Category Archives: Blog

Binge Drinking in New Jersey

Tobacco use has gone down in New Jersey in the past years, but binge drinking for age 12 and up, has steadily increased. Though it’s not a significant increase, it is still on the rise. Check out this graph that shows the dangers of drug use in New Jersey on dependence.

Treatment Admissions in Morris County

Did you know that in New Jersey, in 2016, there were 91  admissions to treatment for alcohol related reasons for people under 18? And in Morris County, there were 6 alcohol treatment admissions for those under 18. Though 6 may not seem like a high number, that means that not only were people under age drinking, but drinking to the point of needing detox or alcohol use treatment. Over the past year, the alcohol admissions have declined, but drug admissions have gone up. In 2015, there were 54 drug related admissions in Morris County, which in one year, went up to 88 drug related admissions.

As the perception of risk continues to be lowered, the rate of use continues to go up.

Population Health Summit: A review

Yesterday, June 5th, 2018, was the 3rd Annual Population Health Summit in Bridgewater, New Jersey. The topic was focusing in on utilizing an integrated approach to address the opioid epidemic/crisis. In 2016, there were a total of 64,070 fatal overdoses in the United States, 2,200 of those being in New Jersey, 35 in Morris County. Though the number of overdoses in on the rise, there has been little action to limit the number of prescribing doctors. In New Jersey, we have 1,332 licensed prescribers but only 38 Medication Assistance Treatment (MAT). These numbers do not make sense. New Jersey increases the number of those able to prescribe, yet does not increase the number of treatment facilities that use prescriptions.

Dr. Nash, key note speaker, stated that we need to “shut off the faucet instead of mopping up the mess.” It is important to provide the prevention measures so that we can cut the opioid epidemic off at the source, and prevent people from even starting to use drugs. Dr. Nash also noted that 50% of all opioid users are unemployed and 25% are permanently disabled. This shows that the opioid epidemic needs to be looked at from the very beginning. If we provide resources from the beginning, keeping people healthy all around, it could limit the amount of people getting involved in drugs. Furthermore, it is important to address the institutional racism that has caused minorities and lower income persons to be pushed further and further away from medical care access.

The key component of the summit was to note that prevention and intervention is not a one person job. It is important for the law makers, family services, treatment centers, insurance companies, and caregivers to work together. Addressing the epidemic is a team sport, and is something that influences the entire population.

Morris County Drinking Stats

In Morris County, 26.1% of people between ages 18 and 34 are considered binge drinkers in data collected by NJSHAD, 2016. When taking this data and generalizing it over the entirety of Morris County with 95% confidence that the data is accurate and not coincidental, the range goes all the way up to a potential   Comparatively, both Passaic and Bergen county have significantly less binge drinkers, both falling about 21% (NJSHAD, 2016), and when generalized, the max is only 37%. Hudson county is also just below Morris County with a binge drinking percent of 25% and max range of 36%. Though Morris County is not the highest binge drinking county in Northern New Jersey, it is clear that the generalized data is still a high number. Especially comparing Morris County to the National Average of 25%, it becomes a larger issue.

The definition of binge drinking is having four or more drinks in one sitting for women and five or more drinks in one sitting for men, in the past 30 days. Part of the reason why binge drinking is so high in Morris County could be the number of alcohol outlets, which is approximately 473 outlets. Perception of risk is also low. The combination of outlets and low perception of risk heavily results in not only binge drinking, but also underage drinking.

Why is underage drinking so dangerous? People often question why the drinking age in the United States is 21, where in other countries it’s 18, but the brain does not stop developing until early to mid twenties. Harm to the brain during the development stages is much worse and can be irreversible. According to the CDC each year, there has been on average: 492 suicides in underage people that have been related to alcohol; 1580 motor vehicle crashes that result in death due to underage drinking; 245 deaths due to drowning, alcohol poisoning, or falling because of drinking; and 1269 homicides where the person was underage drinking. This is a total of 4358 deaths, on average, each year due to underage drinking.

CCSHM is working with New Jersey to raise awareness of the risk of underage drinking in Morris County and working to prevent the sales and consumption to underage persons. Currently, CCSHM has been handing out tool kits to all different types of liquor outlets – restaurants, bars, liquor stores, etc – that include a 2018 ID book, a black light, and some more information on encouraging people to always check ID.

Binge Drinking: Dangerous At Any Age

Contributed by: Community Coalition for Safe and Healthy Morris
An average of 6 people die of alcohol poisoning each day in the United States. Alcohol poisoning is caused by drinking large quantities of alcohol in a short period of time. Very high levels of alcohol in the body can shut down critical areas of the brain that control breathing, heart rate, and body temperature, resulting in death. Alcohol poisoning deaths affect people of all ages but are most common among middle-aged adults.

Center for Disease Control (CDC) scientists analyzed deaths from alcohol poisoning among people aged 15 years and older, using multiple cause-of-death data from the National Vital Statistics System for 2010-2012. Alcohol dependence (alcoholism) was identified as a contributing factor in 30 percent of these deaths, and other drugs were noted to have been a factor in about 3 percent of the deaths. While this study reveals that alcohol poisoning deaths are a bigger problem than previously thought, it is still likely to be an underestimate of actual incidence.

Despite the risks, more than 38 million U.S. adults report binge drinking an average of four times per month and consume an average of eight drinks per binge. Binge drinking is defined as consuming four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men on one occasion. Binge drinking typically leads to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that exceeds 0.08 g/dL, the legal limit for driving in all states. U.S. adults who binge drink consume an average of about 8 drinks per binge, which can result in even higher levels of alcohol in the body. The more a person drinks, the greater the risk of death.

Binge drinking is not just an “adult” problem. Nationwide, 15.9 percent of youth aged 12 to 20 were binge drinkers in the 30 days prior to being surveyed. In New Jersey students in grades 9-12, 67.9% had at least one drink of alcohol on one or more days during their life. 14.6% had their first drink of alcohol, other than a few sips, before age 13. 39.3% had at least one drink of alcohol on one or more occasions in the past 30 days. 23.0% had five or more drinks of alcohol in a row (binge drinking) in the past 30 days.
Binge drinking can be dangerous at any age. Key findings of a CDC Vital Signs Report indicate there are more than 2,200 alcohol poisoning deaths in the U.S. each year – an average of 6 alcohol poisoning deaths every day.

Binge drinking is harmful because of the potential serious consequences, and people who binge on a regular basis are at even higher risk. Since young people frequently combine high-risk activities with binge drinking, their potential for death or serious injury is very high. In addition to potential death from alcohol poisoning, other dangers include: death or injury due to falls, fires, drowning, or a drunk driving car crash; unsafe sex including pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases due to unintended sexual activity; violence including being the victim or perpetrator of date rape or other assault; and addiction. Medical research has also proven that because the teen brain is still developing, underage drinking can cause permanent damage.

We can take steps to reduce alcohol poisoning deaths by preventing binge drinking. If you choose to drink alcohol, follow the dietary guidelines. Avoid drinks with unknown alcohol content or mixing alcohol with energy drinks. Caffeine can mask alcohol’s effects and cause people to drink more than they intend. Get immediate help for anyone experiencing life threatening signs of alcohol poisoning. Talk to your doctor, nurse, or other health care provider if you think you may have a drinking problem, or call the national Treatment Referral Routing Service (1-800-662-HELP).

Community Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Morris has been working towards reducing underage drinking through providing education to parents and youth. Please visit our website, safehealthymorris.org, to learn more about our mission, and find additional information on how to prevent and the consequences of underage drinking.