According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), around 18% of Americans report excessive, or binge drinking. Studies show that number is lower in Chattooga County.
The CDC defines excessive drinking as four or more drinks on a single occasion for women and five or more for men — and heavy drinking, or eight or more drinks per week for women and 15 or more for men.
The latest statistics were gathered in 2016 and show that Chattooga County actually falls below the national average when it comes to excessive drinking. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s “County Health Rankings”, sixteen percent of Chattooga County residents report excessive or binge drinking.
In the short term, excessive drinking can increase the likelihood of violence, risky sexual behavior, alcohol poisoning and injuries. The potential long term effects of excessive alcohol consumption include depression, anxiety, alcohol dependence and social problems. Long-term excessive drinking can also lead to chronic diseases, including certain cancers, liver disease and heart disease.
The legal sale of alcohol in Chattooga County has seen quite a few changes over the past decade. Menlo is the only municipality in Chattooga County that outright bans the sale of any type of alcohol and Lyerly has the only liquor store in the county. County voters went to the polls this year and voted to allow the sale of alcohol on Sundays. But does the relaxing of alcohol restrictions lead to more drinking? It may be too soon to tell.