Binge drinking is the most common form of excessive alcohol use in the United States. In fact, one in six U.S. adults admits to excessive drinking at least once a week. Chronic drinking has other consequences as well, like being costly, and sometimes even deadly.
What is Binge Drinking?
The National Institute for Alcohol Abuse defines binge drinking as reaching the legal limit for driving with your blood alcohol level. That typically means four drinks for women or five drinks for men in less than 2 hours.
How Many Ounces Are in a “Drink”?
- Liquor-1.5 ounces
- Wine-5 ounces
- Beer-12 ounces
What Does it Mean if You Are Binge Drinking?
Binge drinking can be hard to distinguish from social drinking. There are a few key differences that would lean more towards chronic drinking, though.
- Social Drinking Drinking less than 4 (for women) and 5 (for men) drinks in a 2-hour period
- Drinks mostly in social settings
- Blood alcohol levels stay under the legal limit to drive
- Binge DrinkingDrinks more than 4 (for women) and 5 (for men) drinks in a 2-hour period
- Drinking to excess occasionally or regularly
- Blood alcohol levels rise above the legal limit to drive
How Common is Binge Drinking?
About 1 in 6 American adults binge drink weekly, making it a popular and widely accepted way to consume alcohol. Also, a 2019 study shows that about 66 million U.S. residents ages 12 and over have reported binge drinking in the last 2 months. Because alcohol is readily available at grocery stores, restaurants, and even gas stations, binge drinking is on the rise.
What are the Consequences and Health Effects of Binge Drinking?
Binge drinking is not safe for our physical health, as we discover more about the effects of alcohol. Drinking heavily once can harm your brain and body, according to recent studies. Binge drinking has short and long-term effects on both your health and your life.
Short Term Effects
Short-term side effects from binge drinking can range from person to person. We are learning, but from the data collected, there are a few common short-term side effects.
Most Commonly Reported Side Effects
Alcohol Poisoning happens when the body can’t safely break down ethanol, the active chemical in alcohol. According to the CDC, there are approximately 6 alcohol poisoning deaths in the U.S. every day.
Poor Coordination, Executive Functioning, and Judgment– Problem-solving, and decision-making skills become impaired.
An example of lower inhibitions is choosing to drive when your BAC is over the legal limit. This is likely to end in an accident. According to the United States Department of Transportation, 11,654 people died in preventable alcohol-induced driving traffic accidents in 2020.
Binge drinking can cause inflammation in the stomach and liver, which are the most commonly affected internal organs. This causes nausea and abdominal or lower chest pains. Vomiting forcefully from nausea could cause lesions in the esophagus, causing a life-threatening bleed.
Heart Palpitations- This also includes an irregular heartbeat.
Long Term Effects
People who binge drink often suffer some of the same health consequences as long-term alcohol abuse. As with short-term effects, the long-term effects range from person to person as well.
Common Long-Term Effects
Increased Cancer Risks- Any amount of alcohol consumption increases cancer risks, and binge drinking is no exception.
Alcoholic Liver Disease– This includes inflammation and cirrhosis. It develops over time, so several binge drinking sessions are thought to increase this risk.
Drinking heavily a few times can lead to heart problems. These problems include palpitations, irregular heartbeat, a higher risk of heart attack, and increased blood pressure.
Mental Health Issues- The longer a person participates in binge drinking sessions, the larger their risk for mental health issues is. Depression is the most common mental illness caused by alcohol consumption.
Binge Drinking Prevention
Binge drinking is a completely preventable situation. There are many ways you can lower your risks. You could try drinking slower, and alternating between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
Counting drinks is important, also. To stay within the legal driving limit, women should not consume more than 3 drinks in 2 hours. Men, on the other hand, should limit their alcohol intake to no more than 4 drinks within the same time frame.
Making a plan, and setting goals for yourself is also an important part of preventing excessive drinking. Drinking with trusted people helps control your drinking if you decide to drink.
Do You Need Treatment?
Binge drinking leads to an alcohol use disorder in 10% of people in the U.S. Sometimes binge drinking in itself is a problem for someone, too. Because binge drinking is grouped in with having an AUD, there are plenty of treatment options if you feel you are losing control of your drinking.
Calling Agape Treatment Center in Fort Lauderdale, FL is a great option to help you decide if you would benefit from treatment. They offer many services including substance abuse, dual diagnosis, counseling, IOP, and different PHP treatment programs. We take many different insurances and have a variety of ways to ensure you can afford treatment. Our admissions coordinators are ready to help you create a personalized treatment plan.