Britain Riding The ‘Booze Bus’ To Binge Drinking Crisis
Britain is neck-deep into a binge drinking crisis and the most affected are its youth say the health experts. Not a very good image to project to the world, especially when the 2012 Olympics are just round the corner. Quite a scary situation! Read on for more...
1) Public Display of Shame
It is not only the Soho district of London, known for its entertainment avenues, where girls slumped with vomit bags tied around like bibs, can be seen waiting unconsciously for the “Booze Bus”, which would take them to a discreet clinic. During the night, the bus picks up a lot of such inebriated people, who are passed out from drinking. Besides these young girls, there are other shameful signs too like teenagers getting physical on the sidewalks, women stumbling their way to home, and the sidewalks littered with empty bottles and vomit puddles. More than binge drinking, it is the way people behave after getting drunk that is more a cause of concern. Jamie Bartlett, a London-based researcher, working with Demos, a think tank, explains, “The key point is the ways in which we behave when we’re drinking – it involves very public displays of reckless drunkenness. It’s not an issue of consumption. It’s an issue of behavior.”
2) A Serious Problem
If you want to take a guess at how serious this problem is, listen to what British health experts are saying. The “National Health Service” (NHS), which is already cash-strapped, has had to shell out $4.4 billion per year as cost for this problem. The expenditure was done on hospital admissions caused, directly or indirectly, due to binge-drinking. Moreover, liver disease is one of the major health threats to be on rise in Britain and it doesn’t take much to guess what could be the cause. Government states that in the past 10 years, instances of liver disease have increased by 25%. Doctors are accusing indiscriminate consumption of alcohol for the rise in obesity levels in Britain. Well, teens will be teens and they are not going to give up any chance to drink, even if it is on sly. And the fact that youngsters within the age group of late 20s and mid-30s are affected more severely should rattle the policy makers into action.
3) Binge Drinking Figures
A recent UK poll placed Brits among “Europe’s heaviest alcohol consumer” with one in four adults being a binge drinker. Those who have been seriously affected by the problem include:- people dealing with mid-life crisis, middle-class women, and even pupils who are eight years old. However, it doesn’t mean that the problem is particular to a class or social strata. When, in 2000, erstwhile Prime Minister Tony Blair’s son was found in a semi-conscious state, covered in vomit in London’s Leicester Square, it forced the nation to sit up and take notice of where its next generation was headed. Apart from other health risks, binge drinking also leads to brain damage, heart stroke, depression, and breast cancer.
4) Inadequate Law
The legal age for drinking in Britain starts at 18 years but that doesn’t mean that the drinkers don’t start at a younger age. The main cause for this is lax policies for retail sales and cheap alcohol available in Britain. The youngsters start with drinks bought at a shop and had at home before they are old enough or have enough money to head out to pubs and bars. Prime Minister David Cameron has already declared this problem as “a national scandal.” The government is also taking other steps to curb excessive drinking such as fixing a minimum price per unit of alcohol. While a section of the society thinks that such methods will make a difference most think there is no point in such methods.
It is not Britain only, which is struggling with this problem. There have already been dramatic findings on America’s binge drinking. In fact, on Purim this year, the Jewish leaders of America expressed concern over the drinking menace among Jewish youth. However, all said and done, binge drinking is a bigger problem in Britain, even more than serious health issues. Whether it will be curbed well in time depends on the direction which the law agencies take.
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