Wait. Really? The CDC and hysteria about drinking

Over at MeFi there’s this link, which is funny and amusing. Why, the author wonders, does his binge drinking behavior (per the CDC) not result in violence or unprotected sex? After all, he might have 4 or 6 glasses of wine at any given dinner party!

The real money shot here, though, is in the comments to the MeFi post, which pointed out the CDC’s actual, by the numbers definition of “binge drinking,” which they actually take from the NIH:

Binge drinking is a common pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above.

It’s even on the definitions page at NIH.

Unless I’m reading this wrong, the CDC thinks you’re binging if you reach 0.08 percent BAL, or a level that is actually below the driving limit in many states — i.e., well before most people would consider you “drunk” in any sense other than “maybe shouldn’t drive.”

Seriously, really? So perhaps any wine tasting is a binge. Perhaps any afternoon of tailgating is a binge. Certainly any trip to a modern cocktail bar is a binge.

I have no doubt that alcohol can be a problem, and that the problem is magnified by extravagant drinking habits — but when I think of “extravagant drinking habits,” my mental picture is a bit beyond the guy who’s considering whether or not he should, legally, drive. The CDC and NIH do nobody any favors — except, perhaps, prohibitionist types like MADD, but that may be entirely the point.

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