At first glance, a study released this week includes what appears to be some chilling statistics regarding New Yorkers and their consumption of alcohol. For example, 42% of adult drinkers say they are binge drinkers. More than one in four of those surveyed under the age of 21 report drinking. And alcohol-related emergency room visits have increased to 74,000 from 22,000 just six years ago. Yikes, stripes! Except — wait. Let's look a little closer at these numbers: The definition of a "binge drinker" for the purposes of this study is someone who, once in the last month, had five or more drinks in a night. Does it really surprise you that there are a number of New Yorkers who fit that model?
Also, the Health Department believes that it's not actually heavy drinkers who usually end up going to the hospital, but rather "moderate drinkers who had too much to drink." As in, lightweights having the night of their lives. As in, tourists. And only 53 percent of New Yorkers are actually drinkers, compared to 56% of the nation as a whole. Maybe this isn't such bad news after all? We'll work on that emergency room number, and in the meantime, about those one-in-four coeds sneaking into bars and bodegas to get a drink ... Mind if we let that one slide for a bit?