Binge Drinking Culture- Has it gone too far? (an article by me)

May 13, 2010 at 4:34 am 5 comments

Hey guys 🙂 Here’s an article I’ve been working on about teenage binge drinking. Let me know what you think! I’m interested to hear your feedback. Also if there are any things you’d like me to write about, feel free to suggest them in the comment box below. (this article is copyrighted)

On Sunday May 9th, Kings College student James Webster, 16, died in his sleep due to suspected alcohol poisoning. At 7.15am the Paramedics were called in but it was too late, there was nothing they could do. He had stolen a bottle of Vodka from his Gran and snuck out to attend a friends 18th Birthday party. “I saw him sculling back some vodka – like maybe a quarter of a bottle – like water.” says friend Jamie Rodriguez. The boys parents claim that James behaviour was “Totally out of character” and they were absolutely devasted and shocked at the unexpected death. As far as they were concerned, James was at home studying and preparing for a Chemistry tutorial he claimed he’d be attending the next day. It was the first party James had ever been to and, evidently, his last.

For some, the death of James might come as a terrible shock, but to those more aware of the severity of the New Zealand binge drinking culture, this was inevitable. This is the beginning of a ticking time bomb, waiting to explode.

The statistics are frightening, and we should be reading them as serious warning bells, alarming us to the dangers that are merely waiting to happen. Unfortunately though, it appears that teens all over the country are suffering from a serious case of the “it-won’t-happen-to-me” syndrome. They all feel that even though they drink ridiculous amounts to the point of becoming comatose and combine it with smoking all kinds from tobacco to Marajuana, they’ll pass out, wake up (usually with a killer hangover), drive on down to Macca’s and carry on their lives business as usual.

The central problem here, is that Teens are drinking to get DRUNK, rather than to go out and enjoy one or two drinks with some friends.

Lets look at just some of the harmful affects Alcohol has on the body. (Source:

  • Long term drinking may result in permanent brain damage (Korsakoff’s Syndrome or ‘wet brain’), serious mental disorders, and addiction to alcohol.
  • High amounts of alcohol may cause breathing to stop, then death.

  • Lowered resistance to infection.

  • Chronic heavy drinking may cause alcoholic hepatitis (inflammation and destruction of liver cells) and then cirrhosis (irreversible lesions, scarring, and destruction of liver cells). Impairs the liver’s ability to remove yellow pigment, and skin appears yellow (jaundice).

  • Weakens the heart muscle and ability to pump blood (Cardiomyopathy).

  • Sexual functioning can be impaired and deteriorate, resulting in impotence and infertility, sometimes irreversible. Females also have a high risk of developing breast cancer.

  • Irritation and damage of esophagus lining, induces severe vomiting, hemorrhaging, pain and difficulty swallowing. Can contribute to throat cancer.

  • Irritation of stomach lining, can cause peptic ulcers, inflammation, bleeding lesions and cancer. Minute blood loss may deplete the body’s iron stores, causing irritability, lack of energy, headaches and dizziness.

  • The pancreas becomes stressed from having to create insulin to process the sugar present in alcohol. This creates a significant risk of pancreatitis, a chronic inflammation that can be fatal

  • Alcohol impairs the small intestine’s ability to process nutrients and vitamins.

  • Alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to absorb calcium, resulting in bones being weak, soft, brittle and thinner (Osteoporosis).

It’s hard to believe that teenagers are toying with these risk-factors so carelessly, without any consideration for the fatality they could cause.

Sure, they might look fit and healthy on the outside, but what about their organs on the inside? I’m sure they’d tell a different story.

It is no doubt that something urgently needs to be done to help counter this dangerous cycle, so, what IS being done?

Well last month (April 2010), the Law Comission released their much-anticipated report on targeting the out-of-control alcohol consumption in New Zealand.

One of their main plans to put in place is to raise the drinking age from 18 to 20. Is this enough? Is this a strict enough plan to make any dramatic impact on the rebellious, dangerous ways of youth? Should the responsible drinkers aged 18 to 19 be punished for the excesses of their drunken peers?

These are all questions that having been circling through the community in response to this proposal.

The alcohol statistics are shocking, in 2004, Christchurch ER doctors said the number of young adults between 18 and 20 presenting with potentially fatal alcohol poisoning had doubled since the age was lowered in 1999. Also, an Auckland study, also from 2004, showed the number of young people admitted with alcohol related injuries was 40 per cent higher than in 1999. (Statistics from If those were the figures 6 years ago, I hate to imagine the increase they have made up until now.

Some people may argue that New Zealand doesn’t have a problem and that this is simply the “norm” for teenagers and young adults. However, there is proof in the laws and statistics that New Zealand’s alcoholism ISN’T normal, and is a serious issue.

After the death of James Webster, parents are desperately trying to get the government and the media to address this binge drinking issue with a sense of urgency. But the messege to teens and their parents who are a part of the problem just doesn’t seem to be sinking in.

Despite the warnings we hear, the horrific Drink Driving ads we see on television, each weekend teenagers are hitting the town, or each others houses and drinking to frightening excess. How long will it be before we see another case like James’? How many more young lives is it going to take before something changes?


Entry filed under: Blogging, Health, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

Gettin’ my muscle on! Lazy Saturday.

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. ww_angel  |  May 13, 2010 at 7:42 am

    Wow, you are an awesome writer. Seriously! I know you are looking at a career more in the fitness industry but you really ought to consider careers more in the journalism field perhaps with a heath/fitness focus. You are so talented.

    • 2. jennylikestorun  |  May 13, 2010 at 6:49 pm

      awww thank you so much! 🙂 I really really apreciate your kind words. xoxo

  • 3. Lazy Saturday. « The Healthy Teenager  |  May 14, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    […] Music ← Binge Drinking Culture- Has it gone too far? (an article by me) […]

  • 4. Faaea O  |  October 13, 2010 at 2:34 am

    Have to say this article is great, I think that this will definately some readers minds about the issue of binge drinking seeing the horific consequences. Im a uni student doing an essay on this and I have ti say your article I find to be the most useful. Well Done and Keep it up !

  • 5. FYRE  |  October 13, 2010 at 2:36 am

    Have to say this article is excellent, I think that this will definately change some readers minds about the issue of binge drinking seeing the horific consequences. Im a first year student at Uni doing an essay on this and I have to say your article I find to be the most useful of all the materials I’ve found on New Zealanda drinking culture. Well Done and Keep it up !


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Hey there, my name's Jenny. I have a huge passion for cooking/baking, writing, yoga and photography. I love nature and my favourite thing to do is spend an entire day outside, breathing in crisp, fresh air. Even better if I have a pen and paper with me. I started out running in March 2009 but sustained an injury in October 2009 which has unfortunately prevented me from running. I've been experimenting with other kinds of exercise to find another one that clicks. Follow me on my journey to maintaining good health + surviving high school and pursuing a career in Journalism. I Hope you enjoy reading my blog!

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