State health officials have spent the last month working to raise awareness about the dangers of binge drinking. April is Alcohol Awareness Month. Julie Hibben, Substance Abuse Prevention Coordinator at the Iowa Department of Public Health, says there are a few different definitions for what constitutes “binge” drinking. “The source we tend to cite is four or more drinks for a woman and five or more for a man. That’s in one setting or occasion,” Hibben says.
In recent years, there’s been a decline in the percentage of Iowa teenagers who drink alcohol. However, Hibben says too many teens are still putting their health at risk. “According to our Iowa Youth Survey data, 21-percent of 11th-grade boys and 18-percent of 11th-grade girls reported they binge drank in the last 30 days,” Hibben says.
Studies show that youth who drink alcohol are more likely to use other drugs, experience higher absences from school, and have poor or failing grades, according to Hibben. She’s encouraging parents to talk with their children about the dangers of alcohol. Hibben says many adults may need to change their habits if they hope to lead by example. “Iowa is one of seven states in the nation with the highest rates of adults who binge drink,” Hibben says.