Avoiding Binge-Drinking Trends in Austin
Do you remember your first drink? How about the first time you ever were drunk? Were you with your friends? Were you in high school? College?
There are many different stories to be told from Americans and their first experiences with alcohol. Many see it growing up in their homes, and quite a few do not learn about alcohol until later in their teen years when they come directly in contact with it at a party with friends.
More often than not, we remember that first time we got drunk because it was a feeling like none other felt before. But do we remember the times after that? The fifth time? The 20th time? Those three times last week?
Drinking in moderation is a common thing in the United States. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), in 2019, 85.6 percent of Americans had drank alcohol at some point in their life. Of those same people, 69.5 percent drank in the past year.
Sometimes, life’s challenges lead us to want more though. In 2019, 25.8 percent of Americans reported that they binge-drank at least once in the past month. A total of 14.5 million people in the United States have Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).
With numbers this high, we all know someone that suffers day in and day out with their alcohol consumption.
Maybe it is your cousin Jeff who is drinking a fifth of vodka each and every day and having his physical health deteriorate. Perhaps it is your friend from high school, Lisa, that is drinking wine at a rate that is landing her in trouble with drinking and driving.
Maybe you’re having 10-12 beers a night — and that someone is you.
Why Do We Drink?
As mentioned earlier, there are countless stories about the first time we tried alcohol. However, research has found that on average, the first time we consume alcohol is around 16.2 years old for a female and 15.4 years old for a male.
An interesting note about alcohol use is that the reasons we try alcohol for the first time, are not often the reasons we keep drinking. Most times when someone drinks alcohol for the first time, it begins with curiosity and social pressures from peers.
After that first taste, the reasons shift to more common thoughts. We want to get away, we want to feel better, we want to relieve stress, and/or we just want to have a good time with our friends and socialize.
Alcohol is known to have euphoric effects on our brains with moderate consumption. It causes consumers to feel happier, more sociable, free, and less stressed. Scans have shown that alcohol releases endorphins that leave us feeling pleasure.
Again, in the United States alcohol is part of the culture. For centuries, we have gathered to share drinks and stories with one another as an acceptable means of socializing. Even during the age of prohibition, from 1920-33, groups would gather in more hidden places to share alcoholic drinks.
Today, according to industry researchers at IBISWorld, there are more than 59,000 bars and nightclubs in the United States.
In Texas, you do not need to go far to find your share of alcohol.
Texas Has The Nightlife To Keep You Going
It is no secret that Austin, Texas is a booming city. Many consider it to be the fastest growing city in the country, and that comes by no surprise.
With many features including being the “Live Music Capital of the World,” Austin offers residents a lot. This includes a bustling nightlife scene that has left Austin ranked as one of the top cities for alcohol consumption in America according to multiple studies from dating websites, research firms, and more.
Austin is located in Travis County, which statistics show has a binge-drinking rate of 25%.
Austin is not alone in excessive alcohol use in Texas, however. According to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than 5.3 million Texans older than 12 years old had a period of binge-drinking within the past month of the time of the survey in 2017. This equates to 1 in every 6 individuals.
Unfortunately, the excessive use has led to many lives being lost in Texas. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have studied and found that an average of 6,514 deaths occur annually in Texas due to excessive drinking. Those deaths average out to 199,618 years of potential life lost.
Why Does Austin Consume So Much Alcohol?
Sara Buckler is the Vice President of Clinical Services and Admissions at Shadow Mountain Recovery in Spring Branch just outside of Austin, where she sees many clients entering treatment coming from Austin.
“There is so much offered in Texas across the board, but in Austin there is so much in terms of nightlife,” Buckler said. “We have a huge nightlife scene in the area because of so many events taking place. Between music festivals, sporting events tied to colleges in the area, and other things, there is a ton to offer if a person is looking to go out to bars and nightclubs.”
Live music and alcohol consumption go hand in hand according to statistical findings.Analysis from the Austin American-Statesman found that, in the most recent figures given, Travis County (Austin) sold more than $689 million in alcohol. That number does not include sales in grocery and liquor stores.
Travis County sold more than $410 worth of alcohol per person in bars, nightclubs, and restaurants. That is $112 more per person than the second highest total in Texas.
In the 78701 ZIP code — that includes the Sixth Street Entertainment District of Austin — more than $1.5 billion worth of alcohol was sold in the past decade. This is more than a billion dollars more than the second highest zip code.
While these numbers are certainly elevated by tourism to Austin, they cannot possibly make up for the entire difference in the areas of Texas.
A possible reason for the rise in alcohol consumption and sales is the age demographic and colleges in the area.
Austin Earns An ‘A’ in College Life
South Central Texas is full of universities. Of course, the University of Texas is in Austin which plays into the nightlife scene and number of drinks consumed in the city.
Buckler explains that in Austin, UT is part of the nightlife and the nightlife is part of UT.
“The University definitely plays into the nightlife and drinking in Austin,” Sara Buckler said. “Most of Austin’s nightlife is directly connected to the university in location. So, the nightlife in Austin definitely plays a role in creating a dangerous atmosphere for many, but especially the young adult and college-aged population.”
A 2017 survey found that 72 percent of Texas college students had drank alcohol in the past year. The survey also found that 37 percent of male students and 34 percent of female students reported having more than five drinks in one sitting, at least once in the 30 days leading up to the survey.
Not only in Austin, but also the surrounding cities are full of young adults looking for a good time.
“We are kind of just a string of colleges in this area,” Buckler said. “We have a lot of kids at Texas State in San Marcos, UT in Austin, and Baylor in Waco. We have a ton of young adults in the area that keep the cities alive at night, and unfortunately in turn put themselves in danger of creating destructive habits.”
The Dangers of Binge-Drinking
It is no shock to read that binge-drinking is dangerous. The CDC outlines the dangers of binge-drinking and the associated health problems that can come from continuing to indulge in the practice.
- Violent behavior such has homicide, suicide, sexual assault, and abuse
- Unsafe sexual behaviors
- Unintentional injuries from possible car accidents, falls, burns, and more
- Alcohol poisoning
- Unintended pregnancy
- Memory loss
- Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
- Chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, or liver disease.
- Alcohol use disorder
“Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol in a short time period is the common definition of binge-drinking,” Buckler said. “Taking part in binge-drinking is incredibly dangerous if it is a common thing in your life. You risk addiction starting and causing long-term damage to your body, but you also are at a high risk of short-term danger with your inhibitions being lessened. You’re at risk of making a choice to drink and drive or maybe even try different substances.”
Creating a Safer and Healthier Austin
While Austin continues to grow and the nightlife scene continues to thrive, it is important to know and see that there are individuals, groups, and organizations out there delivering help to those that may need it.
“Sobriety is a big deal in Austin,” Buckler said. “While Austin is a party town, which is ironic, there is also a large sober population. But because of the nightlife, we find ourselves with a lot of people that struggle with relapse in the community. When the city offers so many options to drink it is hard to stay sober in Austin, but when you plug yourself into the right group, it is possible to achieve long-term sobriety in this city.”
Finding that helpful group in Austin is possible for those that want it according to Buckler.
“There are a ton of mental health and substance use resources in Austin,” Buckler said. “For the kids at these schools in the area though, there are even more,” Buckler said. “The universities do a great job at offering help to students with treatment while they remain in school if it reaches that point. It is good for them to know though, that if it goes beyond that, there is even more help out there in terms of treatment.”
When You’re Ready, Shadow Is There
Shadow Mountain Recovery has four locations, with one being in Ripple Ranch. When entering a Shadow Mountain Center, you may feel like you’re stepping into the deep end and fear where this change to your lifestyle may take you, but the professionals at the treatment center are prepared to take you in and guide you with comforting treatment that you deserve.
We use evidence-based treatments such as activity-based therapy (ABT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). By offering this, we give you the ability to focus on the reactions you have to certain situations, such as moments of craving. With the knowledge of your reactions in the future, you will have the tools to change your behaviors and responses.
One of the key responsibilities to the community for Shadow Mountain is to simply let Texans know there is help at their centers.
“It is important for everyone to know that help is out there, especially here in Texas,” Buckler said. “It is important to not let others give up on themselves, and to let everyone know that there are options out there that can be designed just for them to reach recovery. More than anything, Texans take care of one another. We are a proud culture and proud of our roots and we step up to help each other when the time comes.“
It is the goal of Shadow Mountain to learn about each client and their story to treat their specific needs with the perfect form of treatment.
Call Shadow Mountain Today To Make A Change
Entering treatment is scary. After years of certain behaviors, making any change is difficult — especially one that has such control over our mental, physical, and emotional state.
Keeping up with a dangerous lifestyle of consistent binge-drinking will take its toll.
“The nightlife scene is fun, but how long can you carry on with the lifestyle before it becomes too much,” Buckler said. “That is the problem for the population of vibrant cities like Austin, or even like Dallas or San Antonio. How long can you keep up the party before your life becomes affected in a negative way from excessive use?”
It is important to know when and where to make the call when you’re ready for the leap to reach recovery. Call us today at (855) 266-3954 to learn more about alcohol addiction for yourself or your loved one.
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