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Experts warn of troubling rise in ‘high-intensity’ drinking

May 24, 2017

ADDICTION experts are noticing a disturbing drinking trend among college students and educated women. Binge drinking is already defined as having five or more drinks in a sitting. But researchers were surprised to learn many are actually drinking twice that amount: 10 in a sitting.

Minnesota’s Hazelden Betty Ford Institute calls it “high-intensity drinking,” and believe it’s a result of social norms.

College-educated women are more likely to participate now than in years past, according to Dr. Joe Lee at Hazelden.

“It may be that because they have more economic say and that they have some of the benefits and the pressures of being in the workforce that some of the fallouts that come with it are substance use,” Lee said.

But Dr. Lee said there are issues at all ages.

“There are subcultures within our society that accept this as just a part of life,” Lee said.

He warns that since alcohol is one of the most accessible and acceptable drugs, it often triggers problems that are now harder to recognize because of social norms.

“Some proportion of that population are at very high risk for developing alcoholism and having serious problems, the main issue is that they’re hidden under this normative culture of drinking and so they don’t get help until they have serious problems in their life,” Lee said.

And Lee points out those who engage in high intensity drinking are more likely to gravitate toward other substances.

Lee said not to focus on the amount of drinks but rather the warning signs:

  • Do you think about drinking?
  • Are you having withdrawal symptoms?
  • Have you noticed your tolerance going up?
  • Do you let go of priorities to drink?
  • Do your habits remain unchanged after a bad night out?

If so, Lee said it might be time to seek help.

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