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July 17, 2012 / Amy Bradney-George

Alcohol And Aussies: Are We The Only Weekend Bingers?

Is bingeing “peculiarly Australian”?

Australia has long had a reputation for drinking, particularly when it comes to beer, and it’s often taken to be part of the “laid back culture” here (whether or not we really are laid back is a topic for another time).

But a string of voilent and horrific alcohol-fuelled attacks has made people question whether Aussie’s go too far when it comes to drinking.

Last night I was watching The Project when the discussion about alcohol and violence in Australia came up, along with some interesting views about how Australians consume alcohol.

When asked if it was “just an Australian thing to get drunk and then punch on”, Associate Professor Anthony Shakeshaft said a “peculiarly sort of Australian thing” was the pattern of not drinking much during the week then bingeing on the weekends.

It reminded me of a conversation I had years ago, after drinking far too much at a party. As well as learning from my mistake, I got to hear about a friend from Germany’s experience with alcohol. She had been shocked by how excessive the drinking was and said she’d never seen anything like it. We were new to drinking at the time though, and since then I’ve seen and heard of people from all over the world bingeing.

So now, slightly older and (usually) wiser, I heard a professor saying that it was an Aussie thing to drink excessively on the weekend. While I might not be a booze expert, I couldn’t help but question this broad statement. Is it really just us?

Not according to most of the literature I found available when I did a quick search on the topic. One study on alcohol consumption in 10 European countries showed that “Alcohol consumption, particularly by women, increased markedly during the weekend in nearly all centres”. Another report, published on the United State’s National Institute of Health, dealt specifically with binge drinking and homicide in Russia.

So why do we assume or wonder whether it is just an Aussie thing? Shouldn’t we be looking at the global cultural perception of alcohol (and weekends) to see where we fit in the bigger scheme of things?

If we did, maybe we would find that these problems are not unique to Australia (as the study on Russia highlights), and come up with more effective solutions or even collaborations.

It just seems like making the issue appear to be unique to Australia is laying the blame with out culture. But it’s not just an Aussie thing, I think it’s more a western world attitude, if anything.

Otherwise how do you explain all the pop culture references to partying on the weekend? There are almost endless songs, films, tv shows and books that refer to drinking and weekends, or even drinking and violence - and they don’t all come from Australia.

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2 Comments

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  1. Jeszlene / Sep 25 2012 9:42 pm

    It might just stem from the ill-informed bogan stereotypes, or the fact that Aussie backpackers/travelers drink heaps when overseas, but come on, cheap(er) booze combined with vacation mode, why not? =)

  2. PCB / Feb 8 2014 6:53 am

    My Dear niece, I agree that “binge drinking” is being considered an “Aussie Thing” by “some people”. BUT the fact is that many, many Aussies do NOT drink to excess and so make a fool of themselves.
    May I add, you are very pretty in the picture. PCB.

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