Understanding Binge Drinking
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 binge drinking at least once a week. Binge drinking has other consequences as well, like being costly, and sometimes even deadly.
What is Binge Drinking?
The National Institute for Alcohol Abuse considers binge drinking when you bring your blood alcohol level up to the legal limit to drive. 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 binge drinking, though.
How Common is Binge Drinking?
Considering 1 in 6 U.S. adults have reported binge drinking at least once a week, it seems to be a very common, and accepted way to drink 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?
As we learn more about the physical health effects of alcohol, we learn that binge drinking isn’t a safe way to drink. More research shows that just one time of binge drinking can have negative effects on your brain and all parts of your body. 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 still learning, but from the data that’s been gathered so far, there are a few common short-term side effects.
Most Commonly Reported Side Effects
Alcohol Poisoning– An overdose occurs when ethanol, the active chemical in alcohol, is no longer able to be safely broken down by the body. 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.
Inflammation of Internal Organs– The lining of the stomach, and the liver are the most common to become inflamed from a session of binge drinking. 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.
Cardiovascular Issues- Heart palpitations, irregular heartbeat, increased risk of heart attack, and high blood pressure risks increase drastically after just a few binge drinking sessions.
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. Drinking no more than 3 (for women) or 4 (for men) drinks in a 2-hour period should keep your BAC under the legal driving limit.
Making a plan, and setting goals for yourself is also an important part of binge drinking prevention. Drinking with people you trust, and can be accountable to is another way to keep your drinking under control if you choose to drink.
Do You Need Treatment for Binge Drinking?
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.