, bad and ugly years.  I grew up on Patriots football, and beer.  Booze goes with football, everyone knows it.

Since we moved south, the Patriots games are not televised here every Sunday.  That didn’t keep me from drinking through all of the other Sunday NFL games that were on.  Football season, license to crack open a bottle of wine at 1 pm!

There is something special for me about a Patriots game.  It is bonding time with my son, and of course a time to have many glasses of wine.

This season I have had to watch most of the games on my computer.  Doing that just isn’t as fun as watching it in High Definition on a 55 inch television screen.  Computer viewing certainly did not trigger any alcohol cravings.

I can’t say the same for tonight’s game.

The Brady-Manning rivalry is legendary in the NFL.  I think it is mostly media hype, but it certainly does add a large dose of excitement to the game.

This afternoons game was on national television.  We actually got the game in my living room!

Along with the hype and excitement came a wave of craving for a big glass of white wine.  Football and alcohol, especially when it is a big game, just go together.

My husband had his vodka and cranberry, my son had his beer, I had my seltzer and pomegranate juice.  It just did not feel right.  It didn’t feel like football.

i can handle these cravings better now, I know that they will pass, sometimes they linger for a while, sometimes they are instantaneous. I just have to wait them out. They are uncomfortable as I am going through them, and I keep wondering when they will stop,  Everyone says they will, but as of today, I still seem to have multiple trigger points.

I got through it, and the game was awesome.  It was a fantastic Patriots win. It was a romp, and as a hardcore fan, it was great to see Peyton Manning have a terrible game, and get a beat down by Tom Brady and the Patriots.  Rob Gronkowski added to his growing legend, and Tom Brady was terrific.  My favorite player, Julian Edelman, had an 84 yard punt return for a touchdown.

Julian Edelman was a 7th round draft pick. He is only 5′ 10” tall and 198 pounds.  He was an unknown, no one could figure out what the Patriots were going to do with a small guy who had played quarterback in college. No one ever thought he would make the team.  Edelman is one of the hardest working players on the team.  He had to prove himself to everyone, and he has.

I feel the same way about my sobriety. Albeit, I am the one who thinks I am not good enough, and that I can’t stay sober.  So, in the words of Julian Edelman, there are only two things I can do; I can prove ’em right, or I can prove ’em wrong.  It is entirely up to me.

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This Commercial Break Brought to you by Budweiser

My husband was watching the first game of the World Series Wednesday night.  I was in the room, reading.  I looked up in time to catch the end of a new Budweiser advertisement that was created to air during the World Series.

My initial reaction was, WHAT??  What happened to “Drink Responsibly”?

Yesterday, I watched the full commercial on YouTube.

Of course, the ad is well done, and the story tugs at your heart strings.  A man and his dog, an age old story.

Who doesn’t love a dog?  It is especially heartwarming after the montage of the dog and man bonding.  Growing from puppy to full grown dog and trusted companion.

After watching the commercial a few times, I still had the same feeling.  The message it was perpetuating was wrong.

I spent time Goggling reviews of this commercial.  All the analysts seem to love it.  Although I got the sense that they love the adorable dog, and handsome man more than the message.

The commercial is tagged by Budweiser:

“Next time you go out, be sure to make a plan to get home safely. Your friends are counting on you. Enjoy Budweiser responsibly. #FriendsAreWaiting,”

A bit of an oxymoron, don’t you think?  If you are drinking responsibly, you should be able to drive home, correct?

For a recovering alcoholic, I find the commercial disturbing.  The way I interpret it is thus; go out, drink as much as you want, get drunk, and pass out at a friends because you are far to inebriated to drive home.

License to drink irresponsibly, woot!

Upon returning home in the morning, your trusty companion will be waiting at the door.

He will not have gone through the garbage, chewed on the furniture, or crapped on the rug while you were out .  He will be concerned and awaiting patiently on your beautiful leather sofa, like a concerned human, just happy you made it home, finally, safely.

I find this ad to be the antithesis of the “Drink Responsibly” campaign.

I find it unsettling, and feel that its message is way off mark.

What Effect Does Alcohol Have on the Body? (Copied from Sober Nation)

What Effects does Alcohol Have on the Body?
Alcoholism is an overwhelmingly present issue. It is a very powerful and damaging disease that is very capable of taking your health for a horrific downfall if left untreated.

With the consistent abuse of alcohol or someone suffering from alcoholism, there are short- and long-term effects on the body. But what someone may not realize is that the short-term all too often turns into the long-term and then you have reached an entirely new obstacle.

So what happens when you drink alcohol? Sure, it all seems well and good until you over drink. Who has ever had an experience in which you drank too much, became ill and swore off drinking all together! I know I have.

However, one thing is certain: Continuing to consume alcohol will bring upon uninhibited feelings tied with possible dizziness, slurred speech, possible aggressiveness and violence, emotional ups and downs and a sense of false well-being. Then you can look forward to the next day…the infamous hangover. A typical hangover which results from too much alcohol will cause headache, nausea, and fatigue.

While many people consume alcohol and willingly endure these short-term effects without having any sort of trouble or difficulty stopping, some aren’t so willing to stop and become addicted. However, there are still short term effects that should be noted.

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Short-Term Effects

Alcohol is absorbed into our system through the walls of our stomach and intestines, which is why people get intoxicated more quickly on an empty stomach. Alcohol is processed by the liver, which is the only organ that produces the proper enzyme. When a person is drunk, they generally go through different “stages.” Starting with euphoria, as a person drinks alcohol they move into a stage of lethargy, followed by confusion, stupor, and coma or death.

Here is a list of some of the common short-term effects of alcohol on our bodies, which worsen and can become severe or life-threatening as more alcohol is consumed.

Flushed face or red blotches on the skin
Impaired fine motor skills
Sedation
Impaired memory
Lack of muscle coordination
Poor balance
Blurred vision or other impaired senses
Impaired ability to speak
Dizziness
Numbness to pain
Nausea or vomiting
Unconsciousness
Inability to create new memories
Decreased heart rate
Difficulty urinating
Respiratory depression
Long-Term Effects

For people who drink a lot of alcohol on a regular basis, the effects on their body can be quite significant. The liver is the part of the body that’s most affected. Long-term alcohol use can lead to a fatty liver, fibrosis, cirrhosis, and inflammation. The liver will not work as well and fewer nutrients and oxygen will reach the liver cells, which will eventually lead to liver failure.

Here is a list of more parts of the body that are affected by frequent alcohol consumption and how they’re affected:

Heart: Heavy drinking can raise blood pressure and lead to heart arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy, and stroke.
Brain: The brain’s communication pathways are impaired, which causes many of the short-term effects of alcohol, such as lack of coordination and memory. With heavy drinking, some damage to the brain and its communication pathways can be permanent.
Pancreas: Alcohol makes the pancreas produce a toxic substance that can lead to a swollen pancreas and swollen blood vessels in the pancreas, which impairs digestion.
Kidneys: Alcohol enlarges the kidneys, impairs their ability to function, and can lead to kidney disease and kidney failure.
Immune System: Heavy drinking lowers the body’s defenses against disease and infection.
There are many other ways that alcohol can affect the body in the long-term. Frequent, long-term alcohol consumption can also lead to these diseases and conditions (directly or indirectly):

Cancer of the mouth, esophagus, throat, breast, liver, and colon.
Gouty arthritis
Pneumonia
Tuberculosis
Hyperglycemia
Hypoglycemia
Malnutrition
Nervous disorders like dementia and neuropathy
Obesity
Psychological disorders like depression, insomnia, and anxiety
Fetal alcohol syndrome
The long-term effects of consuming alcohol will most definitely lead to some sort of damage to vital organs such as the liver and the brain. Oftentimes, alcoholism will lead to permanent damage. Other long-term issues entail a lack of good nutrition, as the alcoholic is focused on the drinking rather than eating properly. They also may suffer financially, as it is very difficult for someone to balance the disease of alcoholism and a commitment to employment.

There is a thin line between drinking alcohol in moderation and having it consume your life. Alcoholism often begins with casual and social drinking and then turns into a long-term lifestyle. No matter what your decision, to drink or not, the best thing you can do is be as aware as possible of all the dangers of alcohol running rampant.

WTF???

Dollar General sells beer and wine in Virginia!  So does CVS.  It is like a sneak attack, browsing through the cards, and  turn down the next aisle and BAM, WINE and BEER.  Huh?  

Where was all of this wine when I was drinking and had to drive 12 miles to the liquor store?

Oh right, I don’t live in Virginia.  This must be a very hard place to quit drinking.

CDC Study: 1 in 10 deaths of Adults are from Alcohol

One in 10 deaths among working-age adults between 2006 and 2010 were attributable to excessive drinking, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.

A study published in Preventing Chronic Disease found that excessive alcohol use — which includes binge drinking, heavy weekly alcohol consumption and drinking while underage or pregnant — was responsible for approximately 88,000 deaths between 2006 and 2010. The lives of those who died were shortened by about 30 years.

About 70% of those deaths were working-age adults between the ages of 20 to 64, said Mandy Stahre, epidemiologist at the Washington State Department of Health and author of the study.

“We’re talking about a large economic impact, people who are contributing to society,” Stahre said. “They’re in the prime of their lives, whether they’re building up careers or midcareer. A lot of attention we tend to focus on is maybe college drinking or just drunk driving. This really talked about the broadness of the problem.”

The study was conducted using the CDC’s Alcohol-Related Disease Impact tool, which estimates total alcohol-attributable deaths across the United States and in individual states. This study marks the first release of a nationwide report on the number of alcohol-related deaths, but Stahre said they had been collecting information since 2001. The tool gathers mortality statistics from local and state governments, and used scientific methods developed by a group of experts on alcohol and public health to determine the number of deaths linked to alcohol use.

There has been a small rise in deaths since 2001, but nothing statistically significant, Stahre said. The 2010 figures represent the last year that data is available, but Stahre hopes the CDC will continue releasing reports every five years to monitor the mortality rates. Stahre also hopes the reports will push state governments to enact more policies concerning alcohol regulation and spread awareness of the potentially fatal consequences of excessive drinking.

William Kerr, a scientist with the Alcohol Research Group, a national research organization, agrees that the current government policies in place could be strengthened toward alcohol regulation.

“It’s important to think about what might be done to reduce this (death) toll, and think about government policies that might reduce availability and increase the price of alcohol that is known to impact drinking in general and binge drinking,” Kerr said.

The Distilled Spirits Council, however, took issue with recommendations it says the CDC has made for increased alcohol taxes, and limiting hours for alcohol sales and the density of retail alcohol outlets. “Repeatedly, studies have shown that alcohol abusers are affected little by price,” said Lisa Hawkins, the council’s vice president, in a statement. It’s the moderate alcohol consumers who are most affected by price, she said.

The CDC tool estimates the number of the alcohol-related deaths that were caused by long-term health effects such as liver disease and heart disease, as well as short-period effects such as violence, alcohol poisoning, car crashes and drowning.

Stahre said binge drinking (four or more drinks per occasion for women, five or more for men) played a large role in many of these short-term health effects and even some long-term effects. Traci Toomey, an epidemiologist and professor at the University of Minnesota who specializes in alcohol prevention, agreed that binge drinkers may pose a bigger problem to society than some may think.

“Oftentimes when we talk about alcohol-related problems, people assume it’s about alcoholism and they’re the ones causing all the problems, when in fact any of us can drink alcohol in excess,” Toomey said. “So because people occasionally binge drink and there are many more of them (than alcoholics), those non-addicted binge drinkers account for more problems in our society.”

This can result in an increase in binge drinking-related accidents on holidays such as July 4th, Stahre said, when people tend to drink heavily, adding risk to activities like boating and swimming. About 1.7 million people died from short-term causes such as crashes or accidents, compared to approximately 800,000 who died from long-term health causes like cancer or strokes, according to the study.

“Alcohol is a common, socially accepted drug in our society, and it’s widely legally available and glorified to a great extent, so that certainly creates a culture where binge drinking is common and accepted in many settings,” said Toben Nelson, an epidemiologist and University of Minnesota professor.