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France

'Le binge drinking' on the rise in France

© AFP

Text by Sam Ball

Latest update : 2013-07-29

France on Sunday officially replaced the English term “binge drinking” with the French alternative “beuverie express”, a move that may reflect how drinking habits in the country have changed in recent years.

French drinkers no longer have to refer to consuming vast quantities of alcohol in a short space of time as "binge drinking". The country now has its very own expression for the phenomenon: “beuverie express”.

The phrase was officially approved Sunday by France’s General Commission of Terminology and Neology, a government body tasked with promoting the French language and protecting it from corruption by foreign words and phrases.

Beuverie express” translates literally as “fast drinking” and is defined by the Commission as the “massive consumption of alcohol, usually as part of a group, designed to cause intoxication in a minimum amount of time”.

Although the Commission frequently approves French alternatives for English terms - recent examples include the term “mot-dièse” as a replacement for “hashtag”, the need for "beuverie express" could be seen as indicative of changing French drinking habits.

Binge drinking on the rise in France

France has until now considered binge drinking to be something of an Anglo-Saxon problem, taking pride in its own café culture of slow, moderate alcohol consumption.

But recent reports suggest binge drinking is on the rise in France, especially among the young.

In March of this year, the French Society for the Study of Alcohol released figures showing that alcohol abuse is now the cause of 400,000 hospital admissions a year, a figure that has risen by 30 percent in the past three years.

“We see more and more seriously drunk young people in the emergency room, who will stay for 24 hours, sometimes two days, to sober up,” Dr Damien Labarrière, a gastroenterologist in the city of Orléans in central France, told radio station Europe 1.

Three people have drowned in Paris’s canal system since the start of the summer, reportedly as a result of drinking too much in the hot weather.

In a bid to curtail the problem, some French cities have resorted to implementing restrictions on alcohol sales and consumption. Lyon, for example, has banned shops from selling beer, wine and spirits between the hours of 22.00 and 06.00, while La Rochelle, on France’s Atlantic coast, has introduced a ban on drinking in public areas.

Date created : 2013-07-29

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