Participating in Crate Day? Save me a spot in hospital

Rows of empties.
KEVIN STENT/SUNDAY STAR TIMES

Rows of empties.

On an ordinary day, one large bottle of beer is enough to get me drunk, but on National Crate Day there are 11 more to suffer through.

Promoted by The Rock FM, Crate Day involves consuming a "swappa crate" – 12 large (745-millilitre) bottles of beer – to celebrate the beginning of summer. 

Although the crates are marketed to be shared, many participants see it as a challenge to drink 9 litres on their own.

Assuming the beer is 4 per cent alcohol by volume, that's close to 30 standard drinks.

It's tradition to start drinking at midday. 

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Katie Kenny could barely stomach four bottles before she's considered a "sloppy drunk", according to an emergency ...
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Katie Kenny could barely stomach four bottles before she's considered a "sloppy drunk", according to an emergency medicine specialist.

Just one bottle is enough to get me drunk, according to emergency medicine specialist and clinical toxicologist at Wellington Hospital Dr Paul Quigley.

Quigley is surprised the radio station's promotion is within the law.

"How this got advertised, I don't quite get it.

"At a time when New Zealand in general has said we need to change [our binge drinking culture], it's very disappointing that we still have these jackass things going on."

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If I continue to drink at a pace of a bottle an hour, I will be vomiting by 4pm. 

Drinking like this "hammers" your stomach, Quigley says.

National Crate Day has caused havoc at Manly Beach, North Auckland for four years running. Residents are fed up with ...
Caralise Trayes

National Crate Day has caused havoc at Manly Beach, North Auckland for four years running. Residents are fed up with their property being damaged and urinated on. Last year a riot squad was called to get the 300-strong crowd under control.

As well as being at an increased risk of stomach ulcers and pancreatitis, binge drinkers are 30 times more likely to become alcoholics. 

After another hour or two, I will be suffering "total mental confusion" and require help walking. Providing my mates aren't as drunk as I am, someone might take me to hospital. 

"It's all to do with the speed at which you're drinking, but consuming a bottle an hour for six hours would have you close to falling over," Quigley says. 

"We get a fair few of those presenting at the Emergency Department (ED)."

Research across Australia and New Zealand shows one in eight people presenting at EDs during peak times are there for alcohol-related reasons. 

In hospital, I will be put in the recovery position and monitored. 

"There's no treatment, as such," he says. "Very rarely we do have to put someone on the life support machine."

The biggest threat to my life at this point is inhaling my own vomit. 

But hey, I'm not even halfway through my crate. She'll be right, right?

Even if you're not a 25-year-old woman with a body mass index of 20, this scenario still applies to you.

"A liver can process one standard unit an hour, regardless of how big or small you are," Quigley says.

"A bigger person can tolerate a little more alcohol in a single session because their body mass is bigger and so their blood volume is bigger.

"The only people who are more tolerant to alcohol are alcoholics. It's as simple as that."

Providing I survive the day, there are few long-term health consequences following a single binge. 

However, for most Crate Day enthusiasts, binge drinking isn't a one-off.

"We unfortunately have clients for whom Crate Day is a regular thing. That's what they consume because it has become, 'It's just a crate of beer, mate'.

"What we do know is people who regularly binge drink will go on to do it again and again. A lot of people say: 'I binge drink but I'm young and stupid and I'll grow out of it.'

"There are actually some very good studies to show you won't."

 - Stuff

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