Youthful folly fuels most binge drinking: CAMH

According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), incidents of binge drinking among men and young people between the ages of 15 and 25 remain at elevated levels.

Justin Woodgett, a 20-year-old student at the University of Waterloo has experienced first hand, the effects of nightly binge drinking.

“You’re expected to drink hard,” Woodgett said.

One of Woodgett’s first experiences of binge drinking took place in high school around the age of 16.

A fellow schoolmate challenged Woodgett to take part in a game called “shot for a shot”. The object of the game is to take a shot (approximately one ounce of alcohol) after the other person. The first person to stop drinking loses.

In this game Woodgett drank approximately eight shots of strong alcohol within about 10 minutes. Woodgett forced himself to stop when he started to feel sick.

“People do it to show off,” Woodgett said. “It’s a test of who is man enough to do it.”

As reported by the CAMH, long-term effects of binge drinking can often result in alcohol dependency or addiction. It can also result in long-term physical damage to the body including liver damage, loss of liver function and cirrhosis of the liver or cancer.

Heavy alcohol intake can also cause heart disease, a stroke, a heart attack, high-blood pressure, decreased thinking abilities and brain damage such as the development of mental disorders.

“In the moment you feel great, but the day after you feel sick and depressed,” Woodgett said.

CAMH also reports that binge drinking can lead to harmful outcomes such as car accidents, unwanted pregnancy, sexual assault, sexually transmitted diseases, violence and alcohol poisoning.

Woodgett characterized his 20th birthday party as one of the worst times. After celebrating with friends at a downtown Toronto hotel, Woodgett became so drunk that when he woke the next morning he could not remember what had happened the night before.

“I woke up with a cut on my head and my glasses didn’t fit right,” Woodgett said.

Woodgett’s friends later told him that he tripped on the broken sole of his shoe and hit his head on a brick wall.

Mike Griffin, a former City of Toronto paramedic has attended countless calls where people have consumed too much alcohol or sustained injuries from alcohol related incidents, such as fighting or car accidents.

“Almost every call was alcohol related,” Griffin said. “If there wasn’t alcohol I wouldn’t have had a job.”

Griffin believes that alcohol abuse will never go away. He does, however, believe that we can help prevent alcohol-related deaths and injuries through education and alcohol abuse awareness.