The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) is the US federal government’s lead alcohol agency. It’s responsible for providing alcohol information to the public. Because it speaks with federal authority it’s essential that its information be clear and accurate. But is the government alcohol information erroneous? Yes, much of it is. And much more is misleading.
Government Alcohol Information Erroneous
Alcohol and Health
This, in spite of the fact that medical research to the contrary. It extends back to 1925 and is from around the world. It shows that the moderate drinking is linked with better health and longer life. That’s compared with abstaining from alcohol.
An analysis made by NIAAA’s own scientists of the medical research concluded that the lowest death rate occurs among those who have one to two alcoholic drinks per day. It can be beer, spirits (liquor), or wine.
These facts clearly discredit the the agency’s Teacher’s Guide.2
Drinking and Driving
The NIAAA falsely states that traffic deaths caused by drinking claim about 15,000 lives annually in the US. Not so.
In fact, the National Motorists Association has been offering a challenge. It’s $20,000 to the first person who can prove that this statistic is correct. No one has collected the money. That’s because the statistic is clearly false. It totally lacks factual support.
Alcohol and Breathalyzers
The NIAAA states that the Breathalyzer measures blood alcohol concentration (BAC), although it only estimates BAC.3 The only way that BAC can be measured is by testing a sample of a person’s blood. That’s why not all states even permit the use of breath testers.
Blood samples can’t be manipulated, as can breath samples. For example, breathing rapidly can greatly reduce a breath testers reading.
Many things can lead to falsely high breath tester readings. They include compounds found in lacquers, paint removers, celluloid, gasoline, and cleaning fluids.
Other common causes of falsely high BAC levels are these.
- Things in the driver’s mouth. (Such as alcohol, blood or vomit).
- Electrical interference from cell phones and police radios.
- Tobacco smoke.
- Operator error.
- Specific make of breath estimator.
- Incorrect calibration.
- Body temperature.
- Air temperature.
- Normal variations in driver’s hemocrit (cell volume of blood).
- Other physiological differences.
One expert has asserted this.
Breath testing, as currently used, is a very inaccurate method for measuring BAC. Even if the breath testing instrument is working perfectly, physiological variables prevent early reasonable accuracy. Breath testing for alcohol using a single test instrument, should not be used for scientific, medical or legal purposes where accuracy is important.4
Breathalyzers clearly don’t measure, they only estimate BAC. And they’re often far from accurate. For more, visit Alcohol Breath Analyzer Accuracy .
Economic Costs of Alcohol Abuse
The NIAAA presents a clearly deceptive and misleading picture of the economic costs of alcohol abuse. Its estimate is actually of gross costs rather than net costs.5 That is, the NIAAA statistic adds up all costs (including large “phantom” or false costs).
Yet it fails to subtract the economic benefits provided by alcohol. These include income to the producers of things used in producing alcohol beverages. They include income of those who produce, distribute and sell alcohol. They also include profits, taxes, and many other economic benefits to tens of millions of Americans
Alcohol and Youth
NIAAA states “it is important to note that any alcohol use by underage youth is considered to be alcohol abuse.”6 For emphasis, the agency re-states and then even highlights its assertion. But does this agency really expect us to believe these things are abuse?
- Priests who serve alcohol to their underage parishioners. They do this in the celebration of Holy Communion. Are priests engaging in alcohol abuse?
- Jewish parents who serve alcohol to their children as part of weekly and other religious observances. Are they promoting alcohol abuse?
- Doctors who prescribe meds containing alcohol to their underage patients. Are really prescribing alcohol abuse? And are the parents who follow their doctors’ orders causing alcohol abuse?
- States that explicitly permit parents to serve alcohol to their offspring within the home. Are these states promoting alcohol abuse?
- Adults under the age of 21 around the world who drink in moderation. Are these adults abusing alcohol?
So the assertion that “any alcohol use by underage youth is considered to be alcohol abuse” really means something else. It means that “any alcohol use by underage youth is considered by the NIAAA to be alcohol abuse.”
The NIAAA’s definition of alcohol abuse among young people is radica. It’s radical in historical, cross-cultural, medical, religious, and other terms. Millions of people in the US and hundreds of millions of people around the world would disagree with the NIAAA. And with its extreme definition.
Much of this government alcohol information is in error. The NIAAA’s Teacher’s Guide is full of other errors, omissions, and misleading statements. They’re too many to describe here.
Both the American public and our children deserve much better.
Warning! These readings may well contain false and/o4 deceptive facts.
NIAAA. Parents’ Guide: Your Child and Alcohol Use: Talk to Your Child about Alcohol.
____. Fall Semester: a Time for Parents to Discuss the Risks of College Drinking.
____. Rethinking Drinking: Alcohol and Your Health.
1. NIAAA. Teacher’s Guide (“Information about Alcohol” section). Understanding Alcohol. Wash: NIH Curriculum Supp. Series – Grades 7-8.
2. Gunzerath, L., et al. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Report on Moderate Drinking. Alco Clin Exper Res, 28(6),
3. NIAAA, Ibid.
4. Hlastula, M. Physiological errors associated with alcohol breath tests. Champion, 9(6). Quoted in Taylor, L. Drunk Driving Defense.
5. NIAAA, ibid.
6. NIAAA, ibid.
So is the government alcohol information erroneous? Now you know that much of it is. And you also know that much more is misleading.