The dangers of binge drinking

2019-09-25 06:01

MENTION drinking and one’s thoughts usually turn to students partying, but research shows that many adults also regularly drink enough alcohol in one sitting to be considered binging.

Various sources have different definitions for binge drinking. England’s National Health Service defines it as “drinking lots of alcohol in a short space of time or drinking to get drunk”.

Closer to home, the World Health Organization ranks South Africa 59th highest of 195 countries for heavy episodic drinking among those who drink, this means at least 60 grams or more of pure alcohol on at least one occasion in the past 30 days.

According to evidence on binge drinking in the National Income Dynamics Study (2014 – 2015) published by the South African Medical Journal, one in three South Africans reported drinking alcohol, while one in seven reported binge drinking on an average day on which alcohol was consumed. The study defined binge drinking as an individual who reported consumption of more than five standard drinks on an average drinking day.

Of drinkers, 43 % reported binge drinking (48,2% males, 32,4% females). The prevalence of self-reported binge drinking was highest among males and females aged 25 to 34 years. Dangerous alcohol consumption varies from occasional hazardous drinking to daily heavy drinking.

Harmful alcohol consumption is associated with health and safety problems, including cardiovascular diseases, liver cirrhosis and various types of cancer; risky behaviour which could lead to the transmission of infectious diseases, and could lead to road accidents and violence.

According to the World Health Organisation’s 2011 Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health, each year 320 000 people between the age of 15 and 29 die from alcohol-related causes, representing nine percent of all deaths in that age group.

“For many young people, especially students, intoxication is usually the main goal of drinking,” said Pamela Nkuna, Smart Drinking and CSR manager Africa at SAB.

“With intoxication comes other dangers, including lack of judgment about one’s personal safety and health concerns, and even alcohol poisoning which can be fatal.

“It is important that people drink in moderation. Pace yourself carefully — no more than one drink per hour. With the introduction of no and low-alcohol beers, such as Castle Free and Hansa Golden Crisp, SAB is giving consumers more choice and smarter drinking options to pace oneself in between beers. Have something to eat. Drinking excessively, to get drunk, is very dangerous.”

As a general rule for responsible drinking, one should aim to consume no more than one unit of alcohol per hour, amounting to about 10 ml of pure alcohol. The number of units in your drink depends on its size and strength. One’s body can only process one unit of alcohol per hour

A draft glass of low-strength beer is two units, while a bottle of lager is 1,7 units and a cider 1,5 units.

“People who weigh less than 68 kg should be aware that their bodies will take a longer time to process alcohol and should drink less and more slowly.”

As an example, a 350 ml bottle of Castle Lager, which has an alcohol by volume (ABV) of five percent, has 1,75 units of alcohol and therefore should be consumed over approximately two hours.

Remember, if you are going to drink, arrange a lift to and from your venue.

If you or a loved one is looking for help, you can call the organisations listed below.

• Alcoholics Anonymous at 0861 HELP AA (435-722).

• The South African Depression and Anxiety Group at 0800 21 22 23. — Supplied.

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