So drunk I often pass out outside clubs

SINGAPORE - Every weekend, she puts on her best party outfit and leaves the house with her make-up perfectly done.

But when she returns home, Ann's eyeliner is smudged. Her lipstick has all but disappeared and her hair is dishevelled. Her dress is stained with spilled drinks and her vomit.

That's how the marketing executive, 23, returns from a night of revelry, which always involves binge drinking.

Binge drinking refers to excessive consumption of alcohol over a short time.

"I know it's bad but it's the fastest way to get high," says Ann with a sigh.

"How to have fun if you're not high?" She asks that we do not use her full name as she does not want to lose her job.

Ann admits that she gets some cheap alcohol from liquor stores before hitting her usual nightclub along the Singapore River.

She and her friends share the cost of a bottle - sometimes two - of whiskey and down all of that quickly.

"I just don't want to enter a club sober," she says, reflecting a trend among clubbers here who down cheap alcohol before getting into a club.

It doesn't end there, though. Even when drunk, Ann says clubbers will usually order more bottles of spirit inside the nightspot.

"When we open bottles, I don't really keep track of how much I'm drinking. My friends make sure my cup is always full," says Ann nonchalantly.

When asked to give an estimate of exactly how much she drinks, she says: "I really don't count. Maybe about 10 glasses?" Binge drinking is categorised by the Health Ministry as having six or more drinks on a single occasion. All too often, binge drinkers like Ann can be seen passed out and sprawled on the ground at the end of a clubbing night.

Other nightclub patrons are concerned when they see the after effects.

"You have all these young girls, just lying there. Once, I had to tell one young woman's friends to try to cover her up because she was wearing too short a skirt. Another person was vomiting all over her long hair," says a resident of Robertson Quay, which is near the popular Zouk nightclub.

"Then there are young men sprawled all over, too drunk to even get home."

When approached for this story, a Zouk spokesman says that staff are alert for people who have had too much and will offer them water instead.

He adds: "At the club, the binge drinking hasn't become worse, However, there is the problem of many clubbers 'pre-gaming' and drinking copious amounts of alcohol at the riverside behind Zouk. This has been getting worse with time."

This happens at clubs everywhere, despite previous calls from nightclub owners to try to stop the problem by limiting the alcohol available at convenience stores.

If you walk past the drinking outlets dotting the banks of the Singapore River or in the Marina Bay area after clubbing hours on a Friday, you will see party-goers who have passed out.

As Ann shockingly admits, it is her goal to get tanked. She hardly remembers what happens when she's out partying.

"My friends will be the ones who tell me what I was up to the previous night," she says. She laughs as she adds: "Usually, it's very embarrassing like making out with many strangers on the dance floor or stumbling all over the club."

It usually ends in the same way: Her passing out drunk outside the club.

Lawrence, 20, is in national service and requested that we don't use his full name to avoid trouble. He admits that he stays clean all week, then goes overboard on the one weekend night out.

So much so that he blacks out from the amount of alcohol consumed.

"This is just my way of letting off some steam. Everyone else gets wasted, so it's not fun when you're the only one left to take care of the others," says Lawrence, who says he has at least eight drinks each night he parties.

Ann says Sundays are usually spent recovering from the "hangovers from hell".

Lawrence also sleeps in till about 9pm on Sundays to "recover".

Ann's parents have tried to stop her from going out at night because of her drinking habits but she does not heed their advice.

"They can't really stop me from doing what I want to do," she says.

Ann is aware of the effects binge drinking can have on her health, but says: "I'm

young, so I just want to enjoy my life first." She adds: "I'll stop partying so hard eventually. I still have control over what I do.

"Besides, it's not like I'm addicted to alcohol."


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