New pandemic alert: binge drinking sweeps the Western world! The latest outbreak of binge drinking has erupted in Italy where:
Traditional restraints are breaking down, to the horror of parents, health authorities and the government, which has described the problem of alcohol abuse as a national emergency.
Where once becoming drunk was a social taboo and a cause for shame, it is now regarded by many young Italians as acceptable, even desirable.
The origin of the outbreak has been traced to . . . the United Kingdom:
Having been introduced to the cheap shots, happy hours, and down-in-one drinking games of Anglo-American drinking culture, many Italians are now hooked.
Oh, the irony; only last month the Brits were looking to Italy for some help with this problem.
The early baby boomers may be known as the generation of sex, drugs and rock and roll. But it turns out, they’re hitting the bottle pretty hard as they age, as well. And that portends significant alcohol-related health problems ahead as those mid-lifers become seniors.
A new study finds that among men and women 50 to 64 years old, almost 1 in 4 men and 1 in 10 women is a binge drinker.
In New Zealand, out of just over two million adults, 785,000 adults are regularly binge drinking. No wonder the economy is tanking!
Australia has likewise been affected, but instead of getting upset, the government has seen it as a way to raise more tax:
The alcopops tax is a blatant tax grab designed to line the pockets of the Rudd government, and is not a measure to address Australia’s binge drinking culture.
Women, who were thought to be immune, are now getting hit hard! Statistics out of the UK show that “the number of women who binge-drink had almost doubled to 15 per cent between 1998 and 2006.“
But wait, it gets worse: now there is extreme binge drinking, defined as nine drinks for women and twelve for men in a single sitting. Here are some of the reported findings from university research into extreme drinking:
The University of Texas-Austin research found 78% of students cited ill effects, including hangovers (54%). Of 44% who had blackouts, 22% found out later they had sex, and 22% got in a fight or argument. And 39% didn’t know how they got home.
So great has the problem become on campuses that Kansas University now requires most students younger than 22 to take a class on alcohol and its effects.
Let’s get a grip here. Why is it that we are constantly looking for the next social ‘ill’ to control? Just about every person I know has been, or still is, a bit of a binge drinker. Why? Because they like it! If it wasn’t for binge drinking, I probably wouldn’t have any friends. How many of these friends have ever been arrested? Caused a disturbance? Assaulted someone?
None. Zero. Nada.
So there’s always going to be a few that do get out of control. So be it. But leave the rest of us alone to down our 5+ drinks in less than two hours.
Declaration of interest: it’s a Winston Churchill day for this bartender – five martinis, that is—the perfect accompaniment for writing about binge drinking.
PS: Binge drinking is nothing new. Kate Hepburn shows us how it’s done–champagne, a ciggie, a kiss and a dance–all class.