At least 7,440 adults in Dallas County drink too much and most of them are not alcoholics. Drinking too much includes binge drinking, daily drinking, and any alcohol use by pregnant women or by persons under age 21. Overuse of alcohol causes about 860 deaths among Iowa residents each year, and costs us about $3,161,000. For men, moderate drinking is two drinks per day, and for women one drink per day.

Oddly enough, only 1 out of 6 adults talk with their doctor about their drinking. This conversation is an important first step in addressing any potential problems with drinking habits. If you recently began taking medication or had other health changes, your doctor can advise you on whether to make changes in your drinking habits. If your doctor does not specifically ask you about your alcohol consumption, by all means, initiate the conversation yourself.

The health and social consequences of alcohol are numerous. Alcohol abuse is associated with financial, social, interpersonal and legal difficulties. Approximately one-quarter to one-third of Iowa traffic fatalities involved a driver who used alcohol.

As far as underage drinking, 28 percent of Iowans age 12 years and older reported binge drinking in the past month. Young people in Dallas County often remark that "there’s nothing to do" here. Please give them something healthful and interesting to do. If you mentor just one middle school or high school youth in your community, you could impact the lives of many others as well. Invite a young person to go fishing with you, plant a garden, ride bikes on the Raccoon Valley rec trail or teach them to bake. Get to know them, so that when they are faced with a decision about alcohol use, they can fall back on what they have seen you do.