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Super Bowl makes Sunday a dangerous day for at-risk drinkers

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As the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks take the field on Sunday, football fans around the country will drink over 50 million cases of beer. For those fans at-risk of problem drinking, Super Bowl celebrations can be dangerous, according to research released on January 30. Men prone to problem drinking consume more alcohol on Super Bowl Sunday than on other "drinking" days, report researchers from the University of Buffalo.

Researchers followed 200 adult men and women over a three year period. These adults were at-risk drinkers. For men at-risk drinking means consuming five or more drinks per day. Women are at-risk if they consume four or more drinks per day. Researchers concluded that male participants drank "considerably more" on all of the Super Bowl Sundays . Women showed an increase in the amount they drank on only one of the three Super Bowl Sundays.

“Our research shows that male at-risk drinkers report greater alcohol consumption on Super Bowl Sunday as compared to a typical Saturday, which is, on average, the heaviest drinking day of the week,” said Ronda Dearing, Ph.D., lead author of the study. “The potential for severe consequences associated with heavy drinking on Super Bowl Sunday, such as high rates of alcohol-involved traffic fatalities, indicates that this is an important public health concern that merits additional attention,” Dearing added.

If you are planning to celebrate this Sunday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers these safety tips:

  • Designate your sober driver or have an alternate transportation plan before the party begins.
  • Avoid drinking too much alcohol too fast. Pace yourself – eat enough food, take breaks, and alternate with non-alcoholic drinks.
  • If you don't have a designated driver, ask a sober friend for a ride home; call a cab, friend, or family member to come and get you; or just stay where you are and sleep it off until you are sober.
  • Use your community's sober ride program.
  • Never let a friend leave your sight if you think they are about to drive and have had too much to drink.
  • Always buckle up – it's still your best defense against other drunk drivers.

More safety tips for Super Bowl Sunday are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The study “Super Bowl Sunday: Risky Business for At-Risk (Male) Drinkers?" will be published in a future issue of Substance Use & Misuse.

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