It’s one thing to drink alcohol casually with a couple of friends. It’s another to drink until you black out. Binge drinking occurs when an excessive amount of alcohol is consumed in a short time span. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol could potentially lead to long-term health complications and alcohol poisoning.
In men, binge drinking occurs when five or more drinks are consumed in two hours or less. In women, binge drinking occurs when four or more drinks are consumed within two hours. After a binge drinking session, your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is typically 0.08 or greater.
It’s easy to confuse binge drinking with alcoholism AKA Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), which occurs when an individual loses their ability to control their drinking habits. Though different, binge drinking is just one step away from AUD. It doesn’t take much for a binge drinker to develop a long-term drinking problem which could lead to health complications amongst other issues.
Those who struggle with drinking should seek professional help immediately. There are many organizations such as Al-anon and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) that can help individuals who struggle with alcohol abuse.
An interesting statistic illustrates the true dangers of binge drinking. At least 80% of binge drinkers do not have a dependency on alcohol. Yet, more people die from binge drinking than they do from long-term alcohol abuse. For example, binge drinking often leads to accidents (such as car accidents) and alcohol poisoning. Though alcohol dependency can also kill an individual, the effects often appear in the long-term. Of course, if you’re not careful your binge drinking can transmogrify into alcoholism.
According to statistics, binge drinking occurs most often in individuals who are 26 and older. The rest of the population only make up 30% of binge drinking cases. Within this group (26 years and older), those who take medication and other types of drugs often reach binge drinking levels quicker.
Reasons that people binge drink
Even with widespread campaigns to warn people against the dangers of excessive alcohol abuse, more people than ever are drinking excessively. The main reason being that alcohol is still viewed as a way to loosen up and have fun. College culture certainly doesn’t help the war on alcohol abuse, where young adults are encouraged to drink at excessive levels just to have fun.
As previously stated, binge drinking is not alcoholism, though it still holds many dangers. Your mental state can be affected adversely, putting you at risk both physically (in terms of being accident prone) and health wise. Never forget that you aren’t the only whose life is affected by excessive drinking. Your friends and family are also affected by the choices that you make.
Here are the main reasons that people enjoy binge drinking:
You’ll find that most people who drink for rebellious reasons tend to be on the younger side. They’re making a statement to society that they are their own person and they can do whatever they want. They can break the rules and continue living without consequences. They may also drink to give their confidence levels a boost.
Drowning away life’s troubles
Life can be tough. Many people binge drink to forget about the issues that await them in the real world. After a drink or two, they start to feel good. When they’re sober again, they begin to sink back into depression. To overcome falling back into feelings of hopelessness and depression, people continue drinking to drown away their sorrows.
Often you’ll find drinking games and challenges are set up to test the tolerance of an individual as they compete against someone else. Many games involve drinking until an individual blacks out. This may sound fun, but consuming such dangerously large quantities of alcohol could lead to an adverse outcome for those involved.
Drinking for fun
Drinking is synonymous with a good time. Parties, get-togethers and nights out on the town are often associated with alcohol use. Drinking allows people to cut loose and have fun. However, social drinking could easily turn into alcoholism if the habit gets out of control.
Side effects of binge drinking
There are numerous side effects associated with binge drinking. Some are serious, others not so much. The most common side effects often affect health and behavior. Side effects may only last an hour or so while others can potentially last a lifetime.
Temporary side effects:
- Memory loss
- Coordination problem
- Poor decision making
You likely don’t need to be told that driving while intoxicated is never a good idea. Alcohol can significantly impair your reflexes which of course can lead to automobile accidents. Alcohol can also greatly reduce your judgment leaving you vulnerable to sexual assault or something equally as horrible.
Short-term side effects are just the start of your troubles. Continuous drinking will slowly eat away at your body, eventually causing long-term damage.
- Brain damage
- Liver disease
- Heart problems
There are a variety of factors that can cause side effects to flare up. These include gender, alcohol amount, weight, tolerance, and medication.
Sadly, adolescent binge drinking is a reality. Not only does drinking under the age of 18 increase a minor’s chance of developing a dependency on alcohol but because their minds are still developing, alcohol abuse can impact an adolescent far worse than it would an adult. There have been increasing numbers of minors who have been negatively affected by alcohol. Hospitalization and suicide rates have risen involving teens and young adults due to alcohol use.
Adolescents who engage in binge drinking are more at risk at developing long-term problems because their minds are still in the development phase. Side effects in adolescents include long-term health conditions and behavioral issues, amongst many others.
The best way to stop underage binge drinking is prevention. The most effective prevention starts at home and school. Explaining to teens the negative side effects of binge drinking can help them realize how negative alcohol abuse can be. Often, teens misbehave and engage in negative behaviors, such as drinking, because they seek attention. Simply opening up a dialogue is the first step to preventing alcohol use.
The first step to fixing a problem is recognizing that you have a problem in the first place. Once you realize that you have a problem with binge drinking, you can slowly move towards recovery.
Professional treatment is still the best way to recover from binge drinking and alcohol abuse. Not only will you be given medication that can help reduce withdrawal symptoms, but you will also be surrounded by medical professionals and counselors who can help you every step of the way.
There are many treatment centers available for those who struggle with binge drinking. With plenty of tools and resources to aid you on your journey, you can slowly take back control of your life.