Why There is Binge Drinking

Sunday, 10 June 2007

[Picture of Girl Binge Drinker Pissed]BINGE DRINKING is often in the press: “Something should be done about it”.

Any attempt to solve the binge-drinking problem must first surely attempt to understand why it exists and how it came about.

  • When Local Authorities began building out-of-town shopping centres, and when enterprise zones and the like created industrial estates — place of work that were on green field sites near motorways and transport links — city centres began to die.
  • Then Local Authorities decided to pedestrianise city centre streets and create bypasses and one way systems for cars. Without passing trade, with fewer local residents and with much fewer commuters and businesses, city centres were declared officially dead.
  • Then came ideas about rejuvenating the city centres, often around canals, river banks and shorelines (think: Newcastle, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, and Bristol). Pubs and Nightclubs were the key ingredient — to bring city centres back to life required yuppies to buy new apartments and for young people to live it up in refurbished areas that were filled with pub chains — Rat & Parrot, Yates’s Wine Lodge, All Bar One, JD Wetherspoons and so forth– and fast food joints like Chiquitos, Frankie & Benny’s, Fatty Arbuckle’s, Burger King, MacDonald’s, Pizza Hut, etc.

[Picture of Binge Drinkers]If you think about it, a young person will most likely live in an out-of-town, suburban housing development, and will drive to an out-of-town industrial estate to work, and drive to an out-of-town shopping centre and cinema complex. It’s all driving — and you cannot risk drink-driving, but taxi-cabs are too expensive as the distances tend to be great, and public transport has never kept up with the trend for ever-later hours.

The fact is that drink-driving is a danger even the next morning when driving to work.

[Picture of Girl Binge Drinkers]Now, when you think about it, it becomes clear — a young person can only really drink on Friday and Saturday night to be fit to drive to work. There may be bowling clubs or golf clubs nearby — but the trendy clubs are all together in the regenerated city centres — and everyone will be there, it will make an Ibiza-like atmosphere, with better chances of fun, sharing taxis and trains, and completely free of the car!

On top of that, a young person can only really afford to go out once each month — on pay day! That is when the worse binges occur.

Older and divorced singles tend to have the funds to afford the new apartments in city centres — and they love the buzz of the night life and the singles scene… again, without a car and worries about drink driving.

Cities with football stadia also have the problem of binge drinking at home games, particularly when games are at the weekend.

Possible solutions:

  • Make cheaper housing possible in city centres,
  • Encourage businesses and shops back (as opposed to favouring the car and the out-of-town office, factory and shop).
  • Stagger salaries so that pay days can be spread out across the month.
  • Move football stadia to out-of-town venues or play games in evenings mid-week
  • When building new out-of-town housing, give it a heart — some shops, a square, a pub or two — save people the trouble of driving or visiting the city

False Solutions:

To break up the city centre pub-club scene by creating new laws, adding restrictions, employing more policemen, installing CCTV, biometrics, DNA and fingerprinting, more ASBOs — all of these types of solution will move the problem elsewhere.

For example, if the pubs and clubs were closed down, or if the licensing laws were changed, young people would just stop drinking in city centres at pay day weekends — in favour of drink-driving anytime.

People are not the cause — they have to play with the cards they have been dealt — and the government since the war has been behind the car — motorways, massive shopping malls and supermarkets etc. Over half a century, the culture of the nation has been changed, and the present situation shows how something so organic as town planning should be left to chance and nature than to town planners!

The lesson here is not to interfere; the trend is for people to live and work in city centres, that’s a positive start!

7 Responses to “Why There is Binge Drinking”

  1. dave Says:

    The fact is that we have a culture of pub crawls and drunkenness. The only way to combat this is to force changes to the culture: get rid of student unions, close down night clubs and pubs earlier, have football games on earlier or mid-week, and change the way people are paid — maybe if benefits and salaries were paid weekly again, things would even out better?

    From the description you give of “young people”, I reckon you are talking about young professionals, possibly up to the age of 40, and certainly middle class. However, binge-drinking affects teenagers too (and under-agers), students, the unemployed, and single mums — the underclass who live in bleak rented accommodation — they use taxis and buses, and being over the limit the next day is not an issue!

    It is all about giving people the license to behave badly and blame the drink — it’s about celebrating irresponsibility, a release from tedium and boredom. Somehow, it abrogates, so no matter what you did, you were “out of your face”, so it’s ok and dead funny and a great night out! How on earth do you change that?

  2. Erick Says:

    Very interesting post containing good ideas, can I use you as a reference to a paper I am writing?

  3. Richard Durkan Says:

    YOU PPL R SO SICK U MAKE ME FEEL SICK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Box Hunter Says:

    Binge Drinking Measures Not Effective BMA Demands Alcohol Price Increases:

  5. neilrobbie Says:

    Your observations about the change of the social fabric of city centres are interesting but the problem with binge drinking is not one of the built environment. I grew up in a rural Scottish village, which had many your suggested environmental factors, before I moved to Glasgow, where the built environment more closely fits your description of the present. But I would get regularly legless with groups of friends in both places. External changes will not make a difference. Binge drinking is a matter of mind, will and heart.

  6. Single-James Says:

    Binge drinking has to have a cause, and as it doesn’t happen in mainland Europe, I would tend to agree that it was caused as you say by city centre pubs and clubs. Thus the blame is firmly with planning departments, councils and even the government for “regeneration” and for originally killing the city with pedestrianisation, traffic controls, bypasses and out of town shopping.
    It is one thing to cause binge drinking, but quite another to try to fix it.
    So while I agree with you as to why we have this problem, none of the solutions or false solutions can come close to a solution. The ONLY solution is to bring back national military service. Think about it, the answer lies in changing culture, and we cannot count on teachers or parents, so drastic measures have to be taken. National military service would also help reduce crime and obesity, and make huge saving in social security and national health bills. It would also bind us together in a national identity.

  7. Maddie Walton Says:

    I went binge drinking it wasn’t pretty

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