Stories tagged alcohol abuse

May
18
2009

I thought you said this was a "bar": Apparently the branding was cleverer than we had thought.
I thought you said this was a "bar": Apparently the branding was cleverer than we had thought.Courtesy SWP Moblog
I… I think I may have a drinking problem.

This isn’t so much based on an analysis of my own lifestyle, as it is on which pithily-termed demographic I belong to. It’s just that I’m not totally sure exactly which group I belong to.

See, for years I was pretty sure belonged to the Pepsi Generation, but then that turned out to be an ad campaign that ran its course in the twenty years before I was born. Talk about an identity crisis.

Then I hoped I might be part of Generation X, mostly because I was really into the X Men at the time, but my parents’ refusal to get cable pretty much put the kibosh on that. And it turned out that I was a couple years too young anyway, which put me firmly on the exploring end of Generation Y.

For the most part, Generation Y has suited me fairly well. Union dues are minimal, and group picnics are infrequent and subdued (mostly we’re just trying not to get mayo on our laptops). But now I hear I might be a “Cyber Millenial.”

I know what you’re thinking. “JGordon, don’t worry, buddy. It doesn’t matter what group you’re in. You’ll always be part of Generation JGordon, and nobody can take that away from you.”

Yeah, I know. Thanks. It’s just that if I am a Cyber Millenial, I might have a drinking problem. It turns out that many of us do. A new study has shown that today’s champion drinkers aren’t just frat boys and racing fans, but also so called Cyber Millenials—youngish, urban, college-educated professionals who are ironically also extremely health conscious.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the group behind the research, used a novel method called “audience segmentation” to identify the C.M.s as heavy drinkers. I think audience segmentation is sort of the reverse of looking at a group and trying to figure out what they’re into. Instead, it looks at an activity, a product, etc, and determines what groups are into it. The technique is generally used for marketing purposes, but when they combined data from an audience segmentation study with statistics from the CDC, NIAAA found that “heavy drinking” (defined as the consumption of five or more drinks in one sitting, at least twice a month) was dominated by Cyber Millenials.

It’s weird, because, as a group, Cyber Millenials are also into healthy foods, exercise, and not smoking. Researchers think the behavior might be a holdover from hard-partying college days, combined with the C.M.’s ability to buy lots of alcohol with the money from their fancy jobs. And it’s not good for them.

But I don’t care about anyone else. What about ME? Am I a Cyber Millenial? I get the feeling that Cyber Millenials are just yuppies who don’t want to be called yuppies, and wear ironic t-shirts instead of suits. I often wear ties, but I also have some very ironic t-shirts. (Some Japanese t-shirt designers can’t write in English as well as some American t-shirt designers? Hilarious!) I don’t think that gets me anywhere. I do own two Apple products, both aluminum, and that makes my liver nervous. But I don’t have internet at home, and if you say “QWERTY” around my phone, it just goes, “What?” That’s good, maybe.

I don’t have a gym membership, but I do have gym shorts.

I look for organic groceries, but I often wake up covered in Doritos.

I drive a hybrid car, but I litter constantly.

So, I don’t know… should I be concerned? What about y’all? Are you twittering, jogging, and blogging your way into alcoholism?

May
20
2008

Focus, kiddo: By about number 18, it can be difficult for mouth and glass to match up, but what are you? A quitter? A little kid?
Focus, kiddo: By about number 18, it can be difficult for mouth and glass to match up, but what are you? A quitter? A little kid?Courtesy ian boyd
You know, I’ve been thinking that maybe it’s time I get a PhD. I can’t see a downside to it: I could hang the certificate in my kitchen, maybe look into a professorship, and—until I get knighted—Doctor Gordon has a nice ring to it.

I was concerned for some time that there might be too much work and original thought required (I don’t enjoy either), but certain evidence makes me think that that might not be a huge factor.

Anyway, maybe I’ll sleep on it.

In other news, it turns out that boys and girls drink too much on their 21st birthdays.

Whoa! I screwed that up! What I meant to say was: Buckle up, Buzzketeers, because we now know that young people binge drink immediately after binge drinking becomes a legal option!

How could we possibly know this? Because if we know one thing about drunks, it’s that they are quiet and they keep to themselves. So how do we know? No, you’re wrong. We know because researchers at the University of Missouri figured it out. They cracked the code! Feel free to read this multiple times at your own pace, but the findings basically break down as follows: 1) Many college students drink to excess on their 21st birthdays; and 2) This can potentially jeopardize their health.

“This study provides the first empirical evidence that 21st birthday drinking is a pervasive custom in which binge drinking is the norm,” says the study’s lead author, a PhD holder. “This is my chair,” she continued. “I can sit on it, as can other people, assuming I am not already occupying it. Over here is the refrigerator, which keeps food cold. As you can see, many perishable items can be stored within the “fridge” for an extended period of time—hey, why didn’t the little light come on? Oh, I see, the little light bulb is burned out.”

Of the students surveyed, 34 percent of men and 24 percent of women reported consuming 21 alcoholic beverages or more on their 21st birthdays. The maximum number of drinks for women was 30, and 50 for men—awfully impressive, in a 21-year-old alcoholic kind of way. I don’t think I could drink 50 shots of water. But, were I drinking dozens of shots of water, I could probably be relied upon to count them accurately. And I would, because that’s something I would brag about.

Dude, I drank so much last night. Like, I need a new filter for my water pitcher. I was peeing for, like, hours.

May
12
2008

Monitoring consumption: By strapping this Scram device on someone's leg, officials can monitor the alcohol intake of offenders. Is this a good idea?
Monitoring consumption: By strapping this Scram device on someone's leg, officials can monitor the alcohol intake of offenders. Is this a good idea?Courtesy Alcohol Monitoring Systems
There’s a new tool for justice officials to use in dealing chronic alcohol abuser: the Scram. Scram stands for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor.

It was recently featured in a medical column in the New York Times. Judges hoping to put some more death in the sentence for those involved with alcohol-related crimes order the convicted to wear a Scram on their leg for a prescribed amount of time along with a program of recovery treatment. The Scram senses the body’s intake of any alcohol by measuring air and perspiration emissions from the skin each hour. At least once every 24 hours, the wearer must download data the Scram has collected to a modem that reports the wear’s alcohol levels to a monitoring agency or probation officer. Should Scram show a level of alcohol use, which the sensors can gauge to within a blood-alcohol level of 0.02, authorities will follow up with the offender to see what happened.

In the time that the Scram has been used, authorities report that there’s been a high compliance rate among people not drinking. But occasionally there are misreads or misreports.

Consuming some types of baked goods, such as raisin bread or sourdough English muffins, have triggered Scrams to report alcohol use by an offender. And being an electronics-based device, malfunctions can occur.

On user of the device included in the Times story had two consecutive days of his Scram reporting alcohol use several months into wearing the device. A wary probation officer gave him the benefit of the doubt when he strongly denied any drinking, and further review found that a build up of sweat and grime under the Scram was causing the false alarms.

So what do you think? Is this a good use of technology to help people get over alcohol misuse? Proponents of Scram say that it helps enforce sobriety while the offender has time to learn and work a program of recovery. But is this an infringement of a person’s right to privacy? Does an alcohol offender give up some of his/her rights to privacy? How long should someone sentenced to wear a Scram have to wear the device? Are there better ways for dealing with this? Share your ideas here with other Science Buzz readers.