Health Assessment

Dodge County trumps the state average in binge drinking.

JUNEAU – Binge drinking in Dodge County is significantly higher than the benchmark for Wisconsin and the nation, according to a recent report.

Dodge County Human Services and Health public health director Jody Langfeldt said the national benchmark is close to 3 percent for binge drinking.

“Dodge is like 30 percent of people that report binge drinking once in 30 days,” she said.

She said one of the things that blew her mind was the economic impact that excessive drinking has.

“The economic impact for Dodge County was $113.7 million a year,” she said. “That’s lost wages, productivity, it covers a lot of area, but that’s a boatload of money. We were $13.3 million over even Jefferson. It’s costing people in Dodge County. Every man, woman and child that lives in Dodge County, in some way or another, pays about $1,300 for excessive drinking in Dodge County.”

The 2013 Community Health Assessment defined binge drinking as more than four alcoholic beverages on a single occasion for women and more than five alcoholic beverages on a single occasion for men.

Heavy drinking was defined as more than one drink per day on average for women and more than two drinks per day on average for men.

“That’s a given definition, but that may not be what most people would define [excessive drinking as],” Langfeldt said. “That’s not to say that we should have a larger number of drinks being the definition. But I just think that for some people to go out and have a couple of drinks before dinner, a couple of drinks

after dinner, they would not consider that excessive drinking. But it’s the definition we have to live with when we’re looking at statistics.”

She said there has to some moderation involved in drinking.

“Wisconsin is a beer state,” Langfeldt said. “People tend to want to say that’s why the people from Wisconsin drink so much, is because of their heredity, their background, their Germanic heritage. That’s all well and good, and that’s something to be proud of, but to use it to justify an action that can have such consequences, there’s got to be a happy medium.”

She stated that excessive drinking can be involved in many bad decisions.

“How many times do you read in the paper that they believe that alcohol was involved in a particular accident or a particular incident that happens?” she asked. “Not just in Dodge, but all over. It’s incredible. I think that as people, we don’t tend to make the best decisions if we’ve been drinking. That’s just the way alcohol makes our systems work.”