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

Super bowl party

A study by the Research Institute on Addictions has found that men who are prone to problem drinking are especially at risk on Super Bowl Sunday.

By CATHY WILDE

Published January 30, 2014

“Celebratory drinking is well-documented among young adults, but little is known about the phenomenon beyond young adulthood.”
Ronda Dearing, senior research scientist
Research Institute on Addictions

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 UB’s 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, 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; 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 and Gregory Homish, assistant professor of community health and health behavior, UB School of Public Health and Health Professions; and Gerard J. Connors and Kimberly S. Walitzer of the Research Institute on Addictions.