Health experts say plans for a ‘few drinks’ can often become a ‘few too many’, as the line between safe drinking and binge drinking becomes increasingly blurred.
Mental Health / Drug and Alcohol Health Promotion Officer Emma Teuma said getting drunk or ‘plastered’ is being normalised in social situations like pubs and clubs, due to the high number of people partaking in this behaviour.
“Drinking has always been seen as a way of relaxing and unwinding, but in recent years some people have been taking this indulgence way too far,” said Mrs Teuma.
“People who are caught up in the web of binge drinking, even if it’s just once a week, can become hugely desensitised to the negative social and health impacts caused by this behaviour. If you choose to write yourself off and distance yourself from reality, there could be people waiting in the wings to take advantage of your vulnerability.”
“Binge drinking can make you more susceptible to injury or harm, or cause you to do or say things that you usually wouldn’t, which can result in feeling shame, guilt, or intense anxiety,” said Mrs Teuma.
Binge drinking is choosing to drink heavily either on a single occasion, or drinking continuously over a number of days or weeks.
“Young people are continuing to choose this lifestyle due to numerous reasons such as peer pressure, social isolation or anxiety, or to just to achieve an extra high,” said Mrs Teuma.
Mrs Teuma said binge drinking is a huge national problem, with drinking warnings and guidelines falling on deaf ears. Australian statistics show at least 4 people under the age of 25 die due to alcohol related injuries in an average week, whilst 70 will be hospitalised.
“So many people fail to see Alcohol as a drug. It acts as a depressant, slowly shutting down the central nervous system, including the brain. It can also cause people to shake, feel nauseas, vomit and even suffer from alcohol induced memory loss known as black-outs,” said Mrs Teuma.
“That’s only in the short term. Overtime the effects of binge drinking can include brain and liver damage, increased risk of throat, mouth, or oesophagus cancer, and even death.”
The Western NSW Local Health Network Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol team understands the importance of educating the younger generation about the harm that they could potentially be inflicting upon their bodies.
“Alcohol is a drug, and binge drinking can cause direct harm to yourself as well as those around you,’ said Mrs Teuma.
Here are some basic guidelines to follow when drinking:
- Quench your thirst with a non-alcoholic or low alcoholic drink. ‘Mocktails’ are a great alcohol-free alternative to cocktails with the same full flavour.
- Drink slowly without gulping, and put your drink down between sips.
- Avoid ‘shouts’. This tends to force you to keep up with the pace of those around you, and often leaves you financially broke.
- Eat before and while you’re drinking, but avoid salty foods because they make you thirsty. This will reduce the amount of alcohol you will drink and absorb.
- Be mindful that not all drinks contain 10 grams of alcohol, equal a standard drink. You might end up drinking more than you realise.
- Drink water or alternate between an alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink throughout the night.
- Don’t let your friends pressure you into drinking. If they can’t accept that you don’t want to drink then it’s their problem not yours.