Counselors say that if you suspect you have a drinking problem, then you probably do. Well, Nebraska, pull up a stool and let these facts soak in. A new study shows Nebraska is the No. 9 heaviest drinking state in America. The rating is based on the percentage of people who drink, how much they drink and how many drink to get drunk.
Experts label drinking to get drunk as “binge drinking,” and according to the study by SafeHome.com, the home security company, the percentage of Nebraskans who are drinkers — 63.6 percent — ranks 11th nationally. However, 31.5 percent of Nebraskans are binge drinkers, and that ranks seventh nationally.
Remember, binge drinking doesn’t mean having a friendly toast with friends. It’s drinking to get drunk, and that distinction is important because of the bad things that can happen to drunk people.
Unlike folks who share a friendly drink and stop, binge drinkers go for the buzz. They want to feel impaired. It’s at that point when drinkers have put themselves in danger — and maybe others.
Considering that Nebraska ranks seventh nationally for binge drinking, that could mean we’re more likely to be sharing the road with drunk drivers. Or that a co-worker who called in sick isn’t really sick, he’s sleeping off a hangover. When they’re drunk, some folks are prone to bad judgment and misbehavior, and that can lead to unprotected sex, violence, fights between spouses and other things we might regret the next morning.
Drinking can land you in jail. Wyoming has the highest alcohol-related arrest rate: 1,419 per 100,000 people. Our you could wind up at the morgue. New Mexico has the highest alcohol-related death rate, 31.5 per 100,000 people.
So really, how bad is Nebraska’s drinking problem?
Here’s the most worrisome statistic: From 2008 to 2017, the number of Nebraska adults who drink rose by 9.7 percent. That’s No. 1 nationally.
What is it that’s driving up Nebraska’s percentage? Could it be lax attitudes about alcohol? Maybe. Perhaps it’s cultural. People sometimes drink to fit in and be accepted. Stress might be a factor. The farm economy is struggling, or we have relationship or money problems.
Whatever the reason, if you look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Could I have a drinking problem?” You probably know the answer.