In the United States, when one thinks of binge drinking the first thing most people think of is a fraternity toga party. There is much debate over what actually defines binge drinking. The definition of binge drinking that is most often acknowledged is drinking twenty five or more drinks for men and eighteen drinks or more for women on one occasion.
Binge drinking is usually associated with intoxication and being in a large group of people. However, people around the world may have a different perception of what binge drinking consists of. Different behaviors, different liquors, and difference of opinion as to what is considered acceptable will define binge drinking.
A culture of binge drinking is prevalent among many communities, for example at high schools, universities, at parties, amongst some Aboriginal groups and in sporting clubs. Those who are able to consume large amounts of alcohol are often held in high regard by their peers.
Binge drinking and getting drunk to a point of complete loss of control may not only be accepted but encouraged. Drinking to this extent often begins, in a minority of social circles, at as young as 13 and 14, and may be very widely practiced and accepted by most by age 16 or 17. This is the main advantage of binge drinking in Australia; it is passed off by the younger generations as "being Australian" and is seen as a perfectly normal cultural practice for some.
University students are often found binge drinking. It is common for drinking to be accompanied by hostile behavior. During the first week of orientation which is known as ‘frosh’ week, college students are known for binge drinking. In fact, many university towns and cities in Canada include drinking sub cultures.
As a general rule, European children have exposure to alcohol much earlier than American children, with the approval of parents. In most countries, the drinking age is eighteen, and in many restaurants as well as other jurisdictions adolescents can order certain alcohols with a parent’s supervision. Diluted wines and other mixed drinks may also be given to children as well. In several countries including: Denmark, Germany, Portugal, Austria, the Netherlands, and the legal drinking age in Belgium is sixteen. It is generally believed that binge drinking is less prevalent in the southern part of the continent; France, Italy and the Mediterranean.
In Russia, binge drinking or ‘zapoy’ usually consists of two days of continuous drunkenness. Close to fifty percent of working age Russian men are killed by alcohol abuse.
Big bottle drinking or ‘botellon’ is something that youth between sixteen and twenty four often do. Drinks are purchased in stores and taken to wide open spaces where friends sit, drink and listen to music. Most drink three to five drinks in less than five hours which consists of binge drinking.
In the majority of Europe, alcohol is to be consumed with a meal over the course of an evening. In the UK however, alcohol is drank quickly and in massive quantities usually leading to drunkenness. In fact on a given night out, young adults are pressured into not only drinking but getting drunk. UK officials have begun to regard this as a more serious issue because of the number of casualties that have occurred related to binge drinking. In 2003 the cost of binge drinking in the UK was estimated as twenty billion pounds. In January 2005, one million admissions to UK accident and emergency units were alcohol-related.
Eight or more drinks in one session are considered to be binge drinking in New Zealand. The drinking age in New Zealand was recently dropped from twenty to eighteen. The argument being, at eighteen individuals are able to serve in war and vote, as well as other adult activities so drinking should be no different. This lead to more problems as opposed to alleviating concerns as more underage drinkers would ask their counterparts to buy them liquor.
The most prevalent age for binge drinking in South Africa is between eighteen and thirty five years of age. The word 'Phuza' in Zula is translated as drink is often used to describe ‘Phuza Thursday’. In the event that someone is hung over one might say he or she is ‘Phuza face’.
University students are often characterized as having a propensity for drinking even though the drinking age in the U.S. is twenty one. Athletes and fraternity/sorority members are the stereotypical heavy drinks, especially at football games, after final exams and on spring break when there were typically no rules enforced. An explanation for binge drinking behavior is university students are on their own for the first time without parental supervision and drinking is considered the cool thing to do. It is arguable that the twenty one year old drinking age is the reason why youth drinks more. There are just as many arguments against the lowering the drinking age.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found binge drinking is most prevalent in the following states: Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The survey found that the lowest binge-drinking rate in the U.S. was in Utah.
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