Binge drinking, peer pressure and Neknominate

By on 19/02/2014 in Blog, Cllr Bedser
Cllr Steve Bedser

Cllr Steve Bedser

Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Steve Bedser looks at the online drinking craze NekNominate and reflects on wider problems associated with alcohol misuse.

I'm very aware that in my role as Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, it's very easy to come across as a killjoy.

“Eat this…not that.

Drink less…exercise more.”

It can seem like I'm preaching but I try to be honest and I certainly try not to judge. I'm a former smoker who until just a few years ago did very little exercise. I like the occasional drink and I don't always eat salad…

But part of my role is to advise and raise awareness in the hope that people across Birmingham will lead longer, healthier and more fulfilling lives.

That was the case last week when I was interviewed by BBC WM about the social media drinking game NekNominate.

Just in case the story has passed you by, the NekNominate craze involves participants filming themselves consuming large amounts of alcohol in one go, nominating someone else to continue the game, and posting the video on Facebook.

At the time I spoke to the BBC, there were no high profile cases in Birmingham but a report in today's Birmingham Mail highlights 'Birmingham students risking lives with deadly drinking game'.

The report states:

Birmingham students are risking their lives by taking part in deadly drinking game NekNomination. More than 100 students at the University of Birmingham are said to have taken part in the booze-fuelled games of chicken, it has been claimed.

Now I'm not going to pretend for one minute that I have an unblemished record. Back in my student days - I'm showing my age here - it was the Yard of Ale and, like most of my friends, I accepted the challenge. Young people have always been subjected to peer pressure when it comes to drinking and NekNominate is just the latest craze to hit the headlines.

As with any form of binge drinking, this game could have disastrous consequences for some. But the wider issue here is the unhealthy relationship some people have with alcohol. There have always been and always will be people who misuse alcohol. All too often that spells misery for the individual, their family and the community they live in.

The NekNominate craze has been linked to three deaths - a tragic waste. But the tragedy and suffering associated with drinking to excess does not end there.

The figures are shocking.

  • Alcohol is a key factor in a large number of issues, including accident and emergency admissions, troubled families, domestic violence and safeguarding.
  • A quarter of casualty attendences and over 10 per cent of all hospital admissions are linked to alcohol.
  • Fifty per cent of domestic violence cases are predicated by alcohol
  • A third of troubled families are troubled because of alcohol and a significant number of children brought into care because of parental misuse of alcohol.

NekNominate may be getting all the headlines at the moment but I suspect this craze will disappear as quickly as it has emerged. In the longer term we will still be faced with the impact and consequences of alcohol misuse.

That's one of the big public health challenges in Birmingham and impacts on far too many people. So I will continue to speak out on the issues that have a negative, sometimes disastrous impact, on the lives of people in this city and if that makes me a killjoy, so be it.

Drinkaware calls on parents to stand up against online drinking games

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