THE rise in binge drinking in the young is a "fashion phenomenon" where drinkers are copying their associates' behaviour, new research has shown.
A study conducted at Durham University's Institute of Advanced Study and Volterra Consulting UK shows that social networking is a key factor in the spread of the rapid consumption of large amounts of alcohol binge drinking - which is blamed for serious anti-social and criminal behaviour.
Researchers say the findings have major implications for Government policy makers charged with tackling the problem, which has longer-term and costly health implications for the nation.
The research team, which estimates there are least one million binge drinkers in the 18-24 year old population participating in 1.5 million binge drinking events each week, used complex modelling techniques and interviews with 504 18-24 year olds to draw their conclusions.
Binge drinkers were defined as participants who got drunk on three or more drinks (women) or on four or more drinks (men) at least once a week, or having ten or more drinks but not necessarily getting drunk at least once a week (both men and women). Using this criteria, nearly one-fifth (16.2 per cent) of the young people surveyed were classed as binge drinkers.
Everyone in the survey was asked whether about the drinking behaviour of their friends, family and colleagues. Binge drinkers were more likely to describe their associates, particularly their friends, as fellow binge drinkers.
For example, 85 per cent of the binge drinkers thought that all, almost all or most of their friends are binge drinkers, compared to 41 per cent of non-binge drinkers who described all, almost all or most of their friends as binge drinkers.
Conversely, only three per cent of binge drinkers had no or hardly any friends that binge drank, compared to 22 per cent of non binge drinkers
The second part of the research set
|Contact: Paul Ormerod|