A POSITION STATEMENT FROM THE INTER-ASSOCIATION TASK FORCE ON ALCOHOL AND OTHER SUBSTANCE ABUSE ISSUES
August 11, 2000
Whereas, the Inter-Association Task Force on Alcohol and Other Substance Abuse Issues considers alcohol abuse to constitute a significant health risk for American college students,
And, accurate epidemiological information is necessary for describing the incidence and prevalence of alcohol related risk in order to develop cost effective measures of health promotion, risk reduction, and primary care,
And, both overestimating and underestimating the impact of alcohol use on college health is unacceptable and could harm our students.
Whereas, the term "Binge Drinking" is defined publicly by the Harvard School of Public Health as 5 or more (for males) or 4 or more (for females) alcohol servings in one sitting in a two week period,
And, by using this definition, large numbers of college students (at least 40% in most national surveys) are lumped into what is widely promoted as problematic and even dangerous behavior,
And, this definition is widely seen as too vague by professionals and students due to the fact that it does not give an accurate indication of intoxication levels, or risk factors such as the time during which the drinking occurs and the size of the person doing the drinking, or other physical and mental circumstances known to impact intoxication,
And, the media has been eager to widely publicize the term "Binge Drinking" to create a negative image of college students that simply is not supported by the facts,
Be it therefore resolved that, the Inter-Association Task Force encourages its 21 member associations, independent researchers and government agencies to:
1- Refrain from using the term "binge drinking" except as it is generally and historically used to denote a prolonged (usually two days or more) period of intoxication (BAC > or = to .08) that interferes with the student's ability to perform customary social and academic obligations and responsibilities. (This definition appears in "Recovery", the newsletter of the American Council on Alcoholism 10/98 and as an editorial in the Journal of Alcohol Studies.)
2- Use terms such as "high risk" and "harmful use" and "low risk" or "less harmful use" to describe a range of risk related to alcohol consumption looking at factors such as harm to self and/or others.
3- Use definitions that are objectively defined by health research data that account for weight, gender, quantity of alcohol, and frequency and duration of consumption. Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is a well-documented measure of risk already generally used in both health and legal professions.
4- Become familiar with epidemiological methods of determining student BAC (Objective measurement uses "breathalyzer" technology and subjective measurement uses self-report surveys and interviews.) and the epidemiological analysis of such data.
Passed by unanimous voice vote by Inter-Association Task Force on Alcohol and Other Substance Abuse Issues during their meeting on August 11, 2000.