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01 May 2007

Oh, THAT meaning of sober.
posted by mischief 01 May | 23:39
Interesting. If the French have a higher rate of cirrhosis, then that suggests more older alcoholic drinkers, because cirrhosis is an illness caused by long-term drinking.

The big problem in the UK is binge drinking by young people. In the town where I grew up (Derby, a mid-sized Midlands city) there was always a lot of pubs, but they were the small local pubs. But over the last few years the town centre has been transformed.

All the buildings I recognised as a child - the main post office, banks, cinemas, car showrooms, the electricity board's HQ, council offices, department stores, etc - have been converted into pubs. And they aren't nice, cosy intimate pubs either, but vast drinking dens and sports bars. At weekends (and some week nights too) they are full to bursting point with young people, and the sole purpose of the night is to get as drunk as possible as quickly and as cheaply as possible. The breweries encourage this with 'Happy Hours' that last from 5pm to 8pm, and special offers on certain drinks.

When I was in Ohio at Christmas, I spent one evening with George's 3 nephews (aged 24, 21 and 19) and a group of their friends. We sat round playing cards and silly games, drinking Coke and having a great laugh.

One of the girls asked me what she'd be doing if she was in Englnad. It was Saturday night, 23 December, and I said "you'd be out getting drunk". "No, seriously". "I am being serious". I explained about the drinking culture, and they couldn't believe it.

Now these are all college kids, who have, of course, done their share of partying at school, but over here it's a whole different mindset.

There's been a huge rise in the number of deaths amongst young people as a result of drinking. These aren't the slow deaths of cirrhosis (although there will be a number of people who've set themselves along that path), but things like alcohol poisoning, people falling over and cracking their head on the kerb, and, sadly, a large rise in the number of drink-related murders as a result of drunken fights.

I haven't seen binge drinking on such a scale as a social norm anywhere else. OK, other countries have their festivals and holidays which seem to be dedicated to drinking (like Oktoberfest, Mardi Gras) but it's only in the UK (or any part of Europe which is a popular holiday destination for Brits) that you see binge-drinking day in, day out, by young people, as their only means of social recreation.
posted by essexjan 02 May | 01:06
Damn it, Can't we Brits excel at anything.
posted by seanyboy 02 May | 02:15
But it is a myth that the French don't have drinking problems. In fact, despite variations in how the illness is defined, it is broadly accepted that alcoholism is worse in France than in the UK.
ce living in Europe (3 years in France and 1 year in Italy), while public drunkeness is certainly frowned upon and considered a social taboo in both cultures, I didn't notice much temperance when visiting with friends in their homes. I'm not sure why there is any surprise over this, as alcoholism is more a private affliction than a public nuisance, so I wouldn't have expected alcoholism rates to be any lower in France than they are anywhere else.
posted by psmealey 02 May | 06:35
Beltane is for pansies... || I so need these Big Lebowski action figures