Binge drinking identified as a problem among Tosa's adults

Nov. 15, 2011

"Wisconsin is No. 1 for binge drinking and Wauwatosa matches that," said Lori Nielsen, nursing supervisor with the city Health Department.

As the department nears the end of its data collection for the state-mandated Community Health Assessment, there are a few issues that already stand out. Heavy drinking is one of those, but this time the problem must be addressed with adults, Nielsen said.

Wauwatosa women are more likely to be heavy drinkers - have more than one drink per day - than either the state or nation.

Binge drinking is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as five drinks in one hour for men and four or more drinks in about a two-hour period for women.

In Tosa, 22 percent of adults said they consume enough alcohol to qualify as binge drinking at least once a month. That's slightly lower than the state rate of 23.9 percent.

Binge drinking and the medical and social issues it can bring aren't the only problems.

For instance, in a survey of Tosa youth, some respondents said they had been a passenger in a car with a driver that was under the influence of alcohol. It's entirely possible that that driver is a parent rather than a fellow teen, Nielsen said.

Other issues that will likely be addressed in the improvement plan are the needs for nutrition, physical activity, and a safe and healthy environment. People may be more surprised to see mental health on the list, Nielsen said.

People are concerned about stress and depression, and they're willing to talk about it on the level of community resources and problems facing youth. But when asked to speak about their own feelings or stress levels, "we've found that people are not willing to look in the mirror," she said.

A draft community improvement plan will likely be presented to the community for feedback in late spring.


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