High Risk Drinking

High Risk Drinking Defined

Underage Drinking: Any use of alcohol by youth who are under age 21

Binge Drinking: 5+ drinks in 2 hours for males; 4+ drinks in 2 hours for females

Heavy Drinking: Exceeds 2 drinks per day for males; Exceeds 1 drink per day for females

[title size=”2″]Good News/Bad News[/title]

Good News about underage drinkingThe use of alcohol in our society has a long and storied history. Here in Deschutes County, we have recently started to experience some economic benefits of and national accolades from the successes of our alcohol industry.

Along with this growth, we must maintain our commitment to fostering the legal and safe use of alcohol – especially where our youth are concerned.

Our shared future is not only tied to the strength of our local economic drivers, it is dependent on the health, productivity, academic achievement, and success of our young people.

When we look at health and behavior data for Oregon and Deschutes County, we see both GOOD NEWS and BAD NEWS.

[title size=”2″]Here’s the bad news first:[/title]

  • Oregon’s death rate from alcohol–induced disease is 80% higher than the US rate.*
    • Oregonians die from alcohol–induced disease in their early to mid–fifties.*
  • Between 2000 and 2007, Oregon’s chronic liver disease rates increased by 29.5%.  In contrast, the mortality rate for the U.S. declined by 4.2%.*
    • 80% of all chronic liver disease deaths in Oregon were due to alcohol.*
  • Adult heavy alcohol use in Oregon is higher than the US rate.*
  • Oregon per capita alcohol consumption is 12% higher than the US rate.*
  • Underage drinking COSTS Oregon

[fontawesome icon=”download-alt” circle=”no” size=”medium”]Underage Drinking in Oregon: The Facts

*SOURCE: Oregon State Incentive Grant Plan, June 2011. Oregon Health Authority, Addictions and Mental Health Division.

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These long-term health consequences are startling – especially in a State where we value our health and an active lifestyle. Most Deschutes County residents describe our local culture as valuing health, fitness and an outdoor lifestyle. Our reality, however, reveals a disconnect between these values and the consequences of our alcohol consumption.

Deschutes County data reveals both immediate consequences of the misuse of alcohol, as well as concerning data about the behavior of our school-aged youth.

  • Between 2006–2010, there were 89 motor vehicle fatalities in the County – 41 of these fatalities involved alcohol (DUII Data Book for Oregon Counties, Oregon Dept. of Transportation).
  • The City of Bend recently determined that Bend had a higher amount of speeding and DUII types of crashes than the comparison communities of Springfield, Medford and Corvallis (Multimodal Traffic Safety Program 2012–14)
  • Local law enforcement partners report that calls-for-service and crimes committed in Deschutes County often involve alcohol (Deschutes County SPF-SIG Needs Assessment, February 2012).
  • Rates of 30-day alcohol use among youth in both 8th and 11th grades are statistically significantly higher than the State averages (2012 Student Wellness Survey).
  • Rates of binge drinking among youth in both 8th and 11th grades are statistically significantly higher than the State averages (2012 Student Wellness Survey).
  • The percentage of 11th graders who report driving when they had been drinking alcohol is statistically significantly higher than the State average (2012 Student Wellness Survey).

[fontawesome icon=”download-alt” circle=”no” size=”medium”]  2012 Student Wellness Survey results

Research has shown that youth who start drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependency later in life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Alcohol use by persons under age 21 years is a major public health problem. Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States, more than tobacco and illicit drugs, and is responsible for more than 4,700 annual deaths among underage youth. Although drinking by persons under the age of 21 is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 years drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States. More than 90% of this alcohol is consumed in the form of binge drinks. On average, underage drinkers consume more drinks per drinking occasion than adult drinkers. In 2010, there were approximately 189,000 emergency rooms visits by persons under age 21 for injuries and other conditions linked to alcohol.” CDC Facts Sheet – Underage Drinking



[title size=”2″]GOOD NEWS![/title]

We can take action!

One piece of good news is this:  because we in Deschutes County value our health, we CAN make decisions as a community to foster that health – we can use this shared value as a rallying point to take aim at these negative short and long–term health consequences.

A safe, healthy and prosperous community is fostered by its residents! Already, a diverse array of community stakeholder has come together to form this coalition and commit to work together to leverage their resources for the benefit of the entire community.

Most Don’t Abuse Alcohol

Even with data which causes justifiable concern, it is important to remember that MOST of our population, both youth and adults, DON’T abuse alcohol. As a community, we must increase awareness of the positive, healthy, safe and legal choices which our citizens make on a daily basis. Our own perceptions of “normal” behavior can impact our actual behavior as a community. Underage and binge drinking IS NOT THE NORM.

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  • Less than 25 percent of 8th graders report drinking one drink in the past 30 days (2012 Student Wellness Survey). That means more than 75% did not drink alcohol AT ALL.
  • Between 2001 and 2012, MOST 11th graders on average did NOT drink alcohol AT ALL in the past 30 days (Deschutes County’s Epidemiological Data on Alcohol, Drugs and Mental Health 2000–2012).  [checklist]


  • Between 2006–2009, MOST adults, 18 years of age and older, did NOT binge drink (88 percent of females and 82 percent of males reported NOT binge drinking – Deschutes County’s Epidemiological Data on Alcohol, Drugs and Mental Health 2000–2012).[checklist]



Prevention Works!

  • Since 2008, Deschutes County’s rates of 8th grade 30–day alcohol use have declined from 34 percent to 24 percent.
  • Since 2008, Deschutes County’s rates of 8th grade binge drinking have declined from 15 percent to 11 percent.
  • Success using comprehensive and proven prevention practices can be seen across the nation.



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