This Week’s Report: “Alcohol Abuse”

Binge drinking and other forms of excessive alcohol use kill 80,000 Americans a year and drain more than $220 billion from the economy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Yet, while alcohol abuse is down overall in American society,  that is not the case among college students, who drink more alcohol and binge drink more often than non-students of similar ages.

And this week’s Researcher points to another disturbing trend: the rising popularity of flavored alcoholic beverages such as Four Loko, Blast and Tilt. One expert calls Four Loko, with its 12 percent alcohol content and 23.5-ounce containers, “a binge in a can,” with the effect of up to five beers. Some researchers say the increased sale of such products contributes to girls now drinking as much or more than boys.

This compelling report includes a discussion on lowering the legal drinking age, a sidebar on a university’s efforts to control excessive drinking and a lively debate on whether raising alcohol taxes would reduce abusive drinking.

--Thomas J. Billitteri, Managing Editor