States, government taking action
During this holiday season, state and local governments are gearing up for a predictable surge in drunken driving and emergency room visits related to binge drinking.
Little has changed when it comes to America's alcohol problem, with one exception: substantially more women are drinking compared to a decade ago, and a higher percentage of them are binge drinking.
Because women are more vulnerable to the damaging health effects of alcohol than men, and because drinking during pregnancy can have devastating effects on a fetus, the federal government and some states have made the growing trend a top public health priority.
According to Dr. George Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, "the harms associated with alcohol use in women escalate more quickly, affecting women at an earlier age than men, and the damage tends to be more severe."
For decades, states have attempted to suppress drinking among men and women of all ages by levying alcohol excise taxes, regulating the number of restaurants and bars that sell alcohol, holding retailers accountable for harms resulting from selling alcohol to minors, and placing limits on the days and hours alcohol can be sold with some success.