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Binge Drinking Continues to Cause Misery in the UK

A survey back in 2010 produced the worrying news that the UK is now the number one country in Europe for binge drinking. This dangerous pattern of drinking is engaged in regularly by at least 12% of the population. The situation does not seem to have improved at all since three years ago, and there are many who would claim that binge drinking is on the rise in 2013. It was hoped that allowing bars to open twenty-four hours a day would discourage this pattern of consumption, but if anything, it is making the situation worse – or at least this is what the statistics seem to be telling us.

What is Binge Drinking?

Binge drinking refers to a pattern of alcohol consumption where the individual consumes a large quantity in a relatively short period of time. When people binge drink, they are not just being social but are deliberately trying to become intoxicated. The recommended levels for drinking are just twenty-one units over the course of a week, but these need to be spread out over the entire week. In the case of binge drinking, the individual will consume more than seven drinks in a single session – often significantly more than this.

Dangers of Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is the most dangerous pattern of consumption because:

  • It is the binge drinkers who are most likely to develop alcohol problems. Even if these individuals only go drinking at the weekends, they could still end up developing alcoholism.
  • Those individuals who are engaged in this type of behaviour are at high risk for alcohol poisoning. This refers to a situation where the individual’s blood alcohol content reaches such high levels that it can seriously impair the body’s normal functioning. Many people will die each year because of alcohol poisoning, and it could happen to a person who has only recently started binging.
  • The individual will be so inebriated that they will be at high risk of having accidents. Alcohol prevents the individual from making good choices, and it causes them to act impulsively and recklessly. It basically means that the person is like an accident waiting to happen.
  • This is the pattern of drinking to which teenagers seem to be particularly attracted. They are the ones who may be at most risk from this behaviour.
  • This level of alcohol toxicity is damaging to every organ in the body. It will not be necessary for the individual to drink every day in order for them to start to develop alcohol liver disease and other conditions. It has been shown that people can enter the first stage of alcoholic liver disease (fatty liver) very early on in their life as a binge drinker.
  • This pattern of drinking is closely associated with violence. Anyone who has walked around a UK town on a Friday night will no doubt have seen how this level of inebriation causes people to become aggressive.
  • Binge drinking is not really the cause of domestic violence, as it is a desire to control the other person, but those who engage in this behaviour will usually be a binge drinker. They will also tend to be most violent when they are inebriated.
  • When people are this intoxicated they will often do things that they later deeply regret. This bad behaviour can destroy relationships and ruin the person’s reputation. One night out on the town drinking too much and acting irresponsibly may have repercussions for years to come.
  • There is a strong link between binge drinking and unplanned pregnancy. Promiscuous behaviour can also put people at risk of sexually transmitted diseases. The individual may be willing to have sex with people when intoxicated that they would never consider having sex with if they were sober.
  • Some people will experience memory blackouts. This alcohol-induced amnesia means that the individual will be unable to remember whole chunks of time while they were inebriated. There are plenty of examples of people who behaved badly during these blackouts but didn’t even remember how much damage they did when they woke up the next day. It is a highly uncomfortable position to be told of your bad behaviour when you are able to defend yourself because you cannot remember anything.
  • The individual is more likely to experiment with illegal drugs if they are already intoxicated with alcohol.
  • This pattern of drinking is most likely to lead to hangover symptoms. This can mean that the individual will be unable to function properly the next day because they feel so unwell.
  • There is a great deal of work productivity lost due to binge drinking. This is bad for the economy and bad for society as a whole.

Why Do People Binge Drink?

Despite the obvious dangers of binge drinking, this is something that seems to be on the increase. Some of the possible reasons for this would include:

  • There is a culture of binge drinking in the UK. This means that for many people it is normal to go to the bar and drink more than seven units in one sitting.
  • Many people will have grown up in an environment where binge drinking was the norm. This means that they do not see anything odd about going out with the intention of becoming inebriated.
  • The media is responsible for glamorising this type of behaviour. It is a common theme in TV shows and movies for characters to be inebriated and be shown as having a good time.
  • Celebrities encourage this type of behaviour when they engage in it themselves. There can be this view that binge drinking is somehow glamorous.
  • There can be a great deal of peer pressure on people to binge drinking. If people attempt to leave a bar after a couple of beers, there will usually be other people insisting that they have “one more for the road.”
  • The normal practice of buying rounds in a pub seems to encourage binge drinking.
  • Bars will be happy to keep serving people alcohol well beyond the recommended safe levels of alcohol consumption.

How to Escape Binge Drinking

Those individuals who have not yet crossed the line into addiction should be able to escape the dangers of binge drinking if they have a good enough reason to. It may be beneficial for these people to spend some time with an addiction therapist, so they can find out about the risks they are taking. This therapist will then be able to motivate them to make sensible changes in their life, so that they will be able to return to safe levels of alcohol consumption.

In many instances, binge drinkers will have already crossed the line into addiction. This means that they will need to quit alcohol completely because once they have become dependent they will never be able to go back to social drinking. Giving up an alcohol addiction alone can be a real challenge, and this is why it will usually be necessary for the individual to enter some type of addiction treatment programme. This will provide them with the tools they need to build a sober life.

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