Drinking Epidemic: Cultural problem

Technically:

“Men drinking more than eight units of alcohol on their heaviest drinking day in one week are considered to have binged.

For women, binge-drinking equates to drinking more than six units of alcohol in one day.

Two units of alcohol is roughly equivalent to one pint of normal strength lager or one medium-sized (175ml) glass of wine.”P1090667

Economically speaking, our binge drinking culture in the UK is profitable for the government.

When I first wanted to write this piece I was totally expecting to gather all the facts and figures and talk about how damaging this culture is. Which I am still going to do. But first I wanted to address this aspect.

Binge/Alcohol related costs: The Economy as a whole £4.9 billion which includes the extra policing. £3.5 billion in extra NHS costs thanks to alcohol. But unfortunately that’s where my cost figures end. Alcohol is so ingrained in our society that it’s almost impossible for someone without an economics degree to work out. Think about the extra social services costs when children are affected by parents drinking. Unplanned, unwanted, thanks to frequent drunken one night stands. There is just no way to work it all out. But it costs a lot.

Then I looked at how much the government makes from alcohol…it’s around £10.5 billion in revenue to the government.

Government Revenue Graphs

Alcohol Market Data

That revenue doesn’t even include the jobs that the industry supplies. From factories, vineyards and bar, it’s quite extensive.

So I guess financially the UK does actually benefit financially from the binge drinking culture.

But that is where the benefits stop.

P1090656

Drinking that level of alcohol consistently have have serious affects on your mental health in the long and short term. Some of these are through alcohol itself, what with it being a depressive n all, but others are through the actions you make while under the influence.

Whether it’s aggressive behaviour towards strangers, your friends or your partner. Irresponsibility that comes with being that drunk, either during or the morning after. Your work and relationships can suffer.

This is all together with the personal financial strain that drinking that much puts on you. I am always shocked to find out that people regularly spend between £50-80 on a weekend just by going out drinking. That price occasionally includes fast food and taxis but it is still a large financial drain. Imagine what you could do with that £300 otherwise? Uhm theatre, house renovations, holidays, all sorts. Just by cutting out the regular drinking.

But of course, the drinking itself isn’t the problem for many people. For most it is just the place and means to conduct the social act of being with friends, it just also happens to be in a pub.

I’m quite okay going out either on an afternoon or evening with friends in a pub and drinking soft drinks. Usually it’s because I have my car with me, and I value that freedom more than having a drink or two.

IMG_1919I used to live in Melbourne, and I can probably count on my fingers how many times I was drunk drunk. I’d go out plenty, I’d always be meeting friends for a late dinner, or going to some independent arty theatre thing and going to a cafe afterwards to chat. It’s actually amazing, walking around at 11pm and seeing cafes and restaurants still bustling, not just pubs. And there is demand for them, all my internet searches show people wanting more and more cafes to stay open later and later.

Its especially hard when you live in a cold country, as outdoor spaces can’t even be used throughout the summer as alternatives to pubs; but Glasgow does seem to be catching up, with a few more places accommodating non-drinkers, this may be to do with the fall in young binge drinkers according to the BBC. But I don’t see places like Newcastle giving up the ghost any time soon.P1090112

It is a cultural epidemic.

On one hand if businesses took the plunge and extended it’s opening hours then more people might use cafes and such rather than pubs, but that is a risky expense for businesses if they don’t already have the demand for it.

Why do Britons drink so much?

Its damaging your health, your bank balance, your relationships. For what? It seems fun at the time? Being drunk helps you talk to prospective partners? How many people actually hook up with someone drunk and have a fulfilling healthy relationship come out of it? Dutch courage has been taken way too far. Being drunk helps to deal with the life stress? Hum….the same could be said for any vice/drug really. I understand perhaps a glass of wine or two after work if it’s been a particularly bad day, just to take the edge off, or why if you’ve just lost your job that day or been dumped, it’s therapeutic perhaps to obliterate your mind…but it usually leads to embarrassment and regret which them compounds the original feelings. There is a big difference between enjoying the occasional drink and routinely partaking in binge drinking.

 

-Auburn xx

P1070277

Links mentioned above: https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/check-the-facts

http://concreteplayground.com/melbourne/food-drink/food-2/the-ten-best-late-night-eats-in-melbourne/

http://www.theurbanlist.com/melbourne/a-list/midnight-munch-melbournes-best-late-night-dining

http://www.scotcampus.com/10-cafes-open-late-glasgow

http://www.yelp.co.uk/search?find_desc=Late+Night+Coffee&find_loc=Glasgow

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