Thursday, July 26, 2007
Binge Drinking: a Problem out of Control
Harris points out that:
i) Alcohol, according to an RSA study, if classified as a drug, would be between A and B: in other words, made illegal.
ii) Alcohol is now 55% more affordable than it was 25 years ago and can be bought in some supermarkets at a price cheaper than bottled water: e.g. 60 cans for £20 at Tesco. At least when I was binge drinking, its availability was limited by cost and when the money ran out we had to stagger home to sleep it off.
iii) There are 7.1 million 'hazardous and harmful drinkers' and alcohol linked hospital admissions have doubled over the last ten years.
He could also have mentioned the fact that over 40% of 18-34 year olds are binge drinkers; the high percentage of violent crimes which are caused by alcohol; or the billions of pounds lost through work absences; or the thousands of families shattered by alcoholism; or the fact that people of my vintage rarely now visit Manchester's centre- where Harris says there is now room for 200,000 drinkers- because it seems like 200, 000 binge drinkers have descended upon the city and filled up all the doorways with urine and the city air with ghastly, manic shouting. See what I mean about the Meldrew rant there?)
But what to do? Banning drink in certain areas of the city- as has been tried elsewhere- might be an idea; raising the drinking age- as in USA- to 21; or simply increasing the price to make it a less attractive option. But this course- not favoured by the Treasury- would be a huge blow to the urban economies of this country and, if young people will find the money to buy various species of drugs, won't they raise the funds for their cans of Stella and Fosters just as easily? But, before the youth of this country, urinate the better part of their internal organs-including their brains- against the walls of our cities, something really has to be done.
I think you are right, however, to see alcohol abuse as a problem, but wrong to see alcohol itself as the _cause_ of the problem. Many teenagers, myself included not so very long ago, had access to alcohol as teenagers and though I enjoyed it well enough, did not to my recollection 'binge' drink nor indulge in much in the way of anti-social behaviour while we were about it.
Perhaps to find a solution to the problem of alcohol abuse we need to look a little more closely at the cause - bad parenting sounds so very Daily Mail but the Victor Mildrew in me can't but wonder ...
I agree re parenting but doing anything about that is even more beyond our or our government's powers.
I like Paul's theory although if true I'm not sure how that helps solve the problem. Any ideas for how to make beer last longer?
Flippancy aside, I'm told genes are the reason why we drink so much to begin with. The Europeans made water safe to drink by converting it to ale; the Chinese went for tea. Hence, they didn't develop a resistant gene, and the average European can drink the average Chinese under the table.
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