Binge drinkers copy behavior of friends

June 25, 2008 at 2:19 PM

DURHAM , England, June 25 (UPI) -- The rise in European binge drinking in the young is a "fashion phenomenon" where drinkers are copying their associates' behavior, British researchers said.

Researchers at Durham University's Institute of Advanced Study and Volterra Consulting said social networking is a key factor in the spread of the rapid consumption of large amounts of alcohol.

The research team estimates there are least 1 million binge drinkers in the 18- to 24-year-old population participating in 1.5 million binge drinking events each week in Britain. Lead author Paul Ormerod said the team used complex modeling techniques and interviews with 504 18- to 24-year-olds to draw their conclusions.

The researchers defined binge drinking as: people who got drunk on three or more drinks for women or four or more drinks for men at least once a week, or having 10 or more drinks but not necessarily getting drunk at least once a week for both men and women.

Eighty-five percent of the binge drinkers thought all or most of their friends are binge drinkers, compared to 41 percent of non-binge drinkers.

The researchers suggest complex social networking and the drinking behavior exhibited via these networks is the root cause of binge drinking.

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