Heavy alcohol consumption the norm: WDAT

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A MASCULINE drinking culture is driving regional alcohol consumption as baby boomers and generation X’s attempt to ‘keep up with the boys’, a La Trobe University study found. 

Wimmera Drug Action Taskforce’s Sally Pymer said within the Wimmera, there was an expectation everyone consumed alcohol. 

“If you don’t drink, you are seen as a little odd,” she said.

“Fitting in is important for many people, so it is often easier to just drink like everyone else rather than be an outsider.”

Ms Pymer said drinking to excess was viewed as a normal behaviour for many people. 

“With not as many activities to do in rural areas, compared to city areas, there is not as much choice of social activities to attend and not as many people to associate with socially,” she said.

“This can often lead to drinking heavily for something to do. Over time I think it has become expectation that is what you do. 

“Many rural people may now just drink in excess not thinking about the consequences and harms they are causing to themselves and or the community because it is viewed as ‘normal’ behaviour.”

The study found a shift away from consuming at licensed venues, with many in the 36 to 70 year-old age group indicating they drink at home instead. 

Ms Pymer said consuming drinks at home might meant people weren’t exposed to public drunkenness – but it could have ongoing ramifications for those in the house.  

“When drinking at home, underage children are also exposed to the drinking behaviours,” she said.

“This can contribute to the alcohol culture and belief that is what adults do.”  

Ms Pymer said drinking at home can easily get out of control, with no pub staff to limit consumption or intervene during an altercation.

“Drinking at home may mean more alcohol is consumed,” she said.

“Pubs have to abide with responsible service of alcohol with some amount of restriction occurring. At home there is no real restriction of alcohol with drinkers able to drink as much as they like. 

“This could result in injuries, violence etc of both those adults and children in their care, with the possibility of no one sober to keep things under control.”

“Drinking at home can also be a way to hide an alcohol problem because not as many people are exposed to your level and amount of alcohol consumption.”