Issue date: 29 October 2004

ISSUE DATE: 29/10/04

‘Binge Drinking Problems and Responses’ an international conference
The Watershed, Bristol, 26 November 2004

“Government plans to extend bar opening hours to 24 hours are seriously misconceived,” says Martin Plant, Professor of Addiction Studies at the University of the West of England. “This strange proposal is akin to throwing petrol on a bonfire in the light of a serious increase in binge drinking that has been causing massive problems across the country in recent times. It is unlikely that this change will do anything to persuade many people to drink in a more relaxed and civilised manner. What is really needed is a national system of local action plans. These could involve flexible bar closing times, but would also include the careful regulation of licensed premises and public places in order to minimise the problems associated with heavy and inappropriate drinking. We do need a culture change, but this will take time and needs sustained commitment from all concerned. There is no short term fix here.”

Professor Martin Plant will be joined by expert speakers from Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and the UK at this international conference at which over 200 people are expected. Most of the tickets have already sold out in advance and professionals and individuals who have an interest in the subject are advised to book now to secure a place.

Speakers will address the social and health impact of this growing trend including: an examination of what constitutes binge drinking; binge drinking and school students; binge drinking and adults; the economics of binge drinking; the medical effects of binge drinking and the impact of binge drinking on city centre safety

Professor Plant explains “Binge drinking is commonly taken to mean drinking or getting drunk, or risky drinking. The British, and those in many other countries, have traditionally done a lot of their drinking in high intake sessions, especially on Friday and Saturday evenings. The pattern of ‘carousing’ has been associated, not only with relaxation and pleasure, but also with various problems for centuries.
“In recent years alcohol consumption has risen amongst some groups of people and associated health, social, family and pubic order problems have increased and give great cause for concern. There is evidence that the traditional male dominance in relation to some of these problems has been diminished by the emergence of heavy drinking ‘ladette’ culture among young women.”

The conference will review national and international evidence on the scale and nature of ‘binge drinking’ and its effects. The medical and economic consequences of binge and high intake alcohol consumption will be considered together with details of British, Canadian and other responses to cope with the problems caused by large numbers of people drinking too much. The way forward will be charted in terms of practical, effective harm minimisation. The meeting will be of value to anybody with a personal or professional interest in alcohol consumption and its possible effects.

Binge Drinking: Problems and Responses is organised jointly by the University of the West of England and two charities. These are the Addictions Forum and the Alcohol and Health Research Trust.

Editor’s notes

The Alcohol and Research Trust was established to carry out research into beverage alcohol, together with other social and health issues. The latter include tobacco, illicit and prescribed drugs, HIV/AIDS, risk taking and sexual behaviour; and to publish and disseminate information for the benefit of researchers, clinicians, professionals, students and others concerned with the above themes; to work in co-operation with researchers, students and professionals concerned with alcohol or other social or health issues to assist researchers, students and others in the conduct of their work related to alcohol or other social or health issues. Members or the research team have produced over 250 scientific publications including over 20 books. The A&HRT is a registered charity (SC027580).

The Addiction Forum, a membership organisation, exists to foster a balanced discussion about alcohol, tobacco, illicit and prescribed drugs, together with issues such as risk taking and HIV/AIDS. The Forum arranges an annual residential training event at Durham Castle. It has also staged conferences and other meetings throughout the UK as well as in Iceland, India, Ireland and the Netherlands. The Addictions Forum is a registered Charity (1015523).

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