Culture change is what is needed

May 18th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Binge drinking could follow smoking in losing its fashionable status, says a Wellington emergency department consultant hoping a sobriety campaign will help reduce -related harm.

Hello Sunday Morning encourages those wanting to take a break from alcohol to blog on the booze-free experience. The project has already attracted hundreds of followers around New Zealand and is today being given a push with its national launch in Auckland.

Wellington Hospital emergency department consultant Mark Hussey said it “certainly sounds like a good idea” and thought the initiative may lead to binge drinking becoming “uncool” in the same way campaigns against smoking had worked, especially with young people.

This is exactly the sort of initiative that we need. It is a culture change among youth that will see a reduction in harm from alcohol.  It is not making it illegal for a 19 year old to buy a bottle of wine.

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40 Responses to “Culture change is what is needed”

  1. Andrei (2,664 comments) says:

    No the culture change that is required is to treat the hand wringers with the respect they deserve – that is derision.

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  2. Pete George (23,591 comments) says:

    I first started taking breaks from alcohol when I was about twenty. It took a bit of repeat explaining, especially in rugby social circles. Some people simple didn’t understand anyone would want to not booze up.

    Hello Sunday Morning is a good initiative, it raises attention and gives people a go at abstention.

    But ultimately the aim should be to take whatever micro breaks and possibly macro breaks you want to from alcohol. Drinking should be naturally optional, not a compulsion to always drink alcohol.

    More important than having symbolic breaks from drinking though is to minimise or stop getting pissed out of your tree, and to stop laughing at and glamorising self inflicted trashings

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  3. RRM (9,933 comments) says:

    Have noticed a couple of people on Facebook signing up to this.

    I’ve always thought there’s something weird about people who can’t regulate their drinking sensibly and end up needing to swear off the booze altogether. But whatever; if this does some good then awesome.

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  4. Tom Jackson (2,553 comments) says:

    PURITANISM, n: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy. — H.L. Mencken

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  5. Pete George (23,591 comments) says:

    No the culture change that is required is to treat the hand wringers with the respect they deserve – that is derision.

    Very strange comment Andrei. We’ve got a major binge drinking problem in New Zealand, it causes widespread social, crime, family and work problems. It’s not hand wringing to point out how stupid excessive self destructiveness is.

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  6. Griff (7,808 comments) says:

    Denial
    The ignoring of facts to support a world view
    75 % of hospital a&e admissions Thursday Friday and Saturday nite
    INVOLVE Alcohol do you piss heads understand?
    75%
    75%
    75%
    Do you piss heads understand
    3/4s of all A&E admissions in the weekend
    involve Alcohol
    3/4 is more than a few
    3/4 of admissions to A&E departments in the weekends is due to piss
    DO YOU COMPREHEND

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  7. Michael Mckee (1,091 comments) says:

    What a load of codswallop!

    DPF with respect, this is too ingrained a behaviour in NZ society (maybe the western world even).
    It is ludicrous that we provide ambulance people at weekends and treat the inebriated with out charging them both fiscally and criminally.
    What makes it worse, is that You (as a media person with a following/portal) are part of the problem.
    Drunk people causing trouble and behaving boorishly, stuff up other peoples evenings all the time and you lot laugh about it.

    It is simple, Until being drunk in public is as unacceptable socially as being a drunk driver it will not start to get sorted.
    Therefore we should deal to the former, namely people getting drunk in public.
    Then we can deal to the troublemakers.

    Being Drunk in public should be an offense.

    The problem is we don’t have the moral mettle to do so as too many of us are doing it.

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  8. Michael Mckee (1,091 comments) says:

    ohh and Andrei was using Satire.

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  9. nasska (11,580 comments) says:

    RRM

    …”I’ve always thought there’s something weird about people who can’t regulate their drinking sensibly and end up needing to swear off the booze altogether.”….

    There’s a good reason why some us never touch another drop once we’ve given up…..weird or not, we’re too scared that we might not be able to put down the bottle again.

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  10. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    lot’s of people would rather use the non-fatality-causing/much safer alternative.. cannabis..

    ..but don’t/can’t because it is illegal…

    ..so are forced to turn to/rely on the killer-drug..alcohol..

    (that harm/fatality-reduction is reason number 53 to legalise/tax cannabis…)

    phillip ure@whoar.co.nz

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  11. Pete George (23,591 comments) says:

    Being Drunk in public should be an offense.

    Just being drunk shouldn’t be an offence, but it should be seen for what it is, offensive if not kept under reasonable control.

    Being excessively pissed in public could be likened to pissing your pants in public – a lack of self control.

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  12. YesWeDid (1,048 comments) says:

    Kind of seems like the Catholic approach to birth control or AIDS – abstinence

    DPF – It’s been awhile since you’ve run one of your ‘how many hundreds of bottles of wine did I drink last year contests’. Things slowing down?

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  13. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    You are quite right

    making it illegal for 19 year olds to drink wont change anything, BUT

    enforcing the law that makes it illegal for 19 year olds WILL change a lot.

    Nothing like a night in the cooler eating cold noddles to concentrate the mind.

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  14. hmmokrightitis (1,590 comments) says:

    MM “Being Drunk in public should be an offense.”

    And how would you police that? We have drink across the roads at friends, and often walk back over the legal driving limit. Who is the victim, why should I be arrested? Last new years we walked up the road to friends, 10 minute away, got drunk, walked home. Walk home took quite a lot longer I must add.

    That notwithstanding, I drink maybe 2 or 3 nights a week, tops. Drunk, maybe 4 or 5 times a year. And again, how do you define, and would you measure, drunkness?

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  15. Michael Mckee (1,091 comments) says:

    Nassaka
    That may be true for you and I’m sorry it is at that level for you. But good on you for being able to set a limit.

    I love a good wine with food and Brandy/port with cheese or dessert and beer is the best drink with curry preferably a couple.
    Going to the pub for a couple of beers with a mate or two is great too though I usually lose at pool!
    My favourite place Cafe Ortega I let their guy pick the wine as he really knows his oats and they are always great.

    But going out (in public) knowing you’re going to get drunk is anti social and should be stomped on.
    I set a limit (without food) of two drinks and maybe up to five in an evening (3-4 hrs) but would have some food as well.
    That is sensible.
    At home or a friends we find we still stick to that generally as we would never let each other drive drunk.

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  16. Tom Jackson (2,553 comments) says:

    “We” do not have a major binge drinking problem. “Some” people occasionally binge drink, and “some” of those people have alcohol problems. The rest of us either don’t cause trouble or eventually get over it.

    I’m all for informing the public of the risks of alcohol, so that at risk people are informed, and for the state to render aid to those who have a drinking problem.

    While we don’t have a drinking problem, we definitely have a wowser problem.

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  17. Pete George (23,591 comments) says:

    It’s quite easy (for a lot of people) to be drunk and not be obnoxious, violent, offensive or an embarrassment.

    I’ve had more than my share of alcohol over the years. Now I drink a little up to several times a week, but rarely feel even half drunk because:
    – I now usually don’t like the feeling of losing control of my faculties.
    – I hate hangovers, including how it can stuff half (or more) of my weekend.

    I’m lucky, I can not drink or stop drinking at will. I know a significant number of others have a real problem with alcohol and can’t easily control it – they obviously have to deal with drinking differently to me.

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  18. backster (2,174 comments) says:

    So Jenny SHIPLEY didn’t get it right when she said if the drinking age was reduced from 21 to 18 all the kids would drink in a leisurely cultured way at pavement restaurants like they did in France.

    No doubt this programme will be effective if it is broadcast three time a day on Maori TV.

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  19. Pete George (23,591 comments) says:

    While we don’t have a drinking problem, we definitely have a wowser problem.

    Non-wowsers know how to take their piss, eh!

    Our society as a whole has an enormous drinking problem. Alcohol is a major factor in crime, violence, family problems and work productivity. I can still remember days thirty years ago when I went to work hungover but was useless – and a potential danger.

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  20. Ross12 (1,432 comments) says:

    The thing about youth drinking I don’t understand is how they have this attitude or goal of going out to get smashed / blind drunk or what ever you like to call it. I enjoy a drink and when I was younger did quite a bit of “partying” but I don’t recall any of my friends deliberately setting out to get drunk as the goal for the night out. Yes we may have ended up drunk but having a good time was the goal.
    To me being drunk is not that great –the enjoyable bit is to time from having the first drink to getting to that state not the end result. It is the enjoyment of the social occasion with friends , family or whoever. This is where the Europeans have it right.
    I heard recently of a major problem with first year University females ( I won’t name the university) in the hostels , in particular. They stop eating on Thursdays so on Friday night they can get a cheap bottle of wine or something similar to get drunk quickly and cheaply before going out on the town. They continue not to eat much on Saturday so they can repeat the exercise for Saturday night. Obviously Sunday ( and probably Mondays are a right off ).

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  21. boredboy (250 comments) says:

    Not sure if the smoking culture change is the same as the drinking culture change.

    Other factors included in smoking include the three-fold increase in price and its being banned indoors.

    Can’t see that happening with alcohol.

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  22. RRM (9,933 comments) says:

    Hello Sunday Morning looks like a good initiative.

    However I’m with Tom Jackson on this.

    Saying there is “an alcohol problem” is a cop-out. What it is, is a crap behaviour among some fkwit drinkers problem. Drinkers need to start owning whatever crap behaviour they get up to while drunk.

    And “society” as a whole needs to drop this pretense that people aren’t in charge of their actions when they’re pissed, and this tendency to forgive said crap behaviour. “Don’t worry about it, he’s just drink.” Making drunkenness a strongly aggravating factor in sentencing for ANY crime would be a start. If you’re a menace to the public when you’re maggotted, then it’s your responsibility to not get that maggotted. And if you fail to do that, it’s your own fault not anybody else’s, and it’s not the alcohol’s fault either.

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  23. redeye (629 comments) says:

    It is a culture change among youth that will see a reduction in harm from alcohol. It is not making it illegal for a 19 year old to buy a bottle of wine.

    That’s the exact argument pro cannabis campaigners have been using. Legitimately.

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  24. Michael Mckee (1,091 comments) says:

    RRM
    I don’t see “making it a strongly factor in sentencing” is going to make a culture change amongst the majority.

    The issue is the behaviour has/is already happening for years and we’ve all talked about this on this block for at least 4 years that I can remember.

    Until the majority who do get drunk see the fkwits getting charged for being drunk and disorderly + other offences and see them having to face a magistrate in the morning and having to go to alcohol counseling and possibly have a suspended sentence, then and only then will the majority start taking notice.
    Not to mention paying the full whack for the ambulance men and ED staff.

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  25. nasska (11,580 comments) says:

    Getting maggotted on Saturday night was a rite of passage for young people forty years ago & given the way the teenage brain works probably the same debate will be going on forty years hence.

    There is no all encompassing answer but if you want to reduce the worst effects of over indulgence then follow the suggestions of some commenters above & make people accountable for their actions. To this end the reintroduction of the old “drunk tanks” at police stations would be a good move. Few who have spent the early hours of Sunday morning in a cell with twenty other drunks shitting their pants & spewing on everything in sight have any great desire to repeat the process next weekend.

    Fear of consequence has made a difference to the problem of drunk driving…..why not extend it to obnoxious drunks?

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  26. Pete George (23,591 comments) says:

    RRM: Saying there is “an alcohol problem” is a cop-out. What it is, is a crap behaviour among some fkwit drinkers problem.

    I think you’re only partly right.

    Some people use getting pissed as an excuse for crap behaviour eg get pissed and go looking for fights.
    Some people lose control when getting pissed and do stupid things they wouldn’t otherwise have done.

    I think there’s an important distinction, for some people booze is a real problem, for some it’s an excuse.

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  27. Pete George (23,591 comments) says:

    Fear of consequence has made a difference to the problem of drunk driving…..why not extend it to obnoxious drunks?

    Possibly, but with some concerns. What would determine sufficient obnoxiousness to bang them in the clanger? Could easily be abused by unamused cops unless there are very clear lines drawn.

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  28. nasska (11,580 comments) says:

    PG

    It would have to be a judgement call by the police but they make plenty of these now. I would suggest the threshold would be presenting a danger to themselves or other members of the public.

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  29. Tom Jackson (2,553 comments) says:

    “I think there’s an important distinction, for some people booze is a real problem, for some it’s an excuse.”

    Try visiting South Korea, where people drink so much as to make us look like Muslims, and where hard liquor is sold out of the fridge at dairies for immediate consumption.

    Yes, there are alcoholics in Korea, and yes there is teenage binge drinking. But there’s not a lot of fighting or vandalism (you’ll see drunk accountants sleeping it off in doorways, but nobody minds). The difference is that Korean people are generally law abiding, whereas New Zealanders, like the other Anglos, tend to be a lawless bunch.

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  30. Tom Jackson (2,553 comments) says:

    “Our society as a whole has an enormous drinking problem. Alcohol is a major factor in crime, violence, family problems and work productivity.

    Nonsense. Have you ever watched Mad Men? People used to drink an inordinate amount of alcohol. Our generation is fairly abstemious in comparison. Moaning about young people and their behaviour is as old as humanity. Young people have always acted out and engaged in risky behaviour. Some of them die. Some of them get hurt. It has always been so, and it will always be so.

    This whole thing is puritans just looking for something to moan about. Puritans never go away, they just find some new cause of “impurity” and start lecturing everyone else about it. Some things are OK to put in your body and others are not, but it is mostly arbitrary and just a way for people to control others lives without looking like they are doing so.

    50 years ago, you could drink a lot and smoke like a chimney, and people wouldn’t care. But if you were a fan of non-standard sexual practices, you were a degenerate and an outcast. Now, you can shag pretty much whoever you like in whatever weird way you like and nobody cares. But you dare eat certain sorts of food or enjoy tobacco, and you’re a degenerate and an outcast. It’s got to the stage where the same people who think that something is wrong with you if you eat a Big Mac would have no problem if you engaged in coprophilia instead. The sheer lunacy of it is evident to anyone who bothers to look.

    The smoking thing has gotten ridiculous. We all know that smoking is bad for you, and that it is bad manners for smokers to smoke around others. Yet there is a great wailing if anyone suggests that smoking should be confined to smoking areas, because they want to stamp out what they consider to be deviant behaviour rather than stop people from harming non consenting parties. If people want to smoke on their own, it is their business. They should be taxed enough to pay for the social costs of smoking, but a ban is illiberal and puritanical.

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  31. slightlyrighty (2,475 comments) says:

    Griff, 75% of A&E admissions on Fri,Sat, Sun might be caused by alcohol, but what you should also realise is that 100% of those admissions would be caused by ALCOHOL ABUSE. Some will call for the banning of alcohol, which would be like banning cars beacuse of the road toll.

    We used to have a terrible road toll, but culture changes have resulted in a drastic lowering of that toll. We need to change the culture of drinking, so that those who enjoy responsibly, are not punished for the actions of those who abuse alcohol.

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  32. JeffW (327 comments) says:

    Anything to spend more government money.

    If the health system weren’t free at point of use, perhaps the emergency department wold not be so full. When government takes responsibility for everything, why are we surprised at the consequences?

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  33. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    Therefore we should deal to the former, namely people getting drunk in public.

    Isn’t there already a charge of “Drunk and disorderly”? Why is it not used? We have parts of Wellington where totally pissed packs of Neanderthals roam and vomit freely thu/fri/sat night, yet I’d be pinged for soberly carrying a bottle of wine.

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  34. tvb (4,430 comments) says:

    Yeah change that culture rah rah rah. Put the damn price up hard and then watch the culture change. Only alcoholics and binge drinkers are very sensitive to the price of alcohol. Wine should be at least $25/bottle. Alcopops should be priced out of existence perhaps with a hefty excise tax on sugar which will have all sorts of other positive effects, like pricing those damn fizzy drinks out of existence.

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  35. Griff (7,808 comments) says:

    I am not a wowser I just added another bottle of sav to the fridge my partner is coming up from auk tonight and on occasion we will Drink more than one bottle a nite between is

    It s those who are in denial that New Zealand indeed the western world does have problems generated by the consumption of alcohol
    As the post by DPF was quoting emergency department consultant Mark Hussey I was merely reinforcing the provenance of his knowledge and standpoint
    As a youth I did not drink I only smoked pot This of course made me the obvious choice as the “sober” driver. haha
    the culture was not to different than that displayed by youth today. many seem to look back to some mythical time when they were young and things were so much better Mostly this is tinted more by the wishes of age than the reality of the times We did not have access to bars but alcohol was easily obtained
    Many a flagon of gimlet or bottle of markspew was consumed illicitly
    Once you looked old enough you were introduced to the wonders that were booze barns here the consumption of jugs and the resultant fights were a life enhancing experience on bar with any cultural parallel available to todays kids
    The reality is alcohol does and large amount of harm to are society that I chose to reinforce one quantitative measure of this harm does not mean that there are fare more harms done as PG has alluded to
    I believe that we should evaluate the harm done by recreational drugs and realign the sanctions oN these drugs along more empirical lines
    As per professor Nutts research in the UK

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  36. hamish99 (3 comments) says:

    I’d be concerned that a black market may develop is there is too much tax. It’s not hard to make cheap liquor, which could potentially be pretty dangerous.

    I also question whether the same people that get pissed and cause trouble are the same ones that would sign up to “Hello Sunday Morning”, and so, while it’s not a bad thing, perhaps it is not really got to prevent a huge amount of harm.

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  37. Michael Mckee (1,091 comments) says:

    If we got drunk, it was on Saturday after rugby or at a party not several times a week and not every Saturday.

    Krazykiwi
    There isn’t, it was taken off the statute a little while ago.

    Hamish
    Black market, Sod that for a load of monkeys, I would rather we pay less.

    Just ping the drunks behaving badly by nicking them for Drunk in Public with an over night stay in the cells and appear before the magistrate the next morning.
    They should always have to do the alcoholic course as a catch all.

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  38. Rufus (667 comments) says:

    Hah – someone wants his liberal cake and eat it too.

    Chickens are coming home to roost.

    NZ not only has an alcohol problem, it has a sex problem, an abortion problem, a welfare addiction problem, a violence problem, a lack-of-respect for others problem… etc.

    What balls, what fortitude, to pick on a nice little PC problem like booze!

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  39. wreck1080 (3,923 comments) says:

    We’re not talking about stopping a 19 year old boy buying a bottle of wine .

    We are talking about stopping a 19 year old boy buying 15 beers and a bottle of Jack Daniels.

    The wine boy (what kind of ‘boy’ would buy wine at 19 anyway? ) is not the issue.

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  40. aucklandnative (4 comments) says:

    A couple of things;

    Ppl are talking about a ‘drinking age’ – we don’t have one. We have a ‘purchase’ age.

    When we talk about young people, we’re talking about biological organisms that literally aren’t finished yet. Their brains don’t fully form until around 20-25… the last bits to connect are the synapses around ‘consequence’.

    This fact is backed up by the reality that (one example among many) the US Army ONLY uses 18-23 yrs olds to test their new tank designs. True story.

    Anyone that has been in a car w an 18yr old boy will testify to the fact that this actually makes a lot of sense… if you wanna test the breaking point of your new toy – you give it to the rowdiest kid in the bunch – the fittest, the strongest and the most physically irresponsible.

    Young people make bad decisions – it’s their prerogative. Adults that would like to wash their hands of any responsibility around this need their heads read.

    PUtting up the ‘purchase’ age alone won’t change a damn thing… however, it is part of a wider strategy that if implemented evenly, could actually make Friday nights in town fun again.

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