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Last Updated:  Thursday, 6 March, 2003, 07:39 GMT
Binge drinking damaging health
Many people do not believe binge sessions are harmful
Many people do not believe binge sessions are harmful
Binge drinking is putting the health of Northern Ireland's under-30s at risk, according to new research.

The Health Promotion Agency (HPA) found almost 75% of men aged 18-30 concentrated their alcohol intake in drinking sessions.

The agency has launched a campaign to highlight the problem on Thursday.

The initiative - 'Everybody can enjoy a drink - nobody enjoys a drunk' - is being backed up by a television advertisement.

The agency survey found that more than half of women aged 18-30 who take alcohol binge drink.

Blood pressure

HPA's Rob Phipps said there was a binge drinking culture in Northern Ireland.

"If we can encourage people not to get drunk and impact on other people's lives then we will all be better off for it," he said.

"There is evidence that on Mondays and Tuesdays, the blood pressure of people in Northern Ireland is higher than in France - and they drink too.

"Taking lots of drink in one go puts extra pressure on blood pressure and there are great risks of a heart attack.

This type of drinking generates acute intoxication which may be enjoyable initially but it quickly increases the likelihood of social problems
Dr Brian Gaffney
Health Promotion Agency

"Our campaign is not an anti-alcohol message, but an anti-drunk message," he said.

Dr Brian Gaffney, chief executive of the Health Promotion Agency, said 18-30-year-olds did not believe binge sessions were harmful.

"With this campaign we are not asking young people to curb their social life but encouraging them to review the way they drink and the consequences to their health and personal wellbeing," he said.

"This type of drinking generates acute intoxication which may be enjoyable initially, but it quickly increases the likelihood of social problems.

"For example, arguments turn into fights and street disturbances become violent. Accidents resulting from binge drinking generate an additional workload for A&E departments in hospitals."

'Increasingly normalised'

Research has shown that in the longer term, binge drinking can cause brain damage, long term memory loss, kidney disease and stroke.

In Northern Ireland, about 150 people a year die from diseases directly linked to alcohol misuse and a further 650 die because of diseases or injuries related to alcohol, said the HPA.

It said the social cost of alcohol misuse in Northern Ireland was estimated to be about 700m.

Jo Daykin, Northern Ireland Drugs and Alcohol Strategy Coordinator, said binge drinking had become increasingly "normalised".

"It is a sobering reality that if Northern Ireland's binge drinking culture continues it could result in a generation's health being lost to alcohol misuse," she said.




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC NI's Maggie Swarbrick:
"Research has shown that in the longer term, binge drinking can cause brain damage"



SEE ALSO:
Alcohol abuse 'killing hundreds'
14 Mar 02 |  Northern Ireland
Waiting lists hit all-time high
07 Mar 02 |  Northern Ireland


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