Many of us drink alcohol on a regular basis, whether at home, in the pub or on a big night out. For those of you who tend towards the latter, what do you think the causes of this binge drinking are? Is it boredom? Are you looking for an exciting way to end the week by getting drunk with your friends? Or is there a chance you are using alcohol to escape from your problems?
Almost every day there is a news story claiming something else is bad for us, but when it comes to drinking alcohol to excess, not many of us seem to consider the health risks. According to a recent article in the Guardian, binge drinking has become so ingrained in British culture that no one bats an eyelid when you talk about getting hammered. Rather than bemoaning the evils of booze during the inevitable hangover, we tend to laugh it off. Why?
Some underestimate the influence of peer pressure, but you're a lot more likely to be a regular drinker if you surround yourself with like-minded friends. It all starts off innocently: you're having a couple of pints with your mates and one of them, if they're not the stingy type, decides to order another round of drinks. You can't possibly turn down the offer unless you have incredible will power or don't mind disappointing others, so you kindly thank your friend and have the free drink. Before you know it, you've consumed several units of alcohol and it's turned into a booze-laden night out.
If you don't have any meaningful long-term hobbies, you're more likely to get bored during the week. This can be a dangerous thing, especially for impressionable young people who are always looking for new ways to expend their energy. If none of your hobbies are related to keeping fit or maintaining a healthy diet, it's easy to fall into a lazy mind-set and turn to junk food and alcohol.
This is perhaps the most dangerous cause of drinking. If you're experiencing serious personal problems or are going through a particularly tough phase in your life, you shouldn't use alcohol as a coping mechanism. However, many people do so, and find themselves with bigger problems than before. When you become addicted to alcohol, you'll find it twice as difficult to quit due to the withdrawal symptoms. These can include feeling sick, shakiness, mood swings and sweating.
Becoming reliant on alcohol also increases your chances of becoming overweight or obese. Our most cherished alcoholic beverages are packed full of sugar and starch. Alcohol is calorie laden (containing seven per gram), meaning it's almost worse than fat itself. If more people were aware of just how much weight they're putting on through drinking alcohol, they would probably cut down on their intake.
Why not join the Dry January campaign and challenge yourself to go a whole month without drinking alcohol? This may be the kick-start you need to drink less or quit altogether.