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"Binge Drinking": The perceived reward of gratification is stronger than the long-term health risks.

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INTRODUCTION A government report shows that 17 million working days are lost to hangovers and drink related illness each year. The annual cost to employers is estimated to be �6.4bn while the cost to the National Health Service is around �1.7bn: Around 40% 0f Accident & Emergency admissions are alcohol-related Billions more are spent clearing up alcohol-related crime; there are around 1.2 million incidents of alcohol related violence each year. Additionally alcohol-related problems are responsible for an estimated 22,000 premature deaths each year, a figure thought to be conservative. Over 90% of British adults drink alcohol, spending over �30bn on alcohol each year. One in three men drink more than they should. One in five woman drink more than they should, and woman in skilled jobs drink more heavily than other woman. (BBC[1]) The new government concern however is not only the amount of alcohol, but also the short durations during which much of it is consumed. A now common term used to describe this high intake of alcohol in a single drinking occasion is "binge drinking". This is thought to account for 40% of all men's drinking sessions. (Press Association) People who binge drink could be causing rapid damage to their brain cells. Originally it was thought that damage to the brain (Neurodegeneration) was caused not while drunk, but over a longer period when the brain had to cope with alcohol withdrawal. Recent, but unconfirmed research, suggests that degeneration after a couple of days of heavy intoxication might translate to someone who is not a chronic alcohol abuser. ...read more.


It also reduced any ethical issues about the questions being asked. While it was only conducted upon a small sample, 20 people, a balance of age ranges was attempted. The disadvantage that the sample was small, that they were all of similar education and social background was accepted and included in the discussion of the results. This small project does not purport to represent a sampling of the general public. The questions were considered to be valid in their measure and reliable for the scale of the project. Materials. The questionnaire developed in a rough draft and sampled on a very small group of college associates. The answers were not included in the results; this sample was to establish the comprehension of the actual questionnaire and was considered adequate without the need of amendment. A final copy was drawn on a desktop publishing program and printed onto both sides of a single sheet of paper. The findings were entered onto a simple spreadsheet program to facilitate graph representations of the findings. The author completed the questionnaire, face-to-face so only a pen and means of supporting the paper (a file) was required. RESULTS. The results reflect the answers of a small group of twenty people, the age range was broken down into: 18-24 six people, 25-34 eight people, 35+ six people. Gender was referred to on the questionnaire to establish the appropriate recommended maximum alcohol limit, but was not reflected in the results. Question 1. This simply established age range and was used to divide the results into age brackets for comparison. ...read more.


Conclusion. 'Binge' drinking, regardless of its numerous definitions is neither new nor restricted to the UK, but likes may be traced back as far as the Vikings, which may lend weight to its contrast to Mediterranean drinking culture. Government interest in it as a problem would appear to be financially motivated, with much of its reporting focused on the associated costs more than any moral decline. Proposed 'measures' seem rather half hearted, proposals for warnings on bottles, altering licensed closing times and putting more of the onus of 'sensible' drinking onto the establishments seem weak given the vast figures quoted as concerning. Perhaps what needs to be considered is the number of people who drink alcohol and the popularity of any government who was to interfere with its consumption in any direct and significant manner? Fortunately to avoid political intrigue the failings of the prohibition movement of early 20th century America give reason to avoid too radical and direct government action. Predominantly the 'binge' culture does seem to be more centred around the young, but perhaps the average wage, mortgage payments and other 'responsible person' commitments at a later stage in life are the reason for this abstinence, more than any moral or 'growing up' attribute. Certainly this report supports the theory that despite knowledge about potential long-term health risks with excessive alcohol indulgence now, the likely effect of this awareness is unlikely to easily change a very long established, and more importantly accepted, drinking culture of 'drinking to get drunk' that exists today. Word Count 2761 Acknowledgements. Ros Jackson and Sarah Wilson for their support throughout the construction of this project. Friends and peers for their time and patience completing the questionnaires. ...read more.

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