Binge drinking, especially among teens, just keeps getting worse. The habit, which already costs Americans billions, has become such a problem here that it is hurting our healthcare system! According to city records, drunks are now the fifth-leading cause of emergency room visits at public hospitals. Maybe it really is time, as one Southern education official argued in the Times yesterday, that we let 18-year-olds drink legally. After all, "If you infantilize someone, do not be surprised when infantile behavior—like binge drinking—results."

Despite an expensive anti-binging ad campaign from the Health Department, binge drinkers just keep on binging. The number of drinking-related ER visits has "skyrocketed citywide from 7,958 in 2007 to 15,620 in 2011, city records show."

"They just get so pissdrunk because they don't know how to drink. And then they wake up in the ER asking for their wallet," a veteran nurse at the Bellevue ER—where "the number of suds-soaked ER patients has shot up by 191%, from 1,659 in 2007 to 4,844 last year—told the News.

To be fair, the number of visits to city hospital rooms has also gone up quite a bit in the past few years (14 percent in five years, specificly) but still. A lot of this really could be solved by teaching young drinkers how to drink responsibly—something that it is very hard to do when they have to do it in secret. We're with University of the South's John M. McCardell Jr. on this one:

The simple solution is not to issue a one-size-fits-all federal mandate. The simple solution is to turn these responsibilities back to the states to be laboratories of experimentation and allow best practices to emerge. That can be accomplished by removing the provision in federal law that reduces highway funding for any state setting its age lower than 21.


Because really, the kids just aren't going to stop drinking. We can promise you that.