Binge Drinking… In Indonesia?

Binge drinking is a big problem in the UK. BBC reported that

Britain’s binge drinking culture is costing the country £20 billion a year, according to a government report. The study by the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit shows 17 million working days are lost to hangovers and drink-related illness each year.
The annual cost to employers is estimated to be £6.4 billion while the cost to the NHS is in the region of £1.7bn. Billions more are spent clearing up alcohol-related crime and social problems.
In addition, alcohol-related problems are responsible for 22,000 premature deaths each year.

What about in Indonesia?

I have tried to find relevant articles regarding this issue but couldn’t find any. From the surface binge drinking is not a problem in Indonesia. Maybe because, first, most of Indonesians are Moslem and alcohol is not allowed (haram), and its distribution, even its content in food, is tightly (*cough) monitored by the government. Secondly although there are local, cheap brands, most of the alcohol drinks are expensive, and only are available in restaurants or cellars with licenses, which are not many. Most supermarkets only sell beer, if that. If you go outside big cities in Indonesia, alcohol is almost nonexistent. With the exception of several ethnic groups, most Indonesians do not have drinking culture, (although we have traditional alcoholic drink called tuak).

But look at those places famous for youngsters in Jakarta and you’d find out that they gulp Johnnie Walker faster than water. The worrying facts are most of them are barely out of high school (probably they still are, who knows, no one checks their IDs), and in the stage of proving their existence to their groups means everything, so they drink like there is no tomorrow. Hold, on, I must say again, it’s not exclusively for youngsters. People my age do that too! Many times I went to parties, celebrations, grand openings, where people find an excuse to drink more and faster. Directly from the bottles.

Right, ok. It’s their rights to do that. But what annoys me the most, is that not only they’re happy to be drunk, they like to force us to be drunk too! Many occasions where my head was almost cracked opened, my neck was pinned against the wall and I was forced to practically inhale whisky, vodka, or double shot tequila. And it feels like back in high school again, proving that we are the strongest, drinking the most without being drunk. And laugh at who do get drunk. Associating fun with drunk. Oh dear.

The most dangerous thing about binge drinking is because no one ever tells us about it. Since alcohol in Indonesia is nonexistent, we don’t get enough information about the danger of drinking insensibly. Just like sex, youngster, or everyone, has to rely on pieces of information provided in the media, if any. Most of the time, we learn by doing. Worse, we are never told that we could put other people’s lives in danger too. Even though I’m sure there is a law written about drink and driving, I never hear any story about police stopping drivers who are found driving under influences. Where in other countries, like UK for example, the law is strictly applied and we could loose our driving license, go to jail and get fined, if we get caught DUI.

So how much is too much?

The NHS recommends that you should not regularly drink more than:

  • 3-4 units of alcohol a day for men,
  • 2-3 units of alcohol per day for women.
Beer, ale and stout Bottle (330ml) Can (440ml) Pint
Ordinary strength (3.5 – 4%) (John Smith’s, Boddington’s, Guinness) 1.3 units 1.8 units 2.3 units
Premium strength (5%) 1.6 units 2.2 units 2.8 units
Lager or beer (pint) 2 units+ 2.6 units+ 3.4 units+
Cider Bottle (330ml) Can (440ml) Pint Litre
Ordinary strength (6%)(Dry Blackthorn, Strongbow) 2 units 2.6 units 3.4 units 6 units
Strong (9%+) 3 units+ 4 units+ 5 units+ 9 units+
Lager Bottle (330ml) Can (440ml) Pint
Ordinary strength (3.5 ‘ 4%) (Carling Black Label, Fosters) 1.3 units 1.8 units 2.3 units
Premium strength (5%) (Stella Artois, Carlsberg Export, Grolsch, Kronenbourg 1664) 2 units 2.2 units 3 units
Super strength (9%+) (Tennent’s Super, Special Brew) 3 units+ 4 units+ 5 units+
Alcopops 1 bottle (275ml)
Ordinary strength (5%) (Smirnoff Ice, Bacardi Breezer, WKD, Reef) 1.4 units
Shots Small measure (25ml) Large measure (35ml)
Tequila, Sambuca 1 unit 1.3 units
Spirits Small measure (25ml) Large measure (35ml) Small double measure (50ml) Large double measure (70ml)
Gin, rum, vodka & whisky 1 unit 1.4 units 2 units 2.8 units
Wine (red or white) Standard glass (175ml) Large glass (250ml) Bottle (750ml)
11% 1.9 units 2.8 units 8.3 units
12% 2.1 units 3 units 9 units
13% 2.3 units 3.3 units 9.8 units
14% 2.5 units 3.5 units 10.5 units
Fortified wine Standard measure (50ml )
Sherry & port 1 unit

The best way to keep track of your units is to use the information on this page. Then you can easily keep count and make informed choices when you’re out drinking.

Website like Drinkaware gives hints and tips to enjoy a big night out. So enjoy your night out. Just make sure you are aware of how much you drink.




  1. Good article! With a lot of interesting, useful information.

    I may add:

    – over here ( the Netherlands) you are not allowed to drive if the permillage of alcohol in your blood is over 0,5. That’s the case after drinking the equivalent ( by ruleof the thumb) of two shots ( two units);
    – it’s popular knowledge (confirmed by scientists by the way) that one shot a day is okay. That means: it is even good for your health
    – and yes, unfortunately, alcohol is a growing problem among youngsters. The so called “coma-drinking” (drinking so much so fast that the youngsters loose consciousness all together and have to be hospitalized) is that serious that it has induced the lawmakers to start to introduce rules to curb the use of alcohol by underage persons.

    So I guess with alcohol it is like most things in life: stick to a moderate lifestyle.

  2. Finally Woken says:

    Even I don’t realize that I should stop after 2 glasses of wine. So the unit chart helps me a too.

  3. It probably has become “socially acceptable” by most. It makes me think, how will the liver cope in the future with binge drinking? Especially when you get older?? It surely becomes much harder on the body and recovery takes longer.

  4. Miss Bitchy says:

    Miss Bitchy bets to eat her own hat, that those Indonesian people, who drink like crazy that leads to binge drinking, live a double life. After partying like maniac at clubs, they go home, sneak into their rooms, hope that they parents don’t catch them. In other word, it’s all hypocrite. What do they want to prove if they still live under their parents’ roof? What a bunch of losers.

  5. Andie Summerkiss says:

    That is such an informative post!

    I think the main reason for the lack of information on binge eating at young yuppy generation in Indonesia is because they don’t really drink because they are addicted to it. They do it because they want to look cool amongst their peers. And eventually they overdo it.

    It is unspeakable how much they spend on weekend out on fancy smanchy drinks huh.

  6. Binge drinking in Indonesia. Hm. Well there’s this thing in Jakarta called: pletokan, lol. Have you try it? If I’m not mistaken, pletokan is what we commonly know as: a pitcher of Shangria. HOWEVER. It isn’t in a pitcher, and lord knows what the ingredients are.

    Dayum, that pletokan! It is evil.

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