Does Living Closer to the Bar Increase Your Risk of Alcohol Abuse?

A recent Finnish study suggests that people who live close to businesses that serve alcohol are more likely to develop behaviors considered risky compared to those who are far removed from such establishments.

Medical News Today said in a recent article that the study analyzed data recorded over an eight-year period beginning in 2000. The Finnish National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health’s alcohol license register showed that 78,000 people completed a survey that showed those who live within .6 miles of a bar had a 13 percent higher chance of abusing alcohol than those who lived farther .6 miles from such an establishment.

Interestingly, when a person moved from a location far from a bar to one that is closer, they had a 17 percent likelier chance of indulging in risky alcohol use. Similarly, when a person moved farther away from a bar, their chances of abusing alcohol reduced by 17 percent.

It is thought that this research, involving the geographical location to the nearest "watering hole," is the first of its kind. However, it’s also drawn some criticism as the reasons for drinking often have a lot more to do with proximity to a bar.

According to the study, a heavy drinker is a man who drinks 10 ounces of distilled alcohol a week and woman who drinks seven ounces. Most health officials don’t condone drinking distilled spirits, but as a rule, having two glasses of wine per night is not thought to be unhealthy in the U.S., but according to the Finnish study, would be risky behavior.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, moderate drinking includes having two drinks daily for men and one drink daily for women. Heavy drinking is the consumption of more than two drinks daily for men, and more than one drink daily for women.

The abuse of alcohol results in social problems, issues with work performance, and health problems including cancer and cardiovascular issues.