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Super Bowl Sunday: Risky business for at-risk drinkers?

Guys celebrating while watching football and drinking

New findings by the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) indicate that men who are prone to problem drinking are especially at risk on Championship Day.

By Cathy Wilde

Release Date: January 30, 2014

“The potential for severe consequences associated with heavy drinking on Super Bowl Sunday, such as high rates of alcohol-involved traffic fatalities, indicates that this is an important public health concern that merits additional attention.”
Ronda Dearing, PhD, senior research scientist
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. – In recent years, Super Bowl Sunday has become as synonymous with parties, food and alcohol as it is with football.

Although most everyone enjoys a good party, new findings by the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) indicate that men who are prone to problem drinking are especially at risk on Championship Day.

“Our research shows that male at-risk drinkers report greater alcohol consumption on Super Bowl Sunday as compared to a typical Saturday, which is, on average, the heaviest drinking day of the week,” says Ronda Dearing, PhD, senior research scientist at RIA and lead author of the study.

“At risk” drinking is defined as five or more drinks per day for men or four or more drinks per day for women.

The study followed nearly 200 adult men and women over a three-year period. The participants, at the start of the study, had been identified as reporting “hazardous and harmful alcohol use.”

In all three years, these at-risk men drank considerably more alcohol on Super Bowl Sunday than on typical Saturdays, whereas drinking by the at-risk women was significantly higher in only one of the three years.

“The potential for severe consequences associated with heavy drinking on Super Bowl Sunday, such as high rates of alcohol-involved traffic fatalities, indicates that this is an important public health concern that merits additional attention,” Dearing says.

“Celebratory drinking is well-documented among young adults, but little is known about the phenomenon beyond young adulthood. It is important that further study is undertaken to learn more about the risk factors and negative consequences of celebratory drinking among adults,” she says.

The study was supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the findings will appear in an upcoming issue of Substance Use & Misuse.

Co-authors of the article, “Super Bowl Sunday: Risky Business for At-Risk (Male) Drinkers?,” were Cheryl L. Twaragowski, behavioral specialist at the Springville City (N.Y.) School District; Philip Smith, PhD, and Gregory Homish, PhD, assistant professor of community health and health behavior in UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions; and Gerard J. Connors, PhD, and Kimberly S. Walitzer, PhD, of the Research Institute on Addictions.

RIA is a research center of the University at Buffalo (UB) and a national leader in the study of alcohol and substance abuse issues. RIA’s research programs, most of which have multiple-year funding, are supported by federal, state and private foundation grants. Located on UB’s Downtown Campus, RIA is a member of the dynamic Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and helps promote UB’s strategic focus on research initiatives. 

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