Irish Times – Ex-coroner warns of dangers of binge drinking

A former Dublin coroner has expressed concern about binge drinking among young people and said it was surprising greater numbers do not die from the effects of alcohol, considering what they drink.

Dr Kieran Geraghty, who described binge drinking as a “very dangerous” way of drinking, said young people are “oblivious to the real dangers” of alcohol.

“Alcohol is probably the biggest killer,” he said.

“One of the things that shocks me nowadays as a doctor is I have young people coming in to me and they seem to want to binge drink,” said Dr Geraghty, who has just retired as the Dublin county coroner after 12 years.

“I can remember going . . . I was about 19, went to a dance and drank a whiskey for the first time and I got as sick as a dog. I have ¬†never liked whiskey to this day. I learned my lesson. But they go out and get sick every weekend. They don’t just go out to have a pleasant few drinks,” he said.

“They are drinking shots and they are competing to see how much they can drink. It’s so dangerous . . . It’s amazing more of them don’t die from it.

“As a doctor, I explain to them if you drink a lot of alcohol, it’s like an anaesthetic and if you’re lying back and vomit, you are going to inhale your vomit and you are not going to wake up . . . or else if you drink enough alcohol you just won’t wake up from it. But they are oblivious to the real dangers of it,” he said.

“And women . . . are much more vulnerable because they are not able to metabolise alcohol like men are and they are drinking at least as much.”

With “alcohol, it’s not just that a lot of people die from it. When you read the statements about how they are found and the background, it’s so horrific. They live in terrible circumstances. All they do is drink. There are so many other people affected by one person’s drinking.

“People should do things in moderation,” he said.

Meanwhile, there has been a reduction in deaths from cocaine since the death of model Katie French, he said.

“What the experts say is if you warn people about things like that, it makes no difference, but actually to my mind there has been a fall-off in deaths from cocaine since then,” said Dr Geraghty who has issued many public warnings about the dangers of cocaine.

“I’d say Katie French particularly highlighted the dangers of it maybe. I think it’s probably worth warning people about something like that,” he said.

Source: The Irish Times – 26/09/11
Journalist: Georgina O’Halloran