Dangerous drinking is infectious

29 06 2008

Not many people are impressed by the Aussie government’s 70% tax on alcopop beverages in an effort to curb underage and binge drinking (four drinks a day!). Support is waning as public outcry increases (and scare campaigns emerge), and some authorities are definitely doubting whetehr it is the most effective solution to a real problem.

At Nature some new data is suggesting that binge drinkers may be more influenced by other binge drinkers than anything else. The story is hidden now for non-subscribers, but the study found that bingers (self identified) were more likely to say they had friends who binged as well, than those who didn’t identify themselves as bingers.

Now, I do have a bit of an issue with self identifying the bingeing. People in denial about bingeing behaviour might extend that denial to their friends – and/or – people may wish to excuse their own behaviour by claiming everyone else is doing it too.

From my own experience, I think this study might have some weight. Your friends definitely influence the way you do things. People are social animals, and readily adapt to fit in. Peer influence is definitely an issue at hand at here. I think more awareness against peer pressure, such as the Becky’s Not Drinking Tonight campaign is definitely a goer in combating alcohol abuse by a young population.

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