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'Denver has a drinking problem,' health department warns after new binge drinking data

Posted at 1:05 PM, May 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-29 15:05:55-04

Denver has a drinking problem, according to the city health department.

Data released by Denver Public Health this month showed that more than one in four Denver adults – 27 percent – binge drink. Binge drinking is considered to be five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women over about two hours, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“Most of us use alcohol – we’re very familiar with it, hence we don’t see it,” Dr. Bill Burman, executive director of Denver Public Health, said in a news release for the report. “But let me be clear: Denver has a drinking problem.”

Denver's binge drinking rate exceeded those in other peer cities, including Las Vegas, Seattle, Salt Lake City and Austin, according to the report, the Denver Post reported. Denver Public Health attributed the drinking rate here to a "culture of alcohol" and low alcohol taxes in Colorado. The state ranks 39th in wine taxes, 46th in beer taxes and 47th in taxes on spirits, the report said.

Denver Public Health also broke down data showing how alcohol contributed to emergency room visits and car crashes:

 About 30,000 people came to the Denver Health emergency room for a substance-abuse related issue; of those, the leading cause (36 percent) was alcohol abuse, according Denver Health data.

 Another 16,708 people or 46 per day were admitted to Denver CARES, a community-based, non-medical detoxification unit, for public intoxication with alcohol.

• Some 38 percent of fatal motor vehicle crashes in Denver involved alcohol, a relatively high proportion compared with other urban areas, according to national transportation statistics.