Binge drinking is becoming a rising trend among young females in Botswana. Government’s attempt to control drinking does not appear to be bearing much fruit.
Binge drinking refers to consumption of excessive amount of alcohol in a short period of time. It can be purposeful or may happen without notice, especially when a particular group ÔÇô friends or just drinking colleagues, influences one.
Many people would binge drink because they enjoy it, others would do it to temporarily forget their problems, especially when they have financial or marital problems, according to the experts.
In an interview with the Sunday Standard, Dr Tuelo Ntwaagae said that excessive alcohol intake usually causes ulcers and loss of blood.
“If this happens to a woman with prolonged menses or heavy flows, they will usually be anaemic, commonly called ‘low blood” by many people, and this is quite common nowadays.”
Dr Ntwaagae also warned that binge drinking may lead to alcohol poisoning, “commonly referred to as “blackouts”.
One loses touch with the real world, may lose consciousness or can even lose life. Loss of consciousness increases the risk of death through loss of protective reflexes and choking.
Sudden death may also result.
Rapists can also take advantage of someone who has ‘blacked ÔÇô out’, and in many instances when it happens many other hard drugs, like cocaine and mandrax, are blamed.
Ntwaagae said that it is important to note that too much alcohol intake in a short period of time can cause signs similar to such drugs.
He said pregnant mothers, especially, should stay away from alcohol and warned that binge drinking may negatively affect the unborn baby to cause what is called Alcohol Foetal disorder ÔÇô a condition that is characterised by deformities in the baby, mental disability and learning problems, especially at school.
This is a significant risk because most women usually realise that they are pregnant around the third month. It is important to note that many baby parts develop within the first three months, so alcohol can affect the unborn baby badly.
I had a chat with one bartender at a local up-market pub and though she did not wish to reveal her identity, she was quick to point out that every day, she sees Yuppies come into the drinking hole and “drink like fish”.
“We get all kinds of people coming in here but we get lots of women patrons as well. Many of them come here in girls-only groups and start ordering anything and everything. There are no more such things as ‘men only’ drinks; I think they have taken this gender equality thing too far. These days, women come in here and drink alcohol like it was God sent. Some drink to a point where they start to misbehave and there have been numerous instances where we have to ask them to leave.”
Gone are the days when it was taboo to see a woman enter a drinking spot or consume alcohol in public. It has become a common site to see women at bars and drinking spots or driving around the city on weekends, alcoholic beverages in their hands and loud music blaring from their car music systems.
These days it is not unusual to find women bragging about their alcohol tolerance and how they can drink their boyfriends to sleep. Every day we see Facebook status updates of women complaining of hangovers and asking friends for advice on how to cure them.
I recently went to see Nigerian dancehall artist, Mr Flavour, who brought the house down at GICC a few weeks ago. With mostly women folk in attendance, one couldn’t help but notice the increasing number of females who have joined their male counterparts and are indulging in alcohol like there was no tomorrow.
It was at the same event where an overly intoxicated local celebrity made a total embarrassment of herself when she decided to climb on stage and take the microphone from Flavour whilst he was performing. The celeb did not retreat despite being booed by the crowd and it took at least three bouncers to remove her from the stage.
And many of these women don’t just drink the traditional cider, which has always been associated with women in this country so much so that men who were seen drinking ciders were labelled ‘sissies’.
These mamas will knock down anything, from Carling Black lagers to Johnny Black and even Blue label Whiskeys.
Lerato Mangole, a twenty-four-year-old university graduate, says she started drinking alcohol occasionally when she was nineteen years old. Then, she used to go out once a week, usually on Saturdays and drink at most two glasses of red wine.
Now Lerato says she can down up to twelve beers on an outing, depending on the time she starts drinking.
“I go out almost every weekend unless when I am out of town but, otherwise my friends and I link up every Friday night and since there is not much of a night life in Gabs we go to a pub, order our beers and get drunk,” says Lerato.
She reveals that while she prefers a cold Savannah, many of her female drink mates drink mostly lagers, including St Louis, Amstel Castle light and Heineken.
“But on a rainy day, like on month ends, my girls and I get us one or two bottles of whiskey which is finished in a day.”
Bonnie Mathews of Gabane echoes Lerato’s words. She says she drinks Sarita, which she describes as a fruity flavoured cider, but most of her friends opt for more potent liquor, like Klippies and Cola brandy, St Louis and other lagers. She reckons the reason why women have not been drinking lagers could be because of the stereotypes.
She says she limits her drinking to maximum of four beers per outing because she knows when to say “ke sharp” but some of her girlfriends can go on until morning.
“There is a nightclub here in Gabane and on weekends no matter what time you go there, you are bound to find overly intoxicated women,” says Bonnie.
She wonders if these women ever stop to think about the dangers they are putting themselves into with such behaviour, warning that there are some sick men in our society who might want to take advantage of their situation.