Binge Drinking Culture article- Edited and Updated version.

June 1, 2010 at 4:59 am Leave a comment

On Sunday May 9th, Kings College student James Webster, 16, died in his sleep due to suspected alcohol poisoning. "I saw him sculling back some vodka – like maybe a quarter of a bottle – like water." says friend Jamie Rodriguez. 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, signalling 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.

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.

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

In 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?

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).


Entry filed under: Health. Tags: , .

Day 3- Your Favourite Television Program Article- The global issue of Obesity and how it affects my local community

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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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