Burden of extreme drinking.
Article Type: Book review
Subject: Books (Book reviews)
Author: Sharma, Manoj
Pub Date: 12/01/2009
Publication: Name: Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education Publisher: American Alcohol & Drug Information Foundation Audience: Academic; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Psychology and mental health; Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 American Alcohol & Drug Information Foundation ISSN: 0090-1482
Issue: Date: Dec, 2009 Source Volume: 53 Source Issue: 3
Topic: NamedWork: Swimming with Crocodiles. The Culture of Extreme Drinking (Nonfiction work)
Persons: Reviewee: Martinic, M; Measham, F
Accession Number: 218817580
Full Text: Martinic, M., & Measham, F. (2008).

Swimming with crocodiles. The culture of extreme drinking.

New York: Routledge.

[Hardcover; ISBN: 978-0-415-95548-5; Price $60.00]

The book introduces a new concept, "extreme drinking." Extreme drinking refers to heavy, excessive, unrestrained and harmful drinking pattern that is affecting many youth around the world and replaces earlier terms such as binge drinking. This book is ninth in series of books published by International Center for Alcohol Policies (ICAP) on the topic of alcohol in society.

The book is organized into eight chapters. The first chapter is by the editors of the book and is about extreme drinking. It discusses the pharmacology of intoxication and social dimensions of drunkenness and how binge drinking is an inadequate definition. It introduces the new concept of extreme drinking and identifies five criteria that need to be satisfied in defining extreme drinking: intoxication, motivation, process, outcomes, and alcohol experience.

The second chapter provides a historical context of intoxication and the changing attitudes to drunkenness and excess in the United Kingdom. It discusses how alcohol is a part of several religions and leisure around the world and how social and cultural changes have pushed extreme drinking behavior to a normative category, especially among young people.

The third chapter looks at extreme drinking from the perspective of youth in France. The chapter has a case study about young people's drinking in France. The term "extreme" is analyzed and interpreted in youth culture. The chapter also describes the concepts of "wild youth," "partying," and "going out."

The fourth chapter explores motivations behind extreme drinking. Young people in most countries identify drinking as the central leisure time activity, and extreme drinking occasions are often planned rather than accidental or unintentional. Drinking is used to facilitate peer relations, cope with problems, explore increased freedoms, and for fun. For young people the positive experiences associated with alcohol are much more important and frequent while negative consequences are delayed and infrequently experienced.

The fifth chapter summarizes focus group results from seven countries: Brazil, China, Italy, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, and Scotland, United Kingdom. The focus groups asked four questions on drinking in general, two questions on extreme drinking, two questions about contexts in which people drink to excess, and five questions on why people drink to excess. The results present similarities and differences amoung various countries on alcohol and extreme drinking.

The sixth chapter identifies different approaches in addressing extreme drinking through involvement of stakeholders from different sectors. Roles of governments (national, state, and local), law and order authorities, beverage alcohol industry (producers, retailers), public health professionals, and civil society (voluntary organizations, community organizations, trade unions, faith groups, and philanthropic foundations) are discussed. A case study on host responsibility from New Zealand is also presented.

The seventh chapter describes the development of a feasible policy regarding extreme drinking by young people. Issues of taxation and pricing, licensing and access at retail level, and legal age limits are discussed. Targeted policy measures for consumer information and education, health care and social services, law enforcement, retail serving and sales practices, and community initiatives are also presented.

The final chapter is about feasible interventions pertaining to extreme drinking by young people. Interventions in educational settings such as alcohol education and skills training, social norms marketing, brief interventions (e.g. Alcohol Skills Training Program--ASTP; Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students--BASICS), and environmental interventions have been discussed. Also interventions in workplace such as employee assistance programs and drug testing, health promotion and wellness programs, peer interventions and team training, workplace brief interventions, event specific campaigns; interventions in community settings such as media campaigns, involvement of drinking establishments, street-based interventions, and multi-component/multi-stakeholder interventions are also discussed.

The book is a must read for those involved in alcohol and drug education. It brings forth the issue of excessive alcohol consumption by youth. It would also be beneficial to policy makers in planning effective policies and interventions. Overall, it is a useful book that belongs in every library with a collection of alcohol and drug education books.

Review by Manoj Sharma, University of Cincinnati
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.