The dangers of our binge drinking culture

Alcohol is the most widely consumed drug in Australia. Any adult can legally drink and it’s socially acceptable, unlike other drugs like cocaine and crystal meth. These factors, among others, have led to an increasing culture of binge drinking.

But what exactly is binge drinking? Simply put, if someone is binge drinking, they’re drinking to get drunk. There’s been a lot of debate over an official definition, with some experts arguing that it should relate to a certain amount of alcohol consumed within a certain amount of time. There’s one thing that’s clear though: if your aim is to get drunk, you’re binge drinking.

Research by the Australian Bureau of Statics (ABS) has revealed that men binge drink more than women. Men aged between the ages of 25 to 34 are the most prevalent problem drinkers of all. But women are quickly catching up… The rate of binge drinking in young women aged 18-24 shot up by 5.1% between 2001 and 2007-2008. What worries police, politicians and doctors the most is the fact that the overall amount of binge drinking has increased since 2008 and has now reached epidemic proportions.

Young people are especially vulnerable to the ill effects of binge drinking. Companies that make alcoholic drinks use clever marketing to make them seem exciting, appealing and fun. Combine this with social pressures from friends and wanting to appear more ‘grown up’, and it’s easy to see how teenagers end up getting intoxicated, wandering the streets at night in a volatile, yet vulnerable state. Although they drink to have a good time, it can backfire horribly.

There are some serious physical dangers associated with excessive alcohol consumption. Drinking too much can cause alcohol poisoning, which can lead to vomiting, seizures and even death. Long term, the implications of alcohol abuse include liver damage, brain damage and addiction.

Aside from the physical effects of binge drinking, the social consequences are also significant. It’s common for people who binge drink to end up engaging in dangerous, antisocial behaviour that is out of character. Alcohol is notorious for lowering people’s inhibitions, which can lead to all kinds of risky behaviours such as unprotected sex, violence and criminal activities.

Binge drinking is a growing problem in our society. If we stand by and let it happen, more and more young people will suffer the consequences. The solution isn’t easy – but we can begin by looking at our culture and discuss whether alcohol really should play such a prominent part in it.