In some societies, binge drinking often happens in groups. So, what starts as a challenge or a competition to get intoxicated, could very well be carried over to the next few days and ultimately lead to addiction and dependency.
With time, the definition and reasons for binge drinking too have altered a little. According to www.kidshealth.com, while earlier binge drinking used to mean heavy drinking over many days, now it means excess consumption of alcohol over a short period of time. There are various yardsticks to measure if the consumption qualifies as normal drinking or is above the permissible limits. Different countries have different definitions of binge drinking. While in the U.S, it could mean consumption of five or more drinks in a row by men and consumption of four or more drinks by women, in the U.K, in other countries, it is defined as 'multi-day heavy drinking session during which the drinker neglects his responsibilities or otherwise behaves recklessly (International Center for Alcohol Policies ).
According to Buddy.T, (www.About.com: Alcoholism), there has been a lot of research in this field and British researchers have come up with various classifications of these heavy drinkers to help overcome this problem at all levels. A sum of nearly $5 billion is spent every year by the British National Health Service under healthcare expenses to cater to alcohol related illnesses. The researchers have identified nine types of heavy drinkers based on the socio-psychological causes that lead to heavy drinking.
The Culture of Excess Leads to Addiction and Dependency
While the developing nations too face the problem of alcoholism and binge drinking among their population, it is the developed nations where the problem is growing by huge proportions. The culture of excess: excess in the form of excess pocket money or financial reserves, excess exposure and excess stress in the form of social acceptance lay the foundation for addiction and dependency. A culture driven by the fast-changing social norms, crumbling social values and unstable family backgrounds prompt the young adults in the developed world to take to alcohol at an early age. While in most countries people are considered adults by the age of eighteen, the habit of drinking generally starts by the age of fifteen or sixteen. An orthodox family and social background might be helpful in curbing or completely avoiding the problem to a great extent.
The case of developing nations might be slightly different. Where the parents are hardly able to make both ends meet, there might not be anything left to splurge on the children, especially teenagers, after catering to the basic necessities of life. So, in a way, the social evil is avoided. While binge drinking might not be completely absent, the incidence of the same among teenagers and young adults might be less in these countries.
According to DRUG REHABS.ORG, a part of a non-profit social betterment organization, available at
http://www.drug-rehabs.org/binge-drinking.htm [13th March, 2009],
'Nearly 14 million people in the United States, 1 in every 13 adults, engage in binge drinking or are considered alcoholics. However, more men than women are alcohol dependent or experience alcohol-related problems. In addition, rates of alcohol problems are highest among young adults ages 18-29 and lowest among adults 65 years and older.