What is Binge Drinking
Binge drinking is different from the characteristics of alcohol use disorder, as people who binge drink may not drink alcohol every day, or even every week as someone battling alcoholism will do. Binge drinking most commonly affects people between the ages of 18 to 35, but can be seen in younger and older demographics.
For it to be classified as binge drinking, it is not about how often the individual drinks, it is about heavy drinking in a short period of time. As per CDC studies, on average, one in six people who binge drink will only drink around four times a month.
If someone is struggling with alcohol consumption, it is important to know whether drinking alcohol is turning into an addiction. It is also vital that the dangers and effects of binge drinking are understood.
Signs of binge drinking:
- Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels rise to the legal limit of .08 in a short space of time.
- For men: Five drinks are consumed in under two hours.
- For women: Four drinks are consumed in under two hours.
Negative Health Effects of Binge Drinking
Alcohol consumption will always have a negative effect on health, but consuming large quantities of alcohol in a short space of time puts a far higher toll on one’s health.
Adverse affects from binge drinking are:
- Severely impaired judgment, putting the drinker at risk of engaging in risky behavior and DUIs.
- Judgment, coordination, and motor skills are impaired, leading to falls and injuries.
- Increased higher risk of alcohol poisoning, which kills six people a day in the United States.
- Much higher risk of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, miscarriage, and stillbirths.
- Higher risk for high blood pressure, liver disease, and heart disease.
- Higher risk for developing cancers of the mouth, throat, liver, esophagus, breast, and colon.
- Easily slips in alcoholism and alcohol use disorders.
Facts About Binge Drinking
Binge drinking may erroneously be seen as less dangerous than full-blown alcoholism. This is a common and dangerous misconception based on the fallacy of how often one’s drinking sessions are. It is important to understand binge drinking can be just as dangerous and difficult to control.
Anyone can binge drink
Although binge drinking is more commonly seen in the 18-35 age group, anyone can do it. It may be more frequently seen in young people and college students, but it can and does affect anyone.
Although in the past, American adults who binge drink were usually male, there has been a recent increase in the number of women who admit to binge drinking.
Binge drinking affects the economy
Aside from the burden on the healthcare system due to alcohol poisoning, alcohol-related injuries, accidents, and illnesses, binge drinking also impacts the criminal justice system and employers.
A study published by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 2010 showed that binge drinking cost the United States a staggering $249 billion a year. This is equal to about $2 for every drink consumed in the United States per year.
Binge drinking is different to alcohol use disorder
Many people binge drink from time to time but do not suffer from alcohol use disorder. However, someone struggling with alcohol use will eventually exhibit behavioral patterns that will indicate an addiction.
A person who binge drinks that has alcohol use disorder will not have control over how much they drink. Once they start drinking, they will be unable to stop. This often leads to alcohol poisoning.
Other people who are not alcoholics may go for long periods of time without drinking but may binge drink occasionally. Although these people do not have an alcohol addiction yet, they are at an increased risk of developing one.
Binge Drinking Prevention
The ideal way to decrease the risk of becoming addicted to alcohol is to abstain from drinking altogether. However, if one must drink, their goal should be moderation.
If a person is going to drink alcohol, they should limit intake to one drink per day for women, and two a day for men. Individuals with a history of binge drinking should avoid alcohol consumption entirely.
Get Treatment for Alcohol Abuse
If you are worried that you or a loved one is binge drinking, or already seems addicted to alcohol, learn more about the warning signs of alcohol addiction.
It is never too late to get help for alcoholism. Get in touch with us to find out how we can help you. Our treatment navigators are able to guide you on the best course of recovery and to receive treatment for all stages of alcohol use disorder.