Report: alcoholism rarer than assumed

Barry Lytton

That fifth full red cup of Natural Ice might not be as bad as you think.

Nine out of 10 heavy drinkers are not alcoholics, according to a report recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York Times.

Thanks to the report, which surveyed 138,100 adults from 2009-2011, the commonly uttered term “You’re not an alcoholic until you graduate,” might not hold much credence. In fact, you might not be an alcoholic at all – no matter your age or higher education status.

The common misdiagnosis of alcoholism may stem from a misunderstanding of binge drinking, which the CDC defines as having five or more drinks over two hours for men or four or more for women.

“Among those who reported binge drinking 10 or more times in the past month, more than two-thirds did not meet diagnostic criteria for alcohol dependence according to their responses to the survey,” the study said.

Though the study clarifies what it takes to be alcohol dependent, it does not condone binge drinking, whether one can be considered a booze-hound or not.

Excessive alcohol consumption causes 88,000 deaths annually and cost the U.S. $223.5 billion in 2006, according to the report.