Binging Britain: Who is really suffering?

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What constitutes binge drinking, how you can tell if you are binge drinking and where you can go for help. Check this out – you may be in for a bit of a surprise! – Sasha Wylie reports


• What is binge drinking?

• How is binge drinking different to drinking normally?

• The effects of binge drinking

It’s a potentially fatal consequence of Britain’s binge drinking culture that has so far gone largely unrecognised. Young people in some cases consuming up to 5 litres of alcohol per day, ending up in hospital with liver failure.

What is binge drinking?

Binge drinking usually refers to drinking lots of alcohol in a short space of time or drinking to get drunk.


Researchers define binge drinking as consuming eight or more units in a single session for men and six or more for women.

How is binge drinking different to drinking normally?

Two large glasses of wine may not seem like very much. But drinking six units of alcohol in a short space of time will raise your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and could make you drunk very quickly. Drinking the same amount over several hours, and accompanied by food for example, will not have the same effect on your BAC.

The effects of binge drinking

Some studies show that drinking a large amount of alcohol over a short period of time may be significantly worse for your health than frequently drinking small quantities.

Getting very drunk can affect your physical and mental health:


•Accidents and falls are common because being drunk affects your balance and co-ordination. You’re also more likely to suffer head, hand and facial injuries. Binge drinking has also been linked to self-harm .

•In extreme cases, you could die. Overdosing on alcohol can stop you breathing or stop your heart, or you could choke on your vomit.

•Nearly a third (29%) of alcohol related deaths are a result of alcohol related accidents. These deaths are more common among 16–34-year-olds.

•Binge drinking can affect your mood and your memory and in the longer term can lead to serious mental health problems.

One of the main effects of binge drinking is what effect it has on the ambulance service and the NHS.  Waiting time breaches reached record highs, emergency admissions soared, thousands of patients faced long waits on trolleys and there are talks of the NHS collapsing.

Yet alcohol and binge drinking costs the NHS around £2 billion each year according got the department of health. Out of this, most of these costs are borne by the front-line and mainstream NHS. Hospital services (inpatient and outpatient) account for 56% of the total. Ambulance services and accident emergency services, taken together, bear almost a third of these estimated costs, while hospital services account for over a half of the total.

Local Ambulance service-man Patrick Riely, commented on the affects he has seen being on the frontline dealing with binge drinkers:


“The first thing most of them do as we leave the scene is vomit. That then renders the ambulance off the road for an hour once that call has been finished because it has to be deep cleaned because of infection and so on.”

“Then you will get the ones where the ambulance crews have been assaulted…We have had cases of paramedics being sliced with knives, punched, kicked, ambulances being nicked just as a prank through somebody being drunk and driving it into a row of cars.”

The Police are another frontline service having to deal with the problem of binge drinking and alcohol related arrests. Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, has urged reform of the licensing system, suggesting the number of bars and pubs in the country be reduced in order to stem the rising tide of alcohol related violence.

Police now have a growing concern about the number of underage drinkers and those who are now drinking on the street.


Dozens of bottles of beer, cider and spirits were taken from young people in Portrush and Portstewart. The Police Service of Northern Ireland’s north coast team posted a photograph of the haul on their Facebook and Twitter accounts.

They appealed to parents to be aware of the problem of underage drinking:

“Constables Burns and Coyle are pictured with drink seized from under 18s in the Ports on Easter Monday. Too much alcohol impairs judgement and is risky for young people who mightn’t know their limits. The young people didn’t realise it at the time, but police seizing the drink probably saved them from alot of bother. Please also remember it’s an offence to buy drink for under 18s. Police will seize drink all summer long if we need to”.

Doctor McKay commented on the affects he has seen because of binge drinking. Listen here 

He called for a change in attitudes to drinking.

He said: “The role of the NHS should not just be about treating the consequences of alcohol relatedharm but also about active prevention, early intervention, and working in partnership with services in local communities to raise awareness of alcohol-related harm.”

If you have been affected by anything in this article visit for the facts.

Related articles can be found here and here




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