Survey reveals relaxed attitude to alcohol in Bendigo

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MORE than a third of Bendigo area residents believe it is acceptable to get drunk every now and then, a major survey has found.

The 2015 VicHealth Indicators Survey, based on interviews of more than 22,800 Victorians, found 35 per cent of City of Greater Bendigo residents agreed being inebriated to the point of losing balance on occasion was OK.

Of the municipalities in central Victoria, Bendigo had the greatest proportion of residents who held that view, while 28 per cent of Victorians overall agreed with the statement.

Bendigo Health drug and alcohol care co-ordinator Daniel Eltringham was not surprised by the results.

“I suppose in general we’re a bit sort of blasé towards what the recommendations are around low-risk drinking,” Mr Eltringham said.

He said this was possibly the result of a lack of awareness of the guidelines or an overly relaxed attitude towards drinking, with a perception among some that binge drinking was harmless.

National guidelines say healthy men and women should drink no more than two standard drinks in a day to minimise their lifetime risk of harm.

Four drinks is the maximum that should be consumed in one sitting to reduce the risk of injury on that occasion.

Mr Eltringham believes the fact that drinking is a socially normal behaviour and the lack of immediate health impacts in most people were among the factors that give rise to a generally casual attitude towards alcohol in the community.

He said there needed to be more public health campaigns directed at both young people and more seasoned drinkers, educating them on the guidelines and what constituted a standard drink.

A 150 millilitre glass of wine of 12 per cent alcohol volume is 1.4 standard drinks, as is a 375 millilitre bottle of full-strength beer.

The survey also found three in 10 residents were at risk of short-term harm from alcohol, consuming five or more drinks on a single occasion, about on par with the state as a whole.

Ten per cent were identified as being at very high risk of short-term harm, consuming 11 or more drinks on a single occasion in a month.

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