DC
01/20/2012 04:22 pm ET

Mixologist Derek Brown Says CDC Binge Drinking Report 'Obscures Real Problem'

WASHINGTON -- A few weeks ago, a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shocked teetotalers everywhere when it announced that 38 million U.S. adults binge drink regularly, which is about one in six people.

D.C. drinkers were among the worst offenders with one of the highest rates around the country. But are the numbers what they seem? Owner of The Passenger bar and local mixologist Derek Brown says "no" in a recent article for The Atlantic.

In the piece, Brown details his own so-called binge-drinking habits, which on a recent evening involved seven drinks that included wine pairings at an area restaurant. Writes Brown:

The CDC tells us that binge drinking is a "bigger problem than previously thought," suggesting that it can (and often does) result in risky behavior, leading to violence, suicide, spread of sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy, car crashes, and alcohol dependence. They also insinuate that binge drinking causes crime. By their measure, binge drinkers rack up over 223 billion dollars annually.

But during my binge drinking session I didn't start a fight. I didn't engage in unprotected sex or infect anyone with a sexually transmitted disease. I didn't worry about becoming dependent on alcohol, crashing my car, or suicide. I didn't engage in crime. I just had a great time and then went to sleep.

It's misguided to demonize drinking in of itself, Brown continues. Rather, the CDC report and other fear-mongering studies should take a closer look at the quality of the drinking before jumping to any conclusions. Doing otherwise, Brown writes, "only obscures real problem uses of alcohol since, as a binge drinker, I seem to be doing just fine."

Among other dubious honors bestowed upon our fair city, in September The Daily Sip declared the District of Columbia first in wine consumption across the U.S. with 6.6 gallons consumed per capita according to 2009 data. Second place, Nevada, was more than a gallon behind, which the website credited to D.C. foreign embassies' often lavish entertaining budgets.

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