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American Adults Need to Address Drinking Habits and Their Subsequent Consequences

New Survey by Caron Treatment Centers Reports

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Poll finds 1 in 5 U.S. parents age 21+ with children under 18 at home have blacked out after drinking too much at a party; 1 in 3 U.S. adults age 21+ who drink at parties drove after consuming too much alcohol; 1in 3 U.S. adults age 21+ are comfortable with an 18-20 year old drinking at a family holiday party as long as they have only one glass/cup and are not driving

Wernersville, PA – December 8, 2014 – Many American adults lack accountability when it comes to alcohol use and have engaged in high-risk behavior around the holidays as a result of drinking too much, according to findings from a new national survey by Caron Treatment Centers.  The online survey, commissioned by Caron and conducted by Harris Poll among more than 2,000 U.S. adults age 18+, revealed that a majority (59%) of adults age 21+ who attend holiday parties and consume too much alcohol have engaged in potentially serious and dangerous behavior.

In fact, the majority of those who attend parties (87%) have witnessed someone who was “under the influence” at a party arguing with others (68%), using excessive profanity (59%), flirting inappropriately (57%),  becoming physically aggressive (56%), engaging in sexual activity (33%), or posting inappropriate comments or photos on social media (19%).

Of adults 21+ who have ever behaved inappropriately when drinking too much at a party (meaning that they engaged in one or more of a set of behaviors offered in the poll), 69% percent were hung over and 36% reported feeling embarrassed about their behavior. But fewer than one in five (17%) said they were concerned about their behavior.

Some of the most concerning statistics pertain to parents with children under the age of 18 living at home. Of parents age 21+ who attend and drink at parties, one in four (26%) admit to driving home from a party after drinking too much. One in five (21%) have blacked out and couldn’t remember anything after drinking too much at a party. Alarmingly, of parents age 21+ who attend parties and have ever behaved inappropriately when drinking too much at a party, fewer than one in five (17% ) felt concerned and some were even happy (11%).

“Alcohol is still one of the deadliest drugs in our society,” said Doug Tieman, Caron’s President and CEO. “Our culture has normalized substance abuse to the extent that many people don’t perceive significant consequences as cause for concern even though they can indicate serious problems. Many of the unintended victims, of course, are our children. We all need to be accountable for our behavior. But, if you are an alcoholic – it’s unlikely that you can change your behavior without significant help. You will need support to develop the skills and tools to lead a happy and productive life without alcohol.”

The Majority of Adults Have Seen Someone Drink and Drive After a Holiday Party

Every day in the United States nearly 30 people die in motor vehicle crashes caused by an alcohol-impaired driver, amounting for one death every 51 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Despite significant public efforts to educate people about the dangers of drinking and driving, Caron’s survey revealed more than half of adults who attend parties (55%) have seen someone drive even though they appeared to be impaired by alcohol and nearly one in three adults 21+ who drink at parties (32%) admit they’ve driven after drinking too much. Surprisingly, two in five (40%) adults 65+ who drink at parties admit to driving after drinking too much (compared to 21% of 21-34 year olds). That statistic is even scarier when AAA reports that millions more people will take road trips during the holidays this year.

Nearly Half of Parents of Children Under the Age of 18 Say It Is Acceptable for 18-20-year-olds to Drink One Glass of Alcohol at Family Parties If They Aren’t Driving

Though illegal, the poll found that nearly half (48%) of parents with children under the age of 18 living at home say it’s acceptable for 18-20 year olds to drink at least one glass of alcohol at a family holiday party if they are not driving.

  • 36% of parents with children under the age of 18 living at home said it’s acceptable for 18-20 year olds to drink one glass/cup of alcohol at a family holiday party if they are not driving
  • One in ten (12%) parents with children under the age of 18 living at home agree that it is acceptable for an 18-20 year old to drink any amount at a family holiday party if they are not driving

“Serving alcohol to minors is not only illegal, but sends a permissive message and can lead to serious and even deadly consequences,” said Dr. Harris Stratyner, PhD, Regional Clinical Vice President of Caron Treatment Centers in New York. “It’s never safe for an underage person to drink, even when ‘supervised,’ as drinking puts them at risk for emotional, physical, and psychological problems. Drinking at a young age may also cause brain, liver, and growth problems, and make someone more likely to develop an addiction later in life.”

Many Americans Don’t Understand Alcoholism

The survey revealed people have misperceptions about alcoholism. These beliefs can have devastating implications. If people do not recognize their addicted family member or friend has a legitimate health issue, that person may not get the help he or she needs. This could lead to life-altering consequences for the individual and their family.

  • 37% (more than one in three) of adults believe most alcoholics cannot hold down a full-time job.
  • Over seven in ten (72%) U.S. adults agree that most alcoholics drink every day.
  • One in ten (10%) U.S. adults strongly agree with the statement: “Alcoholics could stop drinking if they wanted to, but they lack the willpower.”

Many people are high-functioning alcoholics and hold full-time positions of power where they excel in the workplace or other aspects of their lives. Alcoholics also do not necessarily drink every day.  Likewise, the American Psychiatric Association defines alcoholism as a chronic and progressive disease and it must be managed as one. Alcoholism is not the result of poor willpower or a person’s character. These misperceptions hold families hostage by yielding destructive consequences that could be prevented in some cases by awareness, education, and treatment.

“With the popularity of social media and frequent use of mobile video/photo uploads, it’s important to recognize that any person’s actions while under the influence could be seen by a wide net of people,” said Dr. Stratyner. “The consequences can impact lives both personally and professionally.”

While the holidays are a time for celebration and enjoying time with family and friends, it’s important that adults are aware of the dangers of alcohol use and make the healthiest decisions in order to keep themselves and others safe. However, those who have a problem with alcohol and are no longer capable of making healthy decisions cannot recover without the proper support and tools. For more information and to learn more about alcohol abuse visit or follow us on Twitter: @CaronTreatment.

About Caron Treatment Centers

With 60 years in the field, Caron Treatment Centers operates lifesaving treatment at residential facilities in Wernersville, Pennsylvania. Caron also operates Caron Ocean Drive and Caron Renaissance in Palm Beach County, Florida. Caron’s regional offices in Atlanta, Boston, New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, DC offer community and recovery support. Caron has the most extensive continuum of care including teens, young adults, adults, and older adults. Caron’s treatment is customized to meet the needs of individuals and families – with highly trained teams prepared to address co-occurring disorders. Caron offers an innovative approach to ongoing recovery care support for its former patients and their families during the first year of transition following discharge. The online recovery support connects patients and families with peer groups and a Caron Recovery Specialist. For more information on Caron please visit Caron online or follow us on Twitter @CaronTreatment.


This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Caron Treatment Centers between November 10 - 12, 2014 among 2,010 U.S. residents ages 18 and older (although several questions were asked only to those age 21+ [1,968 respondents] due to the topic of alcohol consumption).  Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted, where necessary, to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.  Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. 

Media Contact:

Caron Treatment Centers
Karen Pasternack