App mirrors binge effect
COULD a new application available on smartphones be the key to helping prevent binge drinking?
The application, called Drinking Mirror, shows users how their image will change in years to come if they consume too much alcohol.
Sophia McLucas, of headspace Southern Downs, said unless the culture around binge drinking changes, binge drinking will continue.
"It would seem that drinking is very much an accepted part of the Australian culture," she said.
"It is almost expected that young people will drink to excess as 'it's just something young people do'.
"We need to encourage a culture of responsible drinking."
Ms McLucas said the app was interesting but she did no know if it would deter young people from drinking excessively.
"The app certainly has a place and could be useful, but I think there needs to be more education around drinking, both at home and through school," she said.
Apart from changes in a person's physical appearance, headspace Southern Downs regularly sees the short and long term effects of binge drinking.
"Things like loss of income, nutrition issues, relationships problems and mental health issues such as depression, (as alcohol is a depressant) promiscuous and risky behaviour are seen on a regular basis, which are caused by the effects of binge drinking," Ms McLucas said.
"Long term effects would also include impact on health and general well-being and possibly leading to a dependence on alcohol."
Ms McLucas said headspace Southern Downs always tried to work with the community on the issue of binge drinking.
"We are looking at the ways we can work with the local community and young people to foster alternatives to binge drinking," she said.
"We aim to help young people develop positive and healthy help-seeking behaviours as well as educating them about the effects of drinking.
"We have a drug and alcohol counsellor from Drug Arm who provides assistance one-on-one to young people about their alcohol use and its effects on their health."
Headspace Southern Downs also works with other agencies, such as probation and parole, to help young people recognise any alcohol issues and help their decrease their dependence.
They provide information sessions at school around issues such as safe partying, particularly prior to Year 12s finishing school.
Headspace can also provide fact sheets for young people about the effects of drugs and alcohol.
Daily News intern Chris McMahon said he was shocked to see the results of his image in the Drinking Mirror.
"It did look pretty bad," Mr McMahon said.
"But I guess the Drinking Mirror doesn't take into consideration a well-balanced diet and exercise.
"The image did make me think twice about drinking in moderation."
What to see the results for yourself? You can check out the online version at drinksmarter.org/handy-tools/drinking-mirror-app.