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Now, Let's Toast the Recession!

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Has the recession driven Americans to drink? Or have they been drinking less to save money? Preliminary federal data for the first nine months of 2008 show an uptick in self-reported binge drinking.

In data gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January-September 2008, 21.3 percent of adults reported downing five or more drinks in a day on at least one occasion within the prior year. That's up from 20.4 percent in 2007 and from a recent low of 19.1 percent in 2003 and 2004.

As usual, men were the chief practitioners. In the 18-24 age bracket, 41 percent of men and 26 percent of women reported having had at least one five-drink day in the prior year. Among those age 25-44, 40 percent of men and 18 percent of women said so. The pattern was even more pronounced among the 45-64s (25 percent of men, 9 percent of women) and those 65-plus (9 percent of men, 2 percent of women).