It means drinking more than the recommended level for adults – drinking more than four standard drinks at any one time.
It can also refer to drinking continuously for a number of days or weeks, occasional or irregular bouts of heavy drinking or drinking to deliberately get drunk.
There are many risks associated with binge drinking including memory loss, injury to yourself or others, dizziness, loss of coordination, diarrhoea, vomiting, lack of judgment and even alcohol poisoning – which can be fatal.
To learn more about the effects of alcohol, go to our Alcohol and your health section of the website.
Alcohol-related harm is a major cause of mortality and morbidity in Australia, causing around 3,000 deaths and 65,000 hospitalisations every year.8 In 2004-05, the annual cost to the Australian community of alcohol-related social problems was estimated at $15.3 billion.9
After tobacco, alcohol is the second largest contributor to drug-related harm in Australia, causing harmful effects in both the short and longer term.10 Short term (acute harm) relates to the risk of immediate harms from alcohol such as accidents, injuries and physical harms, often associated with drinking to intoxication, whilst longer term (chronic harm) reflects the detrimental effects on the body of the prolonged use of alcohol.
Overall the main causes of alcohol-related deaths are cancer, alcoholic liver cirrhosis and road trauma, although the proportions of these vary by life stage. Younger people are more likely to die from bouts of intoxication or road trauma, while older people are more likely to die from conditions related to long-term alcohol misuse.11
Alcohol has become more readily accessible over the past two decades, and harms resulting from drinking among young people have increased throughout the 1990s. For example, looking at all the harms experienced by young people 15-34 years of age, alcohol is responsible for more drug-related deaths and hospitalisations than all illicit drugs grouped together, and many more than tobacco.12
Back to Top
The National Binge Drinking Campaign
On 10 March 2008, the Australian Government announced the $53.5 million National Binge Drinking Strategy to address the high levels of binge drinking among young Australians. Binge drinking among young people is a community wide problem that demands a community wide response, including an emphasis on young people taking greater personal responsibility for their behaviour.
The campaign includes a $20 million hard-hitting social marketing campaign that will run over two years to confront young people about the costs and consequences of binge drinking.
Back to Top
Who is the campaign for and why?
The campaign’s primary target audiences are teenagers aged 15-17 and young adults aged 18-25 years.
Evidence shows that a high proportion of the alcohol consumed by both adolescent and young adult drinkers is at risky and high risk levels. For these reasons, 15-17 year olds and 18-25 year olds represent important target audiences for a campaign targeting the harms associated with binge drinking.
The secondary target audience is parents of 13-17 year olds.
While many parents believe they cannot influence their teenagers’ drinking, teenagers look to their parents to provide guidance and set boundaries of acceptable…