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binge drinking

Free essay example:

I have chosen to do my assignment on binge drinking as I believe I can produce a good piece of work on this as it is becoming a big public health issue as more teenagers and adults have turned to binge drinking. Public health is concerned with threats to the overall health of a community based on population health analysis. Health is defined and promoted differently by many organizations. I have chosen to take a closer look at binge drinking and teenagers as I believe this is the worst stage for it to happen as the body is still developing and binge drinking causes rapid damage to their brain cells. Young people who binge drink could be risking serious damage to their brains now and increasing memory loss in later adulthood, according to new research. Adolescents may be even more vulnerable to brain damage from excessive drinking than older drinkers.  Alcohol is a public heath issue because of its potential for causing widespread health damage and its dependency. But it is unusual as a public health issue in that it can also have indirect effects on health. For example, alcohol misuse can harm those who become the victims of alcohol-related accidents and alcohol induced violence as well as harming the health of those who misuse alcohol.

According to the BBC news team, “A survey of 15 and 16 year-olds found 26% of boys and 29% of girls in the UK had indulged in binge drinking at least three times in the previous month.

What is binge drinking?                                                                                                                                                      

                                                                                                                           Binge Drinking is defined as drinking heavily over a short period of time or drinking continuously over a number of days or weeks. A person who binge drinks may generally have restrained drinking habits, but may frequently overindulge to an extreme level. Binge drinking is all about drinking a lot to simply get drunk. A recent government report describes binge drinking as 'the consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol within a limited time period', which can mean different things to different people. For male, binge drinking is defined as drinking five or more drinks in a row, and for female as drinking four or more drinks in a row in the past two weeks. "Frequent" binge drinking is defined as binge drinking three or more times in the past two weeks.

Why does binge drinking happen?

Binge drinking nights a year (according to BBC news)

Finland: 32

Ireland: 32

UK: 28

Belgium: 27

Denmark: 21

Germany: 21

France: 20

Netherlands: 18

Spain: 14

Greece: 12

Sweden: 10

Binge drinking is very common in UK youth culture. This culture has grown in parallel with a rapidly expanding bar and drinks industry and the proliferation of drinks marketed to younger consumers. It is likely that the drinks and hospitality industry is partly responsible for the culture of binge drinking in the UK.

People drink for all sorts of reasons, mostly because in moderation alcohol helps people relax and feel more sociable.

I also believe that it is down to teenagers having more money to waste and the peer pressure of doing what others are doing and being ‘cool’. As the teenagers don’t pay bills etc they can then spend there money on doing what most teenagers are doing so they fit it, this could also lead to bullying.

Binge drinking is part of today's student culture. It's not slowly sipping our drinks while catching up with friends. Teenagers treat binge drinking like an extreme sport the theory is drink until you pass out.

Peer pressure – can’t be seen to be different or not joining in.

The problems that can happen from binge drinking

Short-term effects of binge drinking

Hangovers these are unpleasant sensations experienced after excessive drinking of alcohol.

Nausea this is a feeling of sickness or discomfort in the stomach that may come with an urge to vomiting.


Bad skin due to dehydration, after a heavy session can cause dehydration, which means the skin can miss out on a supply of vital nutrients.

Vomiting, this is bringing up digestive matter through the mouth, often associated with nausea.

Memory loss

Injury to themselves or others. Statistically-speaking, if someone is over the limit there more likely to harm themselves by falling into bushes or stepping out into moving traffic. Drunken drivers are another clear hazard, especially if they have gone along for the ride, and as alcohol affects judgment they may well agree to something they would never do sober. It's estimated that alcohol features in 20-30% of accident, also young passengers are in danger.

Binge drinking can bring a person into contact with crime in several ways, as a victim or villain. For example from research carried out it is clear that I now know that from 76,000 facial injuries occur in the UK each year that are linked to drunken violence. Also, alcohol is a major factor in 33% of burglaries and 50% of street crime. A person is vulnerable when they have had a lot to drink meaning they are not in full control of there judgment. E.g. Unwanted pregnancies, STD’s etc.

Long-term effects of binge drinking

Physical and psychological dependence on alcohol.

Significant damage to the brain and liver. Alcohol in the body is processed by the liver. A heavy session places a big strain on this vital organ, and if it is made a regular date then it is a run an increased risk of a disease called cirrhosis, which means liver cells turn to scar tissue. It may not seem like a big deal at the moment, but if the disease goes too far there is no cure.

Risk of cancer in the mouth, throat, or oesophagus.

Possible increased risk of neurological disorders, heart problems, and sexual problems (especially male impotency).

Risk of emotional problems developing such as depression, problems at school, problems at work, and issues within relationships.

Losing job, family, home, partner, friends, money.

Other possible effects of binge drinking

Participating in things that a person wouldn't normally do such as having unprotected sex, or unwanted sex. This might lead to unwanted pregnancy or STD's

Feeling bad about them selves, embarrassed by there own actions.

Vulnerability while intoxicated. I.e. date rape for young girls, violence, being mugged.

Losing friends or loved ones as a result of there behaviour.

Loss of money after reckless spending on alcohol

Alcohol poisoning

If someone drinks a lot of alcohol quickly in one session, this could lead to alcohol poisoning. Some people can get alcohol poisoning from binge drinking, this can lead to the person dying. Alcohol poisoning is a serious, sometimes deadly result of consuming dangerous amounts of alcohol. When the body absorbs too much alcohol, it can directly impact the central nervous system, slowing down breathing, heart rate and gag reflex. This can lead to choking, coma and even death.

Alcohol poisoning most often occurs as a result of drinking too many alcoholic beverages over a short period of time. Binge drinking is a common cause of alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning can also occur by drinking household products that contain ethyl alcohol, or by ingesting isopropyl alcohol or methyl alcohol.

Theses are several risks that I have found,

  • An unconscious casualty risks inhaling and choking on vomit.
  • Alcohol widens (dilates) the blood vessels. This means that the person loses heat, and hypothermia may develop.
  • A casualty who smells of alcohol may be misdiagnosed and not receive appropriate treatment for an underlying cause of unconsciousness, such as a head injury, stroke, or heart attack.

These are some signs and symptoms that I have found,

  • Confusion, stupor
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slow or irregular breathing
  • Blue-tinged skin or pale skin
  • Low body temperature (hypothermia)
  • Unconsciousness ("passing out")

It's not necessary for all of these symptoms to be present before seeking help. A person who has become unconscious, or cannot be roused, is at risk of dying.

To avoid alcohol poisoning I believe that you should,

  • Eat a meal before going out drinking. This will help a person to absorb the alcohol they have drunk much more slowly.
  • Stick to one type of drink at a time.
  • Don’t mix drinks. It is easy to forget what they have had.
  • Drink slowly and discover how much is enough.
  • Drink with people who can be trusted in a safe place.
  • Try to keep a tally of how much they have had.

Is binge drinking down to poor parenting?

Many parents do not know where their teenage children have gone in their spare time, and haven’t tried to impose any kind of restrictions on their behaviour or even try to get involved with their children’s lives. Raising teenagers can be extremely hard, but a concern is that vast numbers of British parents seem to have just given up trying with there children as they just don’t listen these days, as they don’t respond to discipline. Teenagers had more money than in the past, and a greater choice of establishments in which to drink. Measures had also increased in size. It is also down to low pricing, a lack of standardised proof of age schemes and poor enforcement makes it easy for unscrupulous retailers to sell to underage children. This needs to change if it is to turn the tide in the longer term on problem drinking in young people. It adds to the growing body of evidence that teenage binge drinking in Britain is out of control. The number of children being admitted to hospital for alcohol-related disease is shocking and shows that binge drinking among teenagers is completely out of control. This means that valuable hospital time and space has bee taken up from children who believe they are cool according to BBC in 2003-2004, 4,647 under-18s were admitted to hospital, the equivalent of 13 a day - up from 4,173 in 1996-1997.


This chart shows that in the United Kingdom girls binge drink more than boys, I believe this is down to girls would probably go as far as a drink, where as boys would take the risk and take drugs.

B. Analysis and explanation of the links between social, environmental and lifestyle factors and the public health and safety of the chosen service-user groups.
Young people who binge drink report engaging in a range of risk-taking behaviours while drunk, including getting into cars or going home with strangers, using unlicensed mini-cabs, having unprotected sex and taking part in ‘pranks’ which put them in physical danger. Binge drinking is strongly related to accidents and violence. Men are most likely to be the victim of violence and to commit violent offences but drinking is also related to domestic violence and can increase the risk of sexual assault.

Lifestyle factors

There is some important lifestyle factors for example more unwanted babies are being born, this is down to drunken one night stands. Not only unwanted babies, but it harms the baby. A small number of babies in the most severe cases can be born with "foetal alcohol syndrome", with symptoms including growth and mental retardation. According to wrongdiagnosis.com ‘Incidence (annual) of Fetal alcohol syndrome: 0.9 per 10,000 births (Caucasians); Asians 0.3, Hispanics 0.8, African Americans 6.0, and Native Americans 29.9 (NWHIC). Another lifestyle factor is there is more free time on teenager’s hands so they can do what they want, as they don’t work. For example people at sixth form are getting paid up to £30 a week for attending all lessons, which then gets wasted on drink and drugs. Another lifestyle factor is freedom, everyone even teenagers are now given a lot more freedom allowing them to do what they want, especially people from Britain binge drinking, as it is their culture to do this.

Environmental factors

With pubs being open later it is allowing people to drink all night which means people can drink more, and as it is Britain’s culture to binge drink it is very popular, this is then being brought out on the streets when people are walking home, all sorts of rubbish is being accumulated for example fast food containers, broken bottles and sick. Happy hours and cheap nights are also environmental factors. Happy hour is a period of time, which is usually an hour or two in the late afternoons Monday through Thursday, and sometimes Friday. Usually taking place between 4 pm and 7 pm - peak rush hour for many workers where some restaurants and bars give discounts for drinks, especially alcoholic drinks. The idea is that it acts as a promotion of the venue during the quieter times this encourages excessive alcohol consumption.

Drinking Cultures

Binge Drinking is a common behaviour among young people in many Northern European countries. Binge drinking in the UK has gradually increased over the last decade and has typically been viewed as socially acceptable and a ‘normal’ youth behaviour: reversing this trend will require fundamental changes in the UK drinking culture. By contrast, binge drinking is far less common in Mediterranean countries, some of which have an overall per capita alcohol consumption higher than that in the UK. Research suggests that drunkenness is seen as socially unacceptable in Southern Europe, particularly among women; family structure and dynamics, and historical factors may account for this difference in drinking cultures

Social factors

Binge drinking is influenced by a range of personal and social motives that may differ according to age group. Among teenagers, curiosity and experimentation may lead to identification of alcohol as important to sociability, confidence and enjoyment in social and sexual situations. Group pressures, the desire to appear ‘grown-up’ and positive expectations of alcohol use are specific drives of teenage binge drinking. Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation suggests that teenage binge drinkers may indulge because they enjoy the experience and because it alleviates boredom. However, attitudes to alcohol evolve with age and traits such as risk-taking, rebelliousness and experimentation diminish as people move into adulthood. As people age, the frequency of alcohol consumption increases while volume of intake lessens, suggesting that binge drinking is a transitional behaviour. Although a minority of people persist binge drinking even in their 30s, most people leave binge drinking behind as they approach their mid-20s. As well, where else is there to go? There aren’t any places around to socialise in. For example there aren’t any youth clubs. Or under 18 clubs for teenagers to go to socialise especially needed during the winter. This leads to teenagers causing mischief around the towns. I have carried out a investigation to find out what there is for around 16 year olds in my local place. I found out that there wasn’t any suitable youth clubs, or clubs for them to go.

Social impact of binge drinking

Alcohol misuse is closely linked with anti-social, aggressive and violent behaviour. For instance, alcohol is a factor in 30% of sexual offences, 33% of burglaries and 50% of street crimes according to ‘www.parliament.uk’. Such incidents impose significant costs on the National Health Service, Police, Probation Service, Prison Service and the Courts. Men are more likely to commit or experience alcohol-related violence, whereas women are at increased risk of sexual assaults. Around 70% of attendances at A&E departments between midnight and 5am on weekends are alcohol-related. As many as 1 in 10 assaults treated in UK A&E departments are caused by offenders using glasses and bottles as weapons, which can lead to permanent and disfiguring hand or facial injuries. Such incidents may often not be prosecuted because of the unreliability of witnesses recalling facts that occurred while they were intoxicated.

Impact of Binge drinking on health

Physical health

The behavioural and health effects of alcohol are dose-dependent and vary from one person to another. They range from relaxation and euphoria to violent behaviour and coma. Death can also be caused by respiratory or circulatory failure or inhalation of vomit.

Mental health

Binge drinking affects the brain and its function and has been linked to mental illness. Heavy alcohol misuse is responsible for 15−25% of suicides and 65% of suicide attempts

Binge drinking accounts for a proportion of such figures. Further, increasing numbers of young people are being referred for alcohol-related psychiatric problems. Overall, binge drinking can affect mood, motivation, memory, learning and attention and hence school performance.

Public health

Britons spend £30 billion on alcohol each year. The government then raises £7bn through taxes on alcohol. The NHS spends £1.7bn treating alcohol-related illnesses. Around 40% of A&E admissions are alcohol-related, between midnight and 5am that figure rises to 70%. Alcohol-related crime costs £7.3bn. Another £4.7bn is spent on the human and emotional costs of alcohol-related crime. Some 22,000 people die prematurely each year because of alcohol misuse. This is directing government resources away from what they should be used for, to combat the public health issue: binge drinking.

C. The ability to investigate and use a variety of sources of information relevant to your chosen public health issue.


Men and women who drank heavily on at least one day in the previous week: Great Britain, 2005

In Great Britain, men are more prone than women to exceed the recommended daily limits for consumption of alcohol. This graph shows that in 2005, 35 per cent of men and 20 per cent of women exceeded the recommended daily limit (four units and three units respectively) at least one day during the previous week. A further 19 per cent of men drank more than eight units and 8 per cent of women drank more than six units, double the recommended daily limit. This is binge drinking. I believe this is happening because the public house is a place where men tend to go for a pint with there mates, where as women aren’t really known as heavy drinkers.


From the ‘ias fact sheet’

This graph shows that the older you get the more you drink. I believe this is true as it is in Britain’s youths culture to binge drink as it is a social factor.

Reasons for drinking among 18- to 24-year-olds, by sex


From the ‘ias fact sheet’

This graph shows that most people go out to socialise while they are at the pubs/clubs and this is where the drinking is taken place.


Found on ‘BBC’ website.

This graph shows that for both girls, and boys are consuming alcohol even in there school days. The alcohol consumption is also increasing throughout the years, I believe this is because binge drinking is very common in UK youth culture. This is causing more violence, stunting growth, and leading to serious things like pregnancy where most of the youth binge drinkers cannot look after themselves let alone a child. It could also lead to the teenager being an alcoholic when older.


Created from own questionnaire

I created a questionnaire asking 20 random people about their binge drinking patterns. From this I found out that 16 out of 20 drink alcohol while with their family, and out of the 16, 12 drink socially. Where as out of the other 4, 3 of them drink at-least once a week. I believe that this is because drinking alcohol at home can cut teenage binge drinking, as most teenagers drink because they want to experience it. Where as if they try it while they are under supervision, they tend to not drink while out with friends.

‘A report last month put the cost of Britain's binge-drinking culture to the NHS in the region of £1.7bn - with 1.2 million incidents of alcohol-related accidents a year.’

This means accidents like; car crashes, broken body parts (legs, arms, nose, fingers etc), cuts etc.


This is an image i found on ‘google images’, this image shows that binge drinking is a ‘poison’ it gives a clear message to all groups of people, a very simple message, that doesn’t require reading skills, to think hard etc. ‘This is what it does to you!’. I believe this is aimed at the youth as it is shown with shot glasses. Also they have done the worst effects in darker colours, as the red from the liver damage stands out and grabs attention, unlike the lime colour which doesn’t stand out as much.

‘Student died in drinking ‘challenge’’

This is a headline from a local broadsheet, where a teenager drank a mixture of sambuca, cider,

24 hour drinking law

A 24 hour drinking law came into force in England and Wales has failed to restrain the nation's binge-drinking culture and its impact now extends late into the night, 12 months after the Licensing Act came into police and doctors have to cope with even more victims from city centre violence into the small hours. Around £5 million extra has been spent policing flashpoints since the 24-hour drinking law came into action, this has been spent on more officers working more hours.


A TV documentary program was shown where an ex singer Michelle Heaton drank 60 units a week which is more than four times the recommended amount for women for ITV1's documentary ‘The Truth About Binge Drinking’. Michelle agreed to drink heavily for a month for the TV show to see if it affected her. But she had to give up early after sufferingliver damage, diarrhoea, amnesia, depression, exhaustion, stomach and a failing immune system. As well her sex drive disappeared, she lost her voice, got cracked lips, bad skin, greasy hair and had permanently bloodshot eyes.

Michelle, 27, said: "I really thought I was going to die, I felt my whole body was giving up on me. It was the most awful feeling in the world."

Michelle also nearly had a fight with a female stranger in a bar, but was so drunk she cannot remember it. And she was not the only one suffering, either. Husband Andy Scott-Lee bore the brunt of her mood swings and their relationship faltered as she lost her libido.

This program showed the viewers that the government's 14-unit guideline was realistic, and has been put there for a reason. The TV program has not only shown everyone what they look like when they are out binge drinking, but it has also shown teenagers the effects of binge drinking. This may make teenagers realise that it is not a good thing to do and prevent them from doing it in future.


A massive surge in binge-drinking, particularly among young women, is to be tackled by new government proposals as a £4m advertising campaign shows how people feel they are invincible when drunk and take excessive risks. Official figures show that 2,000 deaths a year in the East Midlands are alcohol related and one person under 40 dies each month from alcohol poisoning. The campaign is called ‘Know your limits’ where ads will appear in cinemas, television, radio, magazines and online.

Images like these are being advertised to stop binge drinking: image08.pngimage07.pngimage09.png

They also have support for people who need and want it, for example they have a website and a ‘drinkline’ to talk to somebody. They also have leaflets available to help stop binge drinking and the effects of it.

Pressure groups

A pressure group is a group of people who have strongly held views and wish to influence some aspect of society









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