Chemist Direct warns against excessive binge drinking during the holiday season

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According to UCL Department of Epidemiology the culture of binge drinking in the UK is markedly higher than that of other European nations, with the average adult consuming approximately eight alcoholic drinks within a relatively short space of time or drinking with the express purpose of getting drunk. 1

Binge Drinking

Binge Drinking Detrimental to Health

When drinking over the holiday’s, try to pace yourself, avoid drinking more than you are used to and avoid drinking so much that you get drunk.

Government figures show 10 million adults in England regularly exceed the recommended daily limits, increasing their risk of serious illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, liver disease and various cancers. NHS guidelines advise no more than two to three units a day for women or three to four units for men - roughly equal to a large glass of wine for women and two pints of beer for men. 2

The British combine Northern European volumes of consumption with frequency resembling that of Southern Europe and this prevalence to drinking more than the weekly guidelines increases by 15 per cent in men and 11 per cent in women. That equates to 80 drinks over the course of the average holiday, or well over 200 units of alcohol.

More than a quarter said they ended up drinking three times more than normal. Men are more likely to binge drink (up to 81 percent of alcohol binges are done by men) than women and men are also more likely to develop alcohol dependence than women. But 70% of the 3,500 adults questioned by the Department of Health said they plan to cut back. 3

Researchers also found that almost 30 per cent of alcohol consumed in 2005 was "unrecorded" alcohol -- referring to alcohol not intended for consumption, home-brewed alcohol, and illegally produced alcohol. In some regions, unrecorded alcohol constituted more than half of all alcohol consumed.

"The amount of unrecorded alcohol consumed is a particular problem, as its consumption is not impacted by public health alcohol policies, such as taxation, which can moderate consumption," said Dr. Jürgen Rehm, a study author and director of CAMH's Social and Epidemiological Research Department.

However, this definition does not apply to everyone because the tolerance and the speed of drinking in a session varies from person to person. People who are homozygous for the ALDH2 gene are less likely to binge drink due to severe adverse effects which occur even with moderate amounts of alcohol consumption. Binge drinking increases the risk of heart attack. It could cause you to vomit and if you’re sick when very drunk you could breathe in your own vomit and suffocate. 4

Symptoms of Intoxication:

  •     Loss of balance, concentration and inhibitions, headache (due to dehydration), irrational behaviour such as arguments or violence, memory loss, blackouts, drowsiness
  •     Blurred vision
  •     Slurred speech
  •     Rapid pulse
  •     Breathing problems
  •     Trembling hands, pins and needles
  •     Upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhoea
  •     Hypoglycaemia
  •     Impaired sexual performance, sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies due to lack of inhibition when drunk, impotence in men
  •     Bruising and cuts due to falling when drunk

*Short-term effects may be felt on the same or following day

As a reaction to the binge drinking epidemic in Britain, several charities have been created to raise awareness of the dangers of binge drinking and promote responsible drinking. Chemist Direct’s Pharmaceutical Superintendent, Omar El-Gohary, has this advice to add:

“When drinking over the holiday’s, try to pace yourself, avoid drinking more than you are used to and avoid drinking so much that you get drunk. This is even more important if you are out in risky or unfamiliar circumstances. You can easily lose control of what you do or say and may make risky decisions, thinking you’re invulnerable”.

“In addition to long term health risks of drinking to excess such as liver cirrhosis, kidney failure, diabetes and reduced fertility, drinking too much alcohol can lead to alcohol poisoning. The signs of alcohol poisoning can include confusion, irregular breathing, vomiting, seizures, low body temperature and unconsciousness. If you suspect someone has alcohol poisoning contact the emergency services and do not leave them alone until help has arrived”.



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Samantha Smith
Chemist Direct
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