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Binge drinking also referred to as heavy episodic drinking, refers to the heavy drinking of alcohol and alcoholic beverages over a short time period that eventually leads to intoxication. It could also refer to abstaining for alcohol over quite some time, then indulging in it over s time that has been set aside for the purpose of drinking (Warner, 2003). There has been no agreement whatsoever of the number of drinks that constitutes a binge because different people become intoxicated with different amounts of alcohol.
History of binge drinking in the UK
In the UK, binge drinking refers to the intake of twice the amount of alcohol that an individual normally drinks every day. The intake varies from men to women in that for men it is drinking more than eight units while for women it is drinking more than six units. According to Angela McShane, a lecturer of history at Warwick University in the UK, binge drinking started way back in the 17th century. The men who lived during this century could drink between six to eight pints of beer in a single day. This habit even got out of control at some point in the UK, especially during the English Civil War (Greenway, 2003).
Drinking increased because it was a sign of political allegiance as well as a sign of defeat and so the losers sought comfort in drinking. She also says that after the death of King Charles I, and the heir to his throne absent as he was overseas, the royalists felt they had been defeated and therefore turned to drinking so that they could find solace there. Wine was there favorite then and from then on, they made it some sort of ritual through which they could express their allegiance to the Royal Crown. These loyalties even went to the extremes of cutting their bottoms, then mixing their blood with their wines and then proposing a toast and drinking to the health of their king. This practice was done in an ale house that was situated in Bedfordshire. King Charles II then came back from abroad in the 1660s and the drinking even became wilder.
The loyalties to the throne drank themselves lame and if they thought that one did not drink as much wine as they were expected to, then they were termed disloyal. With binge drinking violence came, and if there was anyone who declined a toast, they would be disciplined. The violence that came with drinking led to the deaths of many as they were involved in fights. They even coined the term ‘saint Monday’ to indicate their inability to work, because they had indulged in alcohol after church on Sunday. In this light therefore, we can say that bingeing is far from a modern problem.
There has been concern over binge drinking in the UK because in the recent years, it has been discovered that 40% of the alcohol that is taken by men is in the form of binging.in addition, the rate of female binge drinking is also on the rise. This notable rise in binge drinking can be attributed to four factors. The first is that manufacturers have come up with a wider range of alcoholic beverages that suits every taste and pocket. The second is that the concentrations of alcoholic beverages like beer and wine have also been increased (Measham and Brain, 2005). Alcohol has been given much advertisement and marketing, so much so that the culture of consumption of alcohol has now been adopted by people as it is a symbol of class and status. The last reason is that the drinking hubs are now portrayed as trendy places and people now flock in there to drink.
Effects of binge drinking
Binge drinking has become a concern in the public health sector. Binge drinkers are more often than not committing suicide, break the law, and neglect their obligations. It also has severe effects on the body, for example heart disease, blood pressure and even brain damage.
Occasions associated with binge drinking
Binge drinking is normally prevalent during the weekends when people come together after work. However, it has also been discovered that young people become binge drinkers during promotional nights. A good example is when fresh men are reporting to campus and so to usher them in, a party is thrown for them.
Despite the fact that more positive images of the drinking of alcohol are being portrayed in the UK, binge drinking is still a problem. The law has not efficiently tackled this problem even after having changed the licensing laws. Citizens of the UK do not still understand that binge drinking is harmful to them and to others. Most of them look at it as a way of having fun and good time, a time to socialize with people or even forget about their problems. A survey that was carried out in 1993 that binge drinkers comprised 42%. Out of this, only 24% of males and 33% of females acknowledged that binging was harmful to their health, and even made efforts to change (Greenway, 2003).
In addition to this, many of the binge drinkers did not want to change as they preferred the ‘positive’ experiences of binging, so that they do not mind about the negative experiences. Another side to this binging problem is that we cannot place the blame on the binge drinkers totally. The UK is known for having the longest average working day in the whole of Europe. Due to this, the workers feel pressured and so they take to drinking as a way of relaxation and even escape from these pressures.
It is crystal clear that binge drinking is a problem and is costing the UK a lot of money. Solutions to it should be sought this early if there are changes that are expected to be seen. Some of the solutions include: the media should be encouraged to send clear messages about binging because all they are doing is sending mixed messages that encourage this type of drinking. Youngsters should also be encouraged to find alternative activities to occupy themselves with especially on Friday and Saturday nights. The government should also put laws in place to curb and control binging and also help bingers recover.
In conclusion, binge drinking can be looked at as a sign of change in the relationship between work, leisure and consumption. The young people especially when faced with identity crisis find themselves through consumption. Studies in psychology also indicate that their consumption of alcohol is based on the need for satisfaction, incorporation and formation of identity (Measham and brain, 2005). Though they deem these behaviors as unacceptable, these people do see themselves as binge drinkers and so they do not make any effort to stop this habit.
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