Portrait of a Heavy Drinker

By Scott LaFee

September 9, 2020 6 min read

Two-thirds of U.S. adults reported consuming alcohol in 2018. Five percent were defined as "heavy drinkers." Here's what they look like:

They are equally divided among men and women. They consume 15 or more alcoholic beverages weekly. They tend to be between the ages of 45 and 64. They are two to three times more likely to be white, compared with other racial groups.

They are not happy, with a higher percentage saying they are regularly depressed, anxious or worried compared with lighter-drinking peers.

Do You Know Your Opioids?

Most people think they know the difference between an opioid and other drug types, but in a survey of 1,000 Americans, only 1 in 5 could recognize the names of seven commonly prescribed opioids: tramadol, hydromorphone, morphine sulfate, methadone, hydrocodone, fentanyl and oxycodone.

They also tended to misidentify six common non-opioid medications as containing opioids: hydrocortisone, hyaluronic acid, omeprazole, oxymetolazine, oxytocin and trazodone.

Body of Knowledge

Women have a stronger sense of smell than men. (Sorry, ladies.)

Get Me That, Stat!

Almost half of low-income neighborhoods in the United States have no intensive care unit beds in their area, according to new research published in the Health Affairs journal.


2: times more likely a person with a history of depression is to use cannabis daily or nearly every day than his or her peers

Source: JAMA Network Open

Stories for the Waiting Room

An apple a day can keep claustrophobia away. In a 1995 experiment, researchers found that smelling a green apple changed people's perception of space: Rooms felt larger than they were. The same thing happened with cucumbers. Conversely, the odor of barbecue smoke made a room seem smaller.

Doc Talk

Eructation: burping

Mania of the Week

Choreomania: a compulsion to dance

Never Say Diet

The Major League Eating speed-eating record for large cannoli is 34 in six minutes, held by Marcos Owens, apparently a gluten for punishment.

Best Medicine

A man visits an urgent care after experiencing symptoms of a heart attack.

"I had taken our cat to the vet," he tells the attending nurse, "and while I was there, my chest got tight; I had trouble breathing; and later, my left arm began aching."

The nurse looks at the man with great concern.

"What was wrong with the cat?"


"As soon as the hospital made me put on one of those little gowns, I knew the end was in sight." — comedian Adam Joshua Smargon

Medical History

This week in 1888, a baby incubator was first used in the U.S. to care for an infant at State Emigrant Hospital on Ward's Island, New York. Edith Eleanor McLean weighed 2 pounds, 7 ounces. Originally called a "hatching cradle," the device was designed to increase the survival rate of premature infants. Fourteen incubators, complete with babies from an orphanage tended by nurses, went on display at the 1904 World's Fair. Care of the infants was paid for by the exhibit admission fee.

Perishable Publications

Many, if not most, published research papers have titles that defy comprehension. They use specialized jargon, complex words and opaque phrases like "nonlinear dynamics." Sometimes they don't, and yet they're still hard to figure out. Here's an actual title of actual published research study: "Pressures produced when penguins pooh — Calculations on avian defaecation."

Don't let the fancy English spelling fool you. This paper, published in the Polar Biology journal in 2003, was all about figuring out the trajectory of penguin poop. Turns out penguins keep their poop under tremendous gastrointestinal pressure, and when they let go, it typically lands 1.5 feet away — a handy trick if you're stuck spending all day standing in a tuxedo.

Fit to Be Tried

There are thousands of exercises, and you've only got one body, but that doesn't mean you can't try them all: The cobra works out the abdominal and back muscles, requiring no equipment and minimal fitness.

Start by lying prone (on your stomach) on an exercise mat or floor with your hands by your sides, positioned directly under your shoulders and hands facing forward (elbows up). Extend your legs with your toes pointed away from body.

Gently exhale and press your hips into the mat or floor, and pull your chest away from the ground while keeping your hips stable. This will arch your lower back and stretch the muscles in your chest and abdominal region. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds.

Gently relax and lower your upper body to rest upon the mat or floor. Repeat 10 times. If you experience any pain in the lower back, stop immediately and consult your doctor.

Last Words

"Absolutely not!" — actor Montgomery Clift (1920-1966) when asked by his private nurse if he wanted to watch his 1961 film "The Misfits," which was playing that night on television. Instead, he went to his bedroom, where he suffered a fatal heart attack.

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: Free-Photos at Pixabay

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