Alcohol misuse, in the form of binge drinking, is prevalent among young people and seems to be a distinctive characteristic of the British drinking culture (parliament.co.uk). In describing Britain as a binge drinking culture, a history of alcohol consumption in Britain shall be analysed. The definition ‘binge drinking’ shall be explored with a view to ascertaining whether it has a single or universal meaning. There is no doubt that alcohol consumption has been in existence within the British society for thousands of years (Eastman, 1984). Theories of excessive alcohol consumption, the effects of that style of drinking and the repercussions on the drinker and the society shall be examined. Government social policies and their impact on ‘binge drinking’ shall be assessed with a view to ascertaining their effectiveness. What is binge drinking?
Moore et al 1994, described binge as a pattern of drinking that that involves high consumption levels over a short time period. It is a term used to refer to the consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol which leads to a rapid increase of alcohol concentration in one’s blood and drunkenness (parliament.co.uk).
It is also a kind of alcohol consumption which involves an element of a risk to health and social problems (Harnett et al., 2000). There appears to be no one universal way of defining the term ‘binge drinking’ (Engineer et al, 2003; Murgraff et al., 1999) and it may “denote ‘excessive,’ immoderate, or heavy drinking” (Plant and Plant 2006). The problem with finding that one proper definition is compounded by the subjective nature of the effect of alcohol consumption on individuals and the fact that statistics may not be deemed to be easy to gather effectively and in a convincing manner (Midanik, 1999).
Binge drinking may refer to a sustained consumption of alcohol over a long period either with or without the express intention of getting intoxicated to a level that renders the drinker incapable of normal functioning. It may also be the consumption of highly concentrated alcoholic drinks in a short period of time with an express intention of getting oneself intoxicated. In some cases other alcohol consumers may consume a huge quantity of alcohol and yet may remain in control of their actions while others may have just a smaller quantity and yet may lose control over their normal selves. What appears to be common in the current literature on binge drinking is that it can be explained in different ways although those different terms may be referring to the same thing, that is a certain way of consuming alcohol which has health risks to the alcohol user and also to the social atmosphere of others (Newburn and Shiner, 2001). The government published the recommended alcohol consumption guideline in which men may drink up to 28 units while women are recommended to consume 21 units of alcoholic drinks a week. ( appendix 1). Theories;
There are a number of theories of binge drinking that have been used by a variety of writers over a long period of time. Alcohol consumption has been taking place for centuries and the history of the world is full of stories on alcohol consumption and related behaviour that follows, most of it being viewed as negative, excessive drinking (Eastman, 1984). The theory of moral panic in the society has been used to explain why there appears to be public concern surrounding issues of binge drinking (Cohen, 1972). While statistics may not produce convincing evidence that binge drinking is on the increase in this era than the previous years, the media, especially newspapers, radio and television, have been accused of whipping up public debate in circumstances where there may not even be an increase in binge drinking. The moral panic theory is centred on the view that it is easier to whip up public concern on issues that the society deem to be of a deviant nature which is harmful to...