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Although Jews have long been regarded as "non-drinkers" of alcoholic beverages, except for ritual use, Magen David Adom reports a significant increase of alcoholic binges - especially among young people. And it is not only around Purim, when drinking is a tradition.
Judging by the number of drunks - some of them unconscious - that MDA ambulances pick up, the situation is worrisome, MDA director-general Eli Bin said on Thursday. In 2006, MDA evacuated to hospitals 6,016 people who drank enough alcohol to lose consciousness; in 2007, the figure was 7,020; in 2008, the phenomenon rose dramatically by 48 percent to 10,407, and by 73% since 2006.
Drinking to the extreme is most prevalent among those aged 18 to 24, MDA said. Drunkenness often results in violence and potentially fatal road accidents. Bin said that MDA's figures could be understating the problem, as some drunks were arrested by police for involvement in violent acts or accidents instead of being taken to the emergency room.
Natan Kudinsky, MDA's director of training, said that those who drink too much alcohol first act silly, with confusion, loss of memory and poor coordination. When it is really excessive, the drinker can lose consciousness and even stop breathing and die.
In such a case, remove the drunk from dangerous places such as the road, a vehicle or a balcony. If he is not breathing, start basic resuscitation and call MDA at 101. If he vomits, turn his head to the site so he doesn't choke on it. Don't give him anything to drink, even coffee, because drunk people lose their reflexes and may choke on it, Kudinsky advised.