Why we’ve got the wrong ideas when it comes to bingeing

English: ABV number on a bottle of absinthe.

If the consumption of alcohol has been declining in Britain since 2004, as reported by the Office of National Statistics, why then does the Government need to consider introducing a minimum price for alcohol?

There is no logic to it, especially as there has been no decline in alcohol related deaths in that period.

The problems around booze and binge drinking are nothing to do with price, and more to do with attitudes and education and the way that those young people who do drink actually take their drink.

When I was a lad drinking was not the mess it is now. Whilst at school, Saturday nights in the Bull in Highgate consisted of several games of darts, 3 pints of light and bitter and a bowl of cockles just before going back to school (this was a boarding school). And all for a pound.

And when not at school the drinking was often in the rugby club and in the company of adults, who showed that drinking with mates often lead to song and easy entertainment, sometimes followed by a curry and bed before midnight. It was not a route to getting drunk for the sake of it.

Now here’s the thing: when we did drink, we were usually full before we were drunk. We had no interest in spirits, shots or slammers and we should remember that the beer had been produced to be drunk, not to make us drunk. London beers tended to be circa 3.6% – 4% ABV at the most. Now the “Extra strong” has taken over as the weapon of choice, whereas the only Extra Strong we knew were the mints we sucked as we went back to the boarding house!

The Government should scrap this price rise and instead focus on helping people to understand the impact of binge drinking. If the ONS is correct then the messages about health are getting through, just not to every sector of society.

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