Every year the website “The Daily Beast’ compiles a list of America’s drunkest cities. In 2010 Seattle ranked 30 out of 40 cities. The rankings take into account alcoholic beverage sales per capita, demographics (presumably 12-year-olds aren’t drinking as much as 21-year-olds) and illness stats from the federal Centers For Disease Control.
The list of cities can be found here.
The magazine “The Atlantic” has published a different take on this topic: a first-hand account by a Boston rehab hospital doctor who’s specialty is traumatic brain injury. So his Seattle equivalent would be a treating physician at Harborview Hospital. These doctors see a constant flow of people injured falling down their stairs, smashing their cars, wandering into traffic as they walk home, injuring themselves while working drunk. Many have head-injuries with all the most common symptoms:
- headaches (sometimes migraine)
- speech problems
- memory problems
- short tempered
- work loss
- work disability
- and on and on…
Dr. Voxs says Boston moved from 8th place in the 2010 rankings to number one in 2011. We’re not sure how. Doesn’t that seem like a huge leap? We’re also not sure if people in Boston think this is terrible, or just dandy.
Since the doctor’s experience covers scores of patients over several years, the anecdotal evidence is interesting:
1) While nationally, about 20% of auto accidents involve alcohol, Dr. Vox says 75% of traumatic brain injuries in Boston involved alcohol.
2) While many patients recover all or most of their pre-accident functionality, many aren’t able to stop drinking, so they return re-injured after their next accident.
3) Alcohol treatment programs are chock-full, and it’s sometimes difficult to get the brain-injured patient a slot in a program.
4) Intoxicated driving, and intoxicated work-related accidents are supplemented by drunken fighting and other causes of injury.
With Seattle considering extending our legal drinking hours past 2 a.m., and the State of Washington extending sales of liquor stores to mass merchandisers like Costco and Walgreens, are we due to move up in the rankings? If so, will that extend to traumatic brain injury as well?
Dr. Vox seems to think this is a “brain drain” as year-by-year more and more people disable themselves with not just alcohol comsumption, but with head-injury and its debilitating effects.
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