Facebook Photos Make Light of Heavy Drinking, but Doctors Aren't Laughing

In the past, one of the worst things about getting drunk and acting like a fool was the hangover that followed the next morning. But, with social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace, the humiliation has been taken to a whole new level.

A user group called, "30 Reasons Girls Should Call It a Night" has posted nearly 5,000 photos of completely wasted young women making total fools of themselves. If you need proof, just check out the pictures.

While some believe the photos are funny and entertaining, medical experts say it's no laughing matter.

"It's making light of this problem," said Dr. Petros Levounis, director of The Addiction Institute of New York, at St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital. "It actually encourages us to laugh at these people and not even in a good humored manner."

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 75,000 deaths each year in the U.S. as a result of excessive alcohol use. This extremely high number makes binge drinking the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the nation.

The CDC defines binge drinking as a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings a person's blood alcohol level (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. When you break that down, it translates to men consuming five drinks in one sitting and women having about four drinks in the same time period, said Levounis.

While binge drinking is a major public health problem, especially among people under the age of 21, many kids think if they don't drink steadily, they don't have a problem.

Levounis strongly disagrees.

"We see people, especially young people that suffer from alcoholism dependence," said Levounis. "Quite a few binge drink and somehow young adults and parents think if you don't drink on a regular basis that you're not an alcoholic, but that's completely not true."

According to Levounis, these are the top 5 signs you might be in trouble:

1. Drinking five or more drinks in one sitting if you're a man, four or more if you're a woman

2. If there's a big change in your performance at work, or at school

3. If you're trying to cut down on drinking and you're not able to

4. If you've ever felt guilty about your drinking

5. If you've ever felt annoyed by people telling you that you're drinking too much

Levounis also noted that you don't have to suffer from all five of these signs to be an alcoholic, you could just be experiencing a few, and still have a major problem.

The good news is there are plenty of treatment options out there.

"Nowadays we have safe and effective treatments for alcoholism," said Levounis. "There's psychotherapy called cognitive behavior therapy and medications."

Cognitive behavior therapy is treatment based on the idea that feelings and behaviors are caused by a person's thoughts, not on outside factors like people, situations and events. According to cognitive-behavior therapists, people may not be able to change their circumstances, but they can change how they think about them and therefore change how they feel and behave.

"It's a shame to see young people suffer from this devastating illness while there are so many treatments available to help them," said Levounis. "Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and checking in with a doctor can be a first great step."