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What You Don't Know Can Hurt You

I’m going a little bit off the reservation from the usual business topics with this post, but it’s an important subject and one that affects many families. 

The long-term effects of alcohol use, and its impact on everything from our health to our safety on the roads, are well documented.  Speaking personally, I know how toxic alcohol can be, which is why I no longer use it.

Still, I was startled to come across an article in U.S. News (read it here) noting that alcohol poisoning is responsible for six deaths in the United States every day.  That’s more than 2,200 Americans per year, mostly white males, and mostly in the 35-64 age range … so it’s not just binge drinking by college-age kids, although those are usually the cases that make the news.

The primary culprit, of course, is binge drinking, defined as five or more drinks in one sitting for male, or four for a female.  Why anyone would do that is a mystery to many of us, but the addictive effects of alcohol are well documented as well.

How many non-lethal (and unreported) cases of alcohol poisoning there are in a year is anyone’s guess. Needless to say, it’s not something most people will brag about having survived.  The numbers of those who will admit to binge drinking are startling enough: according to the CDC, more than 38 million Americans say they binge drink at least four times a month, exceeding the definition of the term with an average of eight drinks per sitting.

And despite what I said above, it is a business issue, at least in part.  We’ll probably never know just how much absenteeism, or how many workplace and traffic accidents, are the result of binge drinking and alcohol poisoning. 

For those of us watching from the sidelines, probably the best we can do is to look for the obvious warning signs and do our best to get those who are affected to seek help.  As company owners we have a large liability exposure when our employees are on the job – or driving to it – while recovering from impairment, but the larger issue really is seeing them get the support they need.

Mike Popowski is President of PBI Restorations.  Reach him at