How much is too much?

Have you ever actually wondered how many drinks is considered as binge drinking?

Many of us don’t know when to stop and its having a detrimental effect on our health and the people around us.

Binge drinking does not in fact mean that you are an alcoholic or are dependent on alcohol most of you probably binge every Friday or Saturday night and you don’t even know it.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks or women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours.

Of course, your weight, height and other physical factors apply but I bet most of you are thinking that 5 drinks isn’t that much. So next time your out drinking with friends or family remember to monitor your drinks and the space of time you consume them.

 

 

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Its festival season! Lets not ruin the fun..

Australia’s summer festival season is well and truly into action with Falls Festival, Split Milk, FOMO, and Lost Paradise creeping up around the corner. I myself am a common festival goer and the festival drinking culture is definitely evident through the actions of majority of the people who attend.

Pre drinking is a large part of festival culture with no one wanting to line up for 20 minutes while at a music festival and miss the biggest acts (although most probably won’t remember them anyway).  If you’ve been to a festival before you’ll notice a few people not being let in or attempting to sober up a little outside the line to get in. Everyone is there to have a good time but why does it have to involve drinking?

There are so many reasons why drinking excessively before and during festivals is a bad idea, the usual hot days, early starts and long hours are just a few. It’s so easy to get dehydrated at festivals with lack of water in the heat and dancing around in tight crowds. You don’t want to be the person who needs medical assistance in the middle of a mosh or ruin your time there.

I’m sure most of you know all this already but are possible worried about the social exclusions you may face if choosing not to drink at big events such as festivals.

So, here are a few reasons why hopping on the sober train is a great option.

  1. Complete engagement with every act

When you’re not feeling real dizzy or even a little sick you can really take in the whole atmosphere of the festival. Your able to listen to the tunes and dance your heart out, focusing all your energy on your favourite songs. I mean what’s the point of going to a music festival if you don’t get to experience the music?

  1. Creating Memories

Being sober also means not forgetting a single moment of the event. Think about it, what will you remember in 10 years time, that awesome festival you went to and watched your favourite artist? Or when you fell asleep on the grass hill in broad daylight? Take your pick!

  1. Endurance

Festivals are long days of dancing until the sun goes down, with the right nutrition and enough hydration you’ll have all the energy to see all the acts you wanted and more! Also with the added bonus of no hangover the next morning.

Next festival choose the no booze way and enjoy every moment!

Photo by Joey Thompson

Sometimes it’s not just a choice but a way of life

Having a culture which has embedded binge drinking as the norm, Australian’s can sometimes find it hard to understand why people don’t drink alcohol. Someone who can down a beer in 3 seconds is often recognized as a ‘legend’, where people who don’t drink are usually peer pressured into drinking or are considered ‘weak’. This stigma still exists and can be quite uncomfortable for those who can’t drink due to their religion, culture or beliefs.

With Australia having a multicultural society we need to be able to recognise cultures which may prohibit drinking and understand that not everyone is the same when it comes to drinking habits. Everyone needs to be mindful of the specific religions which do prohibit or condone drinking alcohol.

Hinduism, the world’s oldest existent religion, disapproves of alcohol consumption, particularly excessive consumption, because they believe it interferes with leading a moral life. Similarly, in most Muslim countries, alcohol is banned on religious principles. Buddhists attitude towards alcohol and other intoxicants has similarities to both Islam and Christianity. Buddhists believe that using alcohol interferes with understanding the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, which lead to an awakening or enlightenment about the true nature of reality.

So when your next in a social situation where one of your friends lets you know they’re not drinking make sure you don’t pressure or shame them for their choice as sometimes it can be more than just a choice.

 

Photo by Patrick Fore

Its that time of year again

Yes, you heard it right it’s that time of year AGAIN. For the young 17 to 18 year olds in New South Wales it’s a stressful time of year, where HSC is just peeking around the corner coming with it endless nights of studying and cups of coffee. But what better way to blow off steam once it’s all over? Schoolies of course. Just another driving force of Australia’s binge drinking culture that we can add to the list…but hey, who’s counting.

The Gold Coast in particular will be injected with teenagers, tequila and testosterone as eager school leavers embark on their annual week of debauchery. It’s a tradition which started in the 70s on the Gold Coast and has spread all over Australia to Byron Bay, the Sunshine Coast, Airlie Beach and Lorne in Victoria. It lasts a week for underage teens then continues in the following week for 18 years and overs.

Schoolies may be the biggest contributor in promoting binge drinking among Australia’s youth. Especially within advertising and promoting of schoolies through websites and social media. If you’ve visited the official schoolies website recently you would have noticed the exhibiting of parties, drinking and debauched behaviour as they reassure you it’s “the best week of your life”.

If you are planning on taking a trip for schoolies consider going away in areas which are not peak for schoolies groups so you can take a trip with your friends secluded from all the pressures and chaos. Wouldn’t you rather enjoy spending time with your best friends on a beach and house to yourself, rather than be sharing the limited air in nightclub with a hundred-random people.

But, if you must give in to the pressures of society and go to schoolies here are a few rules to avoid binge drinking’

Rule 1: Drink a glass of water between each alcoholic drink

Rule 2: Do not scull a drink. If a friend asks you too just say your too drunk, or be honest and let them know you don’t want to.

Rule 3: Stick to max 3 for women or max 4 standards for men in the space of an hour

Rule 4: Do not mix alcoholic drinks

If you do get into any kind of trouble or any of your friends are, make sure you contact The Red Frogs or emergency services if it’s something serious. Red Frogs are always willing to give a helping hand (not to mention they actually hand out red frogs) and will be able to get to you quickly most of the time.

Note: The Red Frogs’ safety hotline for schoolies is 1300 557 123

Photo by Levi Guzman

What the Classic Australian drinking song is really doing

Everybody knows the classic Australian drinking song that people sing on your birthday to get you to down a drink. I never forget when I was first introduced to the song at my friends 18th Birthday party and everyone started shouting “she’s true blue she’s a piss pot through and through.” I was pretty confused what was happening at first but immediately got involved and learnt the words which was then sung at all other birthdays and I was happy to belt out the lyrics to be part of the atmosphere.

For those who don’t know, the song is sung by everyone around and ends with encouraging the individual to scull their drink by yelling “Sippp Sippp Sipp” sometimes followed on by “real men do it again”. It’s a tradition that no one actually knows where it originated from but has been passed down to today’s generation of youth.

Although it’s a well-known tradition in Australian culture it promotes bad drinking habits among youth and shouldn’t be promoted. The song is a form of peer pressure urging people to scull drinks when they may not even want to drink at all. Personally, as a young teen I know I would dread that part of my birthday party as I couldn’t drink that fast and didn’t want to but felt pressured into it. No one should have to feel as though they need to drink alcohol in social situations because everyone else is or as its part of the culture which has been embedded into us.

Sculling a drink in a short amount of time can have extreme negative impacts on your body. Alcohol poisoning happens when you drink a large amount of alcohol, usually over a short period of time. According to Drinkwise Australia, your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is so high that it is considered to be toxic. On average, your liver can only process one standard drink per hour, anything more than this will increase your BAC. The faster you drink, the higher your BAC will be, and the greater your chance of alcohol poisoning.

So next time you have a party and the drinking song begins, think about the effects it can have on yourself and your peers as well as your health. Its sometimes takes just one person to make a change.

Hey there, Sir-mix-a-lot

We all know at least one or are in fact one to mix drinks when out at a bar or club. If you are choosing to drink you should though stay away from mixing as it can increase your chances of binge drinking as well as worsening the hangover the next day. It’s not the actual mixing of drinks that causes intoxication but the actual amount consumed. Cocktails especially are dangerous as you don’t always know what’s in them and most have multiple spirits and liqueurs.

A BBC article by Claudia Hammond noted a review of previous research published in 2000 confirming that the causes of the main symptoms of hangovers are “dehydration, changes in the levels of hormones such as aldosterone and cortisol, and the toxic effects of alcohol itself”. In addition, there was evidence that the immune system is disrupted and that this could be the cause of the headache, the nausea and the fatigue which comes with drinking. Beer is only between a third and half the strength of wine, so starting on it leads to less intoxication if followed by the stronger stuff. But if a someone starts on wine or spirits, then their judgement may be impaired enough to drink more heavily later. There’s certainly evidence that people are not good at judging their own drunkenness. At low levels people overestimate the amount of alcohol in our blood, but after a few drinks they start to underestimate it.

So, if you are making the choice to drink, in order to avoid binge drinking mixing drinks is not a good idea and remaining to the same drink choice is highly recommended.

Photo by Mattias Diesel on Unsplash

Australian slang and traditions that are igniting the binge drinking culture

Australians have come up with drinking slang and traditions over generations of binge drinking. Some popular slang includes ‘double parked’ which involves having two drinks at the same time, ‘pissed’ meaning the person is drunk, ‘skull’ which is chugging a drink in one go. Although the most popular trend or tradition at the moment is doing a ‘shoey’.

Drinking beer out of one’s own shoe is a ritual sometimes undertaken at parties and events in Australia, where it is referred to as a ‘shoey. The shoe is tilted and the entire contents of a can of beer are poured into the shoe’s opening. Once the beverage has settled, the beer is drunk by tipping the shoe up to the mouth and chugging it. Australian MotoGP rider Jack Miller celebrated his first premier class victory by drinking champagne out of his shoe, at the Dutch circuit of Assen, on 26 June 2016. Since then, Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo, another Australian, has also performed ‘shoeys’ on the podium.

This ritual is popular in sports but also has risen in popularity amongst social media and news, platforms which are promoting the ritual as a funny and courageous act. Traditions like the ‘shoey’ create trends and attitudes, especially among young Australians and promote poor drinking behavior.

These Australian slang words and tradition spark a flame for the binge drinking culture in Australia which needs to be diffused in order to move forward and eliminate this culture.

Like and share if you agree!

 

Lets talk, alcohol and mental health

Did you know that alcohol actually alters your brain chemistry?

Alcohol is a depressant, which means it can disrupt the balance in your brain, affecting our thoughts, feelings and actions as well as our long-term mental health. This is partly down to ‘neurotransmitters’, chemicals that help to transmit signals from one nerve in the brain to another’ (drinkaware 2014).

One of the main problems associated with using alcohol to deal with mental health problems is that regular consumption of alcohol changes the chemistry of the brain. As a result of this, a recurring process begins where one drinks to relieve depression, which causes serotonin levels in the brain to be depleted, leading to one feeling even more depressed, and thus necessitating even more alcohol to then medicate this depression.

Drinking lowers inhibition. Typically, excessive alcohol consumption means fewer personal constraints are in place. Additionally, alcohol can disrupt our body’s ability to rest, resulting in our body needing to work harder to break down the alcohol in our system. This interference of alcohol with sleep patterns can lead to reduced energy levels.

Alcohol can also reveal or intensify our underlying feelings, such as evoking past memories of trauma or sparking any repressed feelings which are associated with painful events of the past. These memories can be so powerful that they create overwhelming anxiety, depression or shame. Re-living these memories whilst under the influence of alcohol can pose a threat to personal safety as well as the safety of others.

It’s important to understand that drinking excessively can interfere with your mental health as well as other risks.

If you do need help talk to a friend or family member for support or you can contact:

Lifeline 13 11 14 or the beyondblue info line 1300 22 4636

Photo by Nik Shuliahin