The dangers of binge drinking can manifest quickly – even for seasoned drinkers who don’t usually have a problem with alcohol consumption. The term binge drinking refers to drinking several alcoholic beverages in a row within two hours.
- Men – 5 drinks or more within 2 hours in the past 2 weeks is a drinking binge
- Women – 4 drinks or more within 2 hours in the past 2 weeks is a drinking binge
Heavy binge drinking is repeating this practice three or more times in a two-week period.
Some forms of alcohol (particularly red wine) has scientifically proven health benefits when consumed in moderation.
The limits are 2 drinks in a day for men and 1 drink a day for women.
Drinking too much (even wine) or drinking hard liquor counters any possible health benefits. That’s when alcohol becomes pro-inflammatory – even toxic – inside your body.
In addition to the usual headache, nausea, depression, bloating, diarrhea, and confusion that many feel after having too much to drink, there are serious, long-term dangers of binge drinking that you need to watch for in yourself and others.
Sorry, It Isn’t Just College Kids
Before you think to yourself that you’re capable of monitoring your alcohol consumption and you’ve never had a problem, let me run some facts by you.
– According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), binge drinking is the most common type of excessive alcohol use.
– 38 million adults (1-in-6) in the United States binge drink at least four times a month. The average drinking binge for these adults is 8 alcoholic beverages.
– Binge drinking raises your blood alcohol level rapidly, which can lead to alcohol overdose. This is called alcohol poisoning. This shuts down parts of your brain that regulate breathing, gag reflex, heart rate, and body temperature. The more you drink, the greater your risk of death.
– Signs of alcohol poisoning that require calling 911 are extreme confusion, inability to wake the person up, choking on his/her own vomit, seizures, irregular breathing, irregular heart rate, drop in body temperature, and skin that is very pale or blue.
– Every year, more than 2,200 people die of alcohol poisoning (6 deaths per day) and 70% of deaths are men aged 26-64 years old.
– Men are twice as likely to binge drink than women.
– Non-Hispanic Caucasians and Alaskan Native Americans have the highest rates of alcohol-related death. Binge drinking is more common in households earning more than $75,000 per year.
– Of all alcohol-related deaths, alcoholism is a factor in 30% of cases.
Experts agree that these numbers prove alcohol abuse statistics are much higher than previously believed. However, they also agree that the data is ultra-conservative and the problem is likely much, much worse.
Age, health, alcohol tolerance, food consumption, and even the type of alcohol being consumed can alter reactions from one individual to another.
People under the legal drinking age have a tendency to drink 5 or more alcoholic beverages. This causes a drastic, sudden increase in blood alcohol content (BAC) that quickly overwhelms the system and makes it harder to break down and flush alcoholic compounds from your bloodstream.
The higher your BAC, the more impaired your brain function becomes. Even if you pass out, your stomach continues to process the alcohol, pushing more and more of it into your blood – making you drunker even when you’ve stopped drinking.
Ignoring the dangers of binge drinking that leads to overdose can lead to permanent brain damage, coma, and even death.
Drinking to the point of drunkenness can end badly.
– In the short term, this includes accidents (involving yourself and others), falls, drowning, burns, high-risk behaviors such as unprotected sex, and intentional harm (shootings, domestic violence, and assault).
– In the long term, it could mean addiction, sexually transmitted disease, unplanned pregnancy, liver disease, heart disease, increased risk of stroke, diabetes, and damage to your brain.
– Research presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference followed more than 5,000 participants for 8 years and evaluated their drinking habits. Those in the study who engaged in binge drinking at least once a month had a 62% higher risk of cognitive decline.
A major binge drinking danger is an increased risk of addiction to alcohol. If you’re not sure if you could be addicted to alcohol, speak to a professional.
- Does alcohol consumption interfere with work, school, or personal commitments?
- Do you drink in situations that could quickly become dangerous (such as driving)?
- Do you feel a strong need or craving to drink?
- Do you have difficulty stopping consumption of alcohol once you start?
- Do you experience blackouts?
- Do you hide how much you drink from friends or family?
The trouble with alcohol isn’t going away anytime soon. The dangers of binge drinking probably won’t stop a lot of people from doing it to celebrate with friends, relax after a rough week, or other “reasons” people have for consuming a lot of alcohol in a short period of time.
6 Tips to Remember Before Binge Drinking
1. Eat a full meal before you plan to drink.
2. If you know you’ll likely drink to excess, plan safe ways to get home. Don’t drive!
3. Alternate an alcoholic drink with a glass or bottle of water.
4. Don’t take prescription drugs with alcohol.
5. Use the buddy system and keep an eye out for each other.
6. If you’re too drunk to drive, you’re too drunk to initiate or consent to sexual contact.
One night of uninhibited partying can change the course of your life. One bad decision can lead to your death or the death of someone else. Binge drinking dangers are real and they’re serious.
Drink responsibly… Enjoy your life but make sure you survive it!