The international development of the ‘Social Norms’ approach to drug education and prevention

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McAlaney, John ; Hughes, C. ; Bewick, B. (2011)

Binge drinking has sparked considerable interest and concern. However despite this interest little is known about the lay understanding of binge drinking and whether there are differences in understanding by gender, age and level of deprivation. Aims: This study investigated the beliefs and attitudes of a sample in the Inverclyde area to binge drinking. Methods: Using both cluster and quota sampling, 586 subjects completed a structured interview, using open questions about their beliefs on binge drinking and was it a problem generally and locally. Findings: Definitions of binge drinking tended to concentrate on intoxication and some described a dependent drinking pattern. Causes and solutions offered were varied but pointed up levels of deprivation in respect of jobs and entertainment. More subjects regarded binge drinking as a problem in society than locally, which is consistent with research suggesting that misperceptions of others’ drinking increases with social distance. Differences in beliefs were found by age and level of deprivation but not gender. It was marked that no subject offered the ‘official’ definition of bingeing or even an approximation of it. Conclusions: Further research is required if future mass media campaigns and interventions are to be relevant to the population.
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