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binge drinking

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Alcohol Action Ireland (AAI) is calling on the Finance Minister to maintain the excise duties on alcohol in its pre-budget submission.

Ireland's consumption of drink is a shocking 80 percent above the global average, which is huge cause for concern according to the AAI. 

Alcohol Action Ireland CEO Sheila Gilheany says binge-drinking is causing an array of issues, mainly among young people. Ireland's 18 to 24-year-old age group are Europe's number one binge drinkers.

The submission claims that the nation's pattern of alcohol consumption is measured at 11 litres of alcohol being consumed per capita every year.

"This persistent high level of harmful drinking equates to 41 litres of gin/vodka, 116 bottles of wine or 445 pints of beer per person aged 15+," the report states.

Sheila Gilheany spoke on the matter: "That very heavy level of drinking leads to a lot of harm both to the individuals themselves and also in a wider capacity."

"There is a lot of other harm to families and to children. One-in-six children are living in homes which we would call 'alcohol impacted' families. There is a big burden on the workplace as well."

The AAI estimate that approximately 60,000 young people under the age of 18 will start drinking every year.

"For people who start drinking early, even greater harm is done to them as individuals," said Sheila Gilheany.

AAI said that excise duties on alcohol products have only changed three times since 2002 and has failed to keep up with the rate of inflation.

It renewed its calls for the establishment of a Social Responsibility Fund to invest in primary care psychology services in order to meet the needs of those impacted by parental alcohol misuse.

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We all love a girls night out on the town, but this new survey has given us a bit of a jolt. New statistics have shown that Irish women placed fourth in a table of 189 countries investigating heavy drinking.

Basically, we are some of the biggest binge drinkers in the entire world…Let that sink in. The global study shows that 40 percent of Irish people are genuinely classed as binge drinkers, which is shocking.

The large shift in recent years from drinking in bars and pubs to to purchasing alcohol in supermarkets and off-licences has accounted for the majority of alcohol sales in Ireland. Home consumption makes it far more difficult to keep track of your drinking.

Overall, including men and intersex people, Ireland ranks fifth in the world rankings of drinkers.

Only women in Moldova, Lithuania and the Czech Republic were found to drink more than Irish women. The Irish drink over 13 litres of alcohol each year, according to the Lancet medical journal.

Ireland has the second highest rate of binge drinking in the world, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), and this was confirmed by the Healthy Ireland (2015) survey.

'The National Alcohol Diary Survey', carried out by the HRB, found that 75 percent of the alcohol consumed in Ireland in 2013 was done through binge drinking. Alcohol intake in this country is typically underestimated by around 60 percent.

The study also showed that the number of teetotaliers is actually dropping, going from 19 percent of the nation in 1990 to just nine percent in 2017.

Research estimates that by 2030, half of all adults in the entire world will drink alcohol. This is a major change from the past, when people refrained for health or religious reasons. Nearly a quarter of the population will binge drink at least once a month.

According to Alcohol Ireland, binge drinking is defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO), as six or more standard drinks in one session, which is the equivalent of three or more pints of beer or six or more pub measures of spirits."

Through binge drinking, people are far more likely to make errors in judgement, engage in violence, drive while drunk or experience negative mental health side effects.

Be careful, ladies (and gents), and brush up on your knowledge of the standard drinking amounts. If you're binge drinking at home, it's important to know the risks.

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New figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) indicate Ireland's young people are the biggest binge drinkers in the European Union.

According to the statistics, 26.8 per cent of Irish men and 15 per cent of women, aged between 18 and 24, engaged in binge drinking at least once a week in 2014 – well above the European average.

Binge-drinking is defined as consuming six or more drinks at a time, “equivalent to three pints of beer or six pub measures of spirits”.

Mediterranean and Eastern European countries were found to have the lowest rates of binge drinking, and the issue is more prevalent in men that women across the continent.

The report also showed just under a quarter of Irish males (aged 15 and over), and a fifth of females were regular smokers.

Speaking about the figures, Dr Bobby Smyth, of Alcohol Action Ireland, said: “Binge-drinking is normalised in Ireland, and we have to stop this with policy to help improve the health of our future children.”

“The State needs to put the health of children and the young ahead of profits for the drink industry, and this is a public health matter.”

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We've all been there; you've a big day ahead and yet word is quickly spreading in your favourite WhatsApp group that a session is on the agenda.

After telling yourself you'll take it easy, you head out for drinks certain that you'll manage to tear yourself away from the banter at a reasonable hour while still steady on your pins.

Then the craic really gets going.

And with next to no effort you manage to massively reduce the importance of the following day, and opt instead to launch yourself into the session with all the enthusiasm of Frank the Tank.

This apparent inability to limit alcohol intake has been recognised by VicHealth, which has spent $300,000 on a trial project which seeks to guide university students and ultimately reduce the number of individuals binge-drinking on a  regular basis.

The medical research organisation at the Burnet Institute have created an app which essentially acts as a 'cyber parent' and requires the individual to consider the implications of their drinking habits.

The idea of the app is that it is interactive," said designer and developer Dr Megan Lim. "You register with the app and then [set it] saying which night you might be going out."

"On that particular night, at 6:00pm, you will get a message asking you to take a survey," she continued. "The survey will ask students questions like: "Do you have work tomorrow?", or "What time do you intend on going home?"

After recording the answers to these questions, the app will send helpful suggestions and reminders throughout the evening including "You have spent more than you wanted to tonight" or "Don't forget you have an exam at 8:00am tomorrow."

"Reducing the social acceptability of risky drinking is key to changing young people's behaviour – we want uni students to understand you don't have to get drunk to have a good time," opined Jerril Rechter, VicHealth's CEO,.

The app is not yet available to the public, and while we applaud the initiative we wonder how many people will properly engage with the process.

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Drinking and college life; they just go hand in hand, don't they?

Along with ditching lectures, sleeping until noon and buying countless spiral-bound notebooks which you will never use, the media would have us believe that binge drinking is the sole preoccupation of most third-level students.

And while –  generally speaking – they're not that wide of the mark, the vast majority of us make it out of this phase of our lives with a clearer knowledge of our limits, and a distinct distaste for certain alcoholic drinks which we associate with 'that one time'.

We graduate university with a degree, a sense of achievement and a handful of experiences we'd rather not repeat… if we're lucky, that is.

The less fortunate among us take a little longer to establish that drinking to excess is a fool's game, and make a valiant attempt to adopt a more level-headed attitude towards alcohol.

And the desperately unlucky among us don't get a chance to make it out at all.

Earlier this week, the Miami University Police Department released a 25-page report outlining the events which led to the death of 18-year-old Erica Buschick – a freshman at Ohio's Miami University.

Found dead in her college dorm after a night of drinking last month, the run-up to Erica's death is comparable to nights experienced by thousands of other college students around the world.

After sharing two bottles of champagne with a friend, the pair made their way to a party where they drank vodka which Erica had decanted into a reusable bottle.

An hour and a half later, Erica was considered too drunk to gain entry into a local establishment, and was ultimately brought home to sleep it off in her dorm

The following morning, the 18-year-old was found dead on a beanbag; cold to the touch, another statistic in an incredibly bleak narrative.

And while Erica's story is, without question, the worst case scenario, the lightbulb moment which encourages an individual to address their attitude towards alcohol is far from consistent across the board.

I mean, what needs to happen before you realise you're drinking too much?

How many cases of The Fear do you have to endure before you start questioning whether you've been overdoing it on the ol' drink front?

Should it be when you find yourself wading across a river in order to rescue the handbag you sacrificed to the water the night before?

Or is it when you discover you're sporting a black eye, bruised cheek and split lip only after your mother wakes you up, hands you a mirror and informs you 'liberated' a stranger's bike and crashed it into a wall the night before?

Or how about when you find yourself in a stranger's home with no memory of how you got there, and a distinct feeling you'd rather be anywhere else in the world at that moment?

As a college student, none of these scenarios were enough to tell me that drinking to the stage where I black out and put myself in danger was a bad move.

I mean, in theory, I knew they weren't my finest hours, but with just enough filtering and some clever perspective, I could spin these incidents into funny anecdotes I would willingly share with other people.

"Oh, that vodka. What will it have me doing next?" "Look at my black eye! Amn't I just GAS?"

An outsider looking in could have come to the blithe conclusion that I was drinking to silence some inner demon or getting drunk to drown out the bigger issues, but they'd be wrong.

I was drinking cos it was great craic. I was drinking cos I enjoyed it. And I was drinking to get drunk because it was the done thing.

It was accepted.

Getting hammered was the name of the game, coming home with war stories for your friends (if you could remember them) was encouraged, and doing it over and over again throughout your time in college was par for the course.

With the benefit of hindsight, the vast majority of us would do anything to prevent our younger selves from engaging in the carry-on we deemed acceptable at the time.

While we may look back fondly on most nights out, many of us have a handful that we'd rather bring to our grave than repeat in polite company.

And in extreme cases, there are still some which we struggle to believe didn't end with the arrival of an ambulance or police car to our family home.

Most of us will always be grateful that we made it out of this period with a clearer perspective on the importance of our wellbeing, but if Erica's story teaches us anything, it's that not everyone gets the chance.

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Many of us have heard that “eating is cheating” when it comes to drinking, but how dangerous is it to actually believe and apply that concept in reality?

Well according to new research carried out by the University of Houston, combining alcohol consumption with more extreme diet type behaviours can lead to a condition called “drunkorexia”.

Science Daily have defined drunkorexia as “a non-medical term that refers to a combination of alcohol with diet-related behaviours such as food restriction, excessive exercising, or bingeing and purging” – basically cutting calories in various ways to avoid alcohol-related weight-gain, get drunk easier or both.

Although drunkorexia is not a new phenomenon, this study suggests it is now affecting more people than ever before with 80% of the 1,184 students surveyed having recently engaged in at least one drunkorexic behaviour.

Assistant Professor Dipali Rinker who was involved in the study said: "College students appear to engage in these behaviors to increase alcohol effects or reduce alcohol-related calories by engaging in bulimic-type or diet/exercising/calorie-restricted eating behaviours." 

According to the study, women were more likely to engage in bulimic-type behaviours than men but men and women were equally likely to skip meals if they planned a heavy night of drinking.

Experts have warned that drunkorexic behaviour can have negative consequences in both the long and short terms.

Not eating before drinking heavily increases the chances of blacking out, being injured and making decisions you'll regret later on.

As always drinking in moderation is advised, as is following a healthy diet and exercise regime.

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Feeling a little worse for wear after the weekend? Well then, you might want to give this article a miss!

New research has suggested that even one big boozy night out could cause permanent damage to their health.

Researchers in the US say that even one heavy drinking session can cause bacteria to leak from the gut, causing increased levels of toxins in the blood.

Eek!

The researchers, at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, say these toxins cause the body to produce immune cells involved in fever, inflammation and tissue destruction.

“We found that a single alcohol binge can elicit an immune response, potentially impacting the health of an otherwise healthy individual,” said lead author Gyongyi Szabo. “Our observations suggest that an alcohol binge is more dangerous than previously thought.”

Binge drinking is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as five or more drinks for men, or four or more drinks for women, in about two hours, depending on body weight.

Some scary post-weekend reading!

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Most of us have woken up after a night out wanting to jump in a time machine to the moment before we ordered that round of shots, and just go home instead.

And while most of us curse the heavens and yell ‘NEVER AGAIN!’ into the toilet bowl, we always manage to find ourselves back there again.

While there’s nothing wrong with letting your hair down now and again, the latest figure from the World Health Organisation (WHO) have revealed some really scary facts about alcohol.

According to WHO, dangerous alcohol consumption was responsible for 3.3 million deaths worldwide in 2012.

“This actually translates into one death every 10 seconds,” Shekhar Saxena from WHO said.

On average, every person in the world age 15 and older drinks 6.2 liters of pure alcohol a year, according to the report.

However, less than half the world’s population drinks any alcohol, which means people who do, drink an average of around 17 litres of pure alcohol a year.

Scarily, binge drinking among women, including those living in Ireland, is on the rise.

And according to the graph, Ireland ranks in the second highest category of worldwide alcohol consumption, with an average intake of between 10-12.4 litres per person over the age of 15, in 2010.

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After a night out, it’s pretty common to crave salty, fatty and not-so-good-for-you foods. But are you aware of how many calories you could be adding to your diet?

According to a survey of 2,042 by Slimming World, which was commissioned by YouGov, binge drinking can lead to the consumption of an extra 6,300 calories during the following 24 hours.

Nearly half of those surveyed, admitted to cancelling physical activity, preferring to stay in bed, watching telly and going on social media after a night out.

It doesn’t even take that much wine to leave you reaching for the fast food dial – just three large glasses.

The survey revealed that on a night out and the day after, those who took part in the poll, consumed an extra 2,829 calories in food, 1,476 in drink and 2,051 in extra calories the next day.

Head of nutrition and research at Slimming World Dr. Jacquie Lavin, says: “alcohol makes the food even more rewarding. It tastes good and feels even better than it would do normally.”

Maybe it’s time to put the glass of wine down, unless you want to gain 2lb.

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