Brown County binge drinking exceeds statewide rate


November 19, 2014

GREEN BAY Adults in Brown County binge drink more than those in other parts of the state, which was ranked highest in the nation for alcohol gorging, according to a new survey.

The 2014 Brown County Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance Survey found 38 percent of Brown County adults said they have participated in binge drinking in the past 30 days. Comparable studies conducted last year determined 35 percent of adults in Wisconsin and 32 percent of adults nationwide binged at least once.

Binge drinking means a person consumed five or more drinks in one day, the Press-Gazette Media ( ) reported.

A 2013 Health First Wisconsin report determined excessive drinking amounts to an annual cost of $318 million, 40 percent of which is shouldered by taxpayers. That same report ranked Wisconsin as the No. 1 state in the nation for binge drinking and intensity of drinking.

"We know from working in the county that we certainly have a very big issue," said Brown County Health Officer Judy Friederichs.

The 2014 BRFFS survey discovered high rates of frequent drinking, as well as higher rates among young adults. Twelve percent of Brown County adults binged five or more times in the past 30 days, compared to 9 percent statewide and 8 percent nationwide. Fifty-nine percent of Brown County adults ages 18-24 said they drank excessively at least once in the past 30 days.

"I think it is a (practice) that has always been a part of the culture here_that alcohol consumption is considered engrained in the fabric of the community," said Barbara Coniff, director of Libertas Treatment Center in Green Bay.

But the survey also indicates a significant number of county residents drink responsibly or don't drink at all, she said. It found more than one-third of people surveyed haven't consumed alcohol in the past 30 days, and 64 percent who said they had only reported having a drink or two.

"Good for you. You're finding ways to be healthy and be responsible in your consumption," Coniff said.

Although the survey is conducted regularly at both state and national levels, this is the first time it's been done in Brown County. The county's survey entailed 400 phone calls with adults to collect data on eating habits, sleep patterns, physical activity and other factors related to health.


Associated Press