Binge Drinking Culture Recognised
17 NOVEMBER 2005
New Zealanders are increasingly recognising the existence of a binge drinking culture in this country and are starting
to recognise the link between drunkenness and the range of harms that result, says Alcohol Advisory Council (ALAC) Chief
Executive Officer Dr Mike MacAvoy.
ALAC today released the results of a survey carried out in March and April this year which looked at the current
attitudes and behaviours of New Zealanders aged 12 and over towards alcohol. This follows a similar survey in 2003.
“We commissioned the survey to see if attitudes had changed over the last two years. We also wanted to test the outcomes
of our programme aimed at changing this toleration of binge drinking.
“What we found was that attitudes haven’t changed around the acceptability of drunkenness which is to be expected as
this stage of the programme. What is important though is that people are beginning to see there is a problem with the
way we drink and they are also making the link between drunkenness and the harms that result,” he says.
“In the past when asked about the harms that result from alcohol, many people focused solely on drink driving or
dependency,” says Dr MacAvoy. “This survey shows that more people are starting to recognise the others harms that result
from alcohol misuse such as crime, violence, falls, accidental injury and relationship problems.”
ALAC is currently running a programme aimed at changing New Zealand’s binge drinking culture. The first stage of the
campaign aims to get New Zealanders to understand the problem.
“At this stage of the campaign we are aiming to get New Zealanders to recognise that it’s the way we drink that is the
problem, that it is the excessive per occasion consumption or drunkenness,” says Dr MacAvoy.
The survey shows the message is being picked up with some 83 percent surveyed recalling some publicity about New
Zealanders drinking habits. With regard to the key message, almost half recalled the key message ‘It’s not the drinking;
it’s how we are drinking’.
The survey also shows New Zealanders are beginning to make the link between drunkenness and the harms that result.
In total three quarters of respondents agreed that they were more likely to cause harm to themselves or to others if
they were intoxicated. A range of harms was identified apart from drink driving, including violence/fighting, accidents
and other physical harm and domestic/family violence.
“We believe the see campaign is effective, and having an impact on awareness of drinking issues. The next stage of the
campaign focusing on getting people to recognise their own behaviour in the overall scheme will follow next year.”