I’ll just finish the bottle

What’s the big problem with having a drink or two?  If everyone around me is drinking the same, surely it’s acceptable? But… it’s not that simple.

Do you know the daily units of alcohol you should be drinking? And if you do, are you sticking to it?

Women 2-3
Men 3-4

Are you drinking this and more on a regular basis… if so – welcome to the world of excessive drinking!

Who’s affected?

I have always known excessive drinking as a student activity. Pre drinks, drinking games, cheap deals when you go out… also known as characteristics of “binge drinking” – the action of drinking as much alcohol as you can in very little time to get incredibly drunk. We should be proud, England has just won the award of third worst binge drinkers in Europe! It starts off at the very beginning of the year with the reputed “Fresher’s week” and never fades out. Students then turn into completely different creatures: antisocial, violent, troublemakers, euphoric and most likely to be dangerous AND annoying for people around. Binge drinking is part of “living the student life” but at the origin of many problems.

But binge drinking is not the only aspect of excessive drinking. Again, that would be too simple! Think about that little glass of wine after a long day, or the few occasional beers to celebrate a new contract! This obviously concerns a different part of the British population and can prove itself to be just as dangerous, if not more. Hidden behind terms like “social drinking”, this is considered as normal. Why would a single glass of Chardonnay hurt me? It comforts me, and helps me to celebrate! Because the habit of drinking has already built itself a warm nest in your brain… Social drinking can indeed lead to a strong and undiscovered addiction. At first, you will have a valid reason to pour yourself some wine. Then the only reason will be: “But I do this every day!” – 4% of the British population is alcoholic. That’s 1.1 million people. That’s a lot. Excessive drinking disguised in social drinking or the “occasional” glass of wine looks harmless. Therefore much harder to spot and stop. Alcohol is part of everyone’s everyday life and too much alcohol does not just concern students and sad old people anymore. It is the most accessible drug in the UK: harmless, social, cultural, mandatory??

What’s the big deal?

The obvious consequences for drinking in excess are the more a person drinks, the more their life depends of alcohol which can lead to the deadly disease of alcoholism. The table below shows Ninja PR’s interpretation of the downward spiral a person can take in their life if drinking becomes a number one priority. Triggers such as stress/life related can lead to a person drinking in excess, the feeling a person gets from drinking hammers in a mind-set that drinking helps resolve a person’s problem and therefore makes them forget the trigger in the first place. In some cases however, alcoholism is the end product and becomes the priority.

Of course, it would be a naïve approach to believe excessive drinking simply leads to alcoholism, other problems such as:

Family issues
Health problems
Antisocial behaviour
Stillborn babies
Losing jobs, friends, relationships
Drink driving
And many more, the list is almost endless… Each problem can act as a trigger, which of course leads to more alcohol being consumed and the cycle to continue.

Whose problem is it anyway?

So who should be held responsible for producing a solution to the drinking problem in the UK? Some think it’s down to parents to educate their children in what not to do, whereas others feel that the government should enforce stricter rules and regulations to try and curb alcohol consumption. But the problem lies deep within the heart of the UK and simply targeting one of these groups would never be sufficient enough.

What shall we do about it?

The most effective (and maybe the only) way to resolve this problem is to target every aspect that can effect drinking in excess.  This ranges from the media, to accessibility of alcohol, to educating both adults and children in the dangers of alcohol.  Only when all of these issues are addressed in a national campaign can we maybe lower our ranking as ‘third worst binge drinkers in the EU’. I don’t know about you, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

How does alcohol affect your life?