The months are getting warmer, university students are back home and spending their weekends (and money) at clubs and bars, and high school students are yearning for their summer to finally begin. Regardless of a students age there is bound to be drinking in their schedule for the summer. Sure it’s fun to have some drinks with friends, but as the old saying goes, less is more.
In the UK, National Health Service costs have reached 4.4 billion a year due to binge drinking, including “hospital admissions related to booze-fueled violence and longer-term health problems” (Sylvia Hui, Toronto Star, 2012). In addition there has been a 25% increase in liver disease in the past 10 years, causing a record level of deaths. And with the already high obesity rates in the UK combined with high drinking rates, liver disease in youth has also increased drastically.
Although this is happening in the UK, no country is exempt from the effects of binge drinking; in Canada 9% reported binge drinking with many of them between the ages of 15 and 24, and in other countries the rates are as high as 90% for men and 65% for women. Although Canada does not have a high rate in comparison with some other countries, the warning is still relevant to Canadians that ANYONE can become apart of the binge drinking statistics if they don’t drink responsibly.
The main hurdle that needs to be overcome for binge drinking is the social factor; movies, advertisements, culture and peer pressure all combine to make binge drinking a more acceptable method of drinking among youth. When commercials and movies glamorize excessive drinking it sinks in to those watching and gives youth a warped perspective on proper drinking etiquette. The government could increase the amount of PSA’s, especially on channels frequented by young adults, during the summer to remind the public about the dangers of binge drinking and alcohol abuse.
For example, the New Zealand government took notice of the high drinking rates and vowed to put an end to the abuse of alcohol with graphic and precautionary commercials and videos. In Finland over drinking is something to be ashamed about not praised as Kaisa Toroskainen, a Finnish graduate student in London, England explains, “(At home) it’s embarrassing to be drunk. Here it’s kind of something you brag about” (Sylvia Hui, Toronto Star, 2012).
Healthy habits for drinking can be developed when families teach and model to their kids how to drink safely and properly early on, and to surround ones self with friends who have equally healthy drinking habits and perspectives. Drinking is a large part of the Western culture, but it doesn’t mean that it has to be in excess; by drinking responsibly one can prevent future health problems and ensure that they provide a safe atmosphere for themselves and others.
Have a safe and happy summer!
1. Hui, Sylvia. "Binge Drinking in Britain Reaches Crisis Levels." Thestar.com. 14 May 2012. Web. 27 May 2012.
2. Weeks, Carly. "The Globe and Mail." The Globe and Mail. 17 Jan. 2011. Web. 28 May 2012.
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