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State on a Binge: Nebraska tops drinking statistics
When you get off work tonight you may go home or meet a friend and have a drink. But do you stop at 1 or 2? Statistically here in Nebraska, no. You'll keep going to 4 or 5 or even more.
Our state tops the national list of places with binge drinking problems
And Grand Island is one of the worst cities - 13th in the United States.
If you're surprised, that's part of the problem.
More than 20 percent of Nebraskans admit to not just cracking one cold one or even two, but 3 or four in a row. It's why the Cornhusker state ranks second in the nation for binge drinking.
"We're not talking necessarily about alcohol dependents. We're talking about binge drinking, which I think is something a lot of people do that don't have a problem with alcohol," said St. Francis Drug & Alcohol Treatment Center Director Brenda Miner.
The Center for Disease Control's definition is 4 or more drinks in 2 hours for a woman, 5 or more for a man.
"You know, people talk about they're going to go out to a party or they're going to go out drinking and they're talking about getting drunk, basically," Miner said.
The director of the St. Francis Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center says while the statistics sound sobering, they're apparently not. Nebraska's climbing every time the CDC puts out a report. And the problem's just getting worse.
"I think here in Nebraska we have a culture, just that drinking to intoxication is kind of a norm," said Miner. "And it's getting worse because it's getting more acceptable."
It's a trend the director of the Grand Island Substance Abuse Coalition says is being passed on through generations.
"I hear a lot of adults say I did it when I was younger and I'm still here, sot here's nothing wrong with it," said Stacie Collins, Grand Island Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition.
The coalition's mission is to educate and help prevent underage drinking starting with the parents.
But according to the CDC, they're the one's binge drinking in the first place.
"We're not against drinking, we're against irresponsible drinking."
The kind of drinking that leads to health problems, car crashes, violence and court costs," Collins said.
"Alcohol is probably one of the most dangerous drugs we have. That we see," Miner.
Miner says a lot of that has to do with our attitude toward drinking.
"You know we have made really good efforts to not serve underage drinkers and that has been pursued fairly well, but not for adults. I don't think anyone's really monitoring how much people are having in establishments at all," said Miner.
Looking at the Liquor Control Commission's website, it is against the law to serve a drink to a visibly intoxicated person.
The penalty for a first offense is 10 to 20 days, a fourth offense will cancel a bar's liquor license. But is that enough?
"We do a lot of education, but we need to step it up, and really take a look at what is it about Nebraska that we're so accepting of heavy drinking as a norm?" Miner said.
Is it our lack of laws?
Nebraska is one of just seven states in the nation without a dram shop law. That's a law that holds liquor establishments accountable for selling to obviously intoxicated customers who leave and cause death or injury to third party in an alcohol related crash.
"You don't want to be sitting in jail for a choice that you made because you weren't paying attention," said Collins.
The Coalition does offer server training, but it's not required Collins says a law could get servers' attention. But it has to get lawmakers' attention first.
Holdege Sen. Tom Carlson proposed an Alochol Accountability law last year, LB693, it went to committee and had a hearing. But it didn't make it to the floor. And if it doesn't become a priority bill it won't again this year either.
While some say our binge drinking rate could be because we don't have enough legislation preventing it others blame boredom, saying there's just not enough to do.
And as far as LB 693, proponents say it would make waiters think twice, but bar owners expressed concern to the legislative hearing that the law could lead to frivolous lawsuits against them.
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