Binge Drinking

Binge Drinking

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.

United Kingdom

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.

New Zealand

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.

South Africa

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’.

United States

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.


  1. Binge Drinking: Key Facts and Issues. International Center for Alcohol Policies. Last accessed November 20, 2006.
  2. "Alcohol Alert Digest", Institute of Alcohol Studies, UK
  3. Nemtsov, Alexander (2005). Russia: alcohol yesterday and today. Addiction 100 (2), 146–149.
  4. Tomkins, S, L. Saburova, N. Kiryanov, E. Andreev, M. McKee, V. Shkolnikov, D. A. Leon (2007). Prevalence and socio-economic distribution of hazardous patterns of alcohol drinking: study of alcohol consumption in men aged 25-54 years in Izhevsk, Russia. Addiction 102 (4), 544–553.
  5. Treml, Vladimir G. (1982). Death from Alcohol Poisoning in the USSR. Soviet Studies 34 (4), 487-505.
  6. BBC Binge drinking costing billions 19 September 2003
  7. Kapka Kassabova The unbearable lightness of being English
  8. Perkins HW, Linkenbach J, Dejong W. Estimated blood alcohol levels reached by "binge" and "nonbinge" drinkers: a survey of young adults in Montana. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors 2001 Dec;15(4):317-20.
  9. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and alcoholism. Alcohol Tolerance (Alcohol Alert number 31 from NIAA). Washington, DC: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 1996.

Topic Discussion

  1. Addict

    Drinking is going to happen, whether we like it or not; teenagers are going to do it no matter what the rules are so making the drinking age higher just makes teenagers want to rebel more, and just as its written above^^ even though the united states has a higher drinking age they are known for their rebellious drinking parties and large consumption of alcohol.
    Every country is different and consumes alcohol differently but there is no country that doesn't drink at all.
    even though it can be a scarier thing to lower the drinking age for mothers, it is more practical because people who drink at a younger age wont have such a problem with alcohol in the future, in my opinion anyway.

    • Addict


      I agree with yout that underage drinking is going to happen however; I don't believe the drinking age should be lowered. In My Opionion at the age of 21 individuals are still immature and make irresponsible decisions more often than not. I honestly feel that people don't truely mature until around the age of 25.

      I personally grew up around alcohol abuse, drug abuse, sexual abuse and mental abuse. I personally don't abuse any form of drugs, I don't smoke cigarettes and when I drink I usually stop around three drinks. The reason I choose not to use or abuse drugs and alcohol is because after my child experiences it scares me.

      From my own personal experience if kids grew up in a home with alcohol abuse and drug abuse those kids became alcohol and drug dependent more often than not. Kids raised in homes where there was no drug abuse or alcohol abuse grew up to try alcohol and drugs. Some of those kids becamse dependent on the drugs and alcohol.

      I truly believe it is up to the individual to make their decisions on wether or not to use and abuse substances but I also agree that depending on the stubstance they abuse it is easy to become dependent and hard to get clean.

      There is a new substance abuse section under resources. This section talks about different drugs, the side effects, warnings, withdrawals and much more. One of the drugs included is Alcohol and you may find the information helpful. The link has been provided below.
      Alcohol Addiction

      • Addict

        I'd like to point out that if we as a society believe that individuals are old enough to be trusted with high power weaponry, heavy machinery, very expensive equipment, or even classified information at the age of 18 years old. Why then, do we not allow these same people to drink alcohol? I'm not promoting the idea of binge drinking and all out abuse, but seriously, either that person is of an adult age or is not. Ya have to pick a side and stand on it, not sit straddling the fence and say, " Yes, you're an adult and you can die for your country, but you're too young to have a few beers while on leave."

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