'Too many youngsters binge drinking'

2009-04-02 00:00

Funnels and fishbowls are the latest trends in drinking among young people. Recently a youngster from Pietermaritzburg is reported to have died allegedly after consuming huge amounts of alcohol in a fishbowl cocktail. He was alleged to have been part of a drinking club.

"These drinking clubs are formed by young people, more especially those in varsity, and they meet every week to see who can out-drink the others and who will vomit first," said Caro Smit of South Africans against Drunk Driving (SADD). Yesterday Smit said that some drinking clubs made their members drink between 15 to 30 units of alcohol. Smit said 16 units of alcohol is enough to kill a person.

"The requirement of funnelling used to be a case of beer [24 beers], but that is too much liquid to consume and it leads to vomiting. So now young people are funnelling more potent alcohol in order to get drunk quicker, meaning they consume more units of alcohol," said Smit.

Fishbowls are cocktails of alcoholic spirits in a large container - usually a goldfish bowl. "The problem with this type of drinking is that it is difficult to tell how many units of alcohol are consumed because so many different things are mixed," said Smit.

According to the South African Council for Alcohol and Drug dependence (Sanca), alcohol is the leading substance of abuse in the country. Statistics obtained by Sanca show that 67% of substance abusers are under the age of 35, half of those are under the age of 21.

Sandy Lund from Sanca said binge drinking can easily lead to death because it is possible to pass out in your own vomit and drown from choking on it.

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