Binge drinking is a serious public health problem that occurs when someone indulges in excessive alcohol use in one period. This dangerous behavior can cause people to black out or even experience alcohol poisoning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 6 US adults binge drink about 4 times a month. This includes drinking up to 7 drinks in one setting.1 While this is more common among young adults, this reckless behavior can cause several negative outcomes for anyone who engages. Our Christian drug rehab explains the numerous alcohol binge drinking effects and how to stop binge drinking and avoid more serious repercussions like an addiction.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Trusted Source, binge drinking is when a person drinks enough alcohol in two hours to raise blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08% or higher. Binge drinking also varies among females and males, occurring when females drink 4 or more drinks or when males drink 5 or more drinks in two hours.1
However, other factors like height and weight can also have an impact on how alcohol affects you. For instance, a woman over 5 feet tall may be able to safely drink more alcohol than a woman who’s barely 5 feet tall. Similarly, a shorter man with a lower body weight may become intoxicated more quickly than a taller man with a higher body weight.
What’s more, some people simply don’t digest alcohol properly, and this lower tolerance for alcohol doesn’t always relate to their body size or gender. Tolerance can also affect how quickly a person becomes intoxicated.
Additionally, it’s important to note that binge drinking is not alcoholism. If you drink on occasion, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re addicted to alcohol. Binge drinking is considered to be a behavior and not a mental health disorder like alcoholism. However, if you binge drink regularly, you are placing yourself at risk of developing alcohol addiction.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), an alcohol use disorder (alcohol addiction or AUD) is a mental health disorder characterized by the inability to control one’s alcohol consumption. People with AUDs drink continually despite any physical, emotional, and social consequences they experience. They may even want to drink less or stop entirely but are unable to quit on their own.
When diagnosing this condition, experts will consider whether the individual meets at least two of the following criteria:
Spending a lot of time drinking or recovering from drinking
Often drinking more than they meant to
Having a hard time thinking of anything else but drinking
Drinking enough that their safety was at risk more than once, such as through drunk driving
They’ve tried to cut back on their drinking multiple times but just couldn’t
Drinking interferes with their daily activities, including work or family time
They keep drinking even though it’s caused problems with friends and family
They’ve sacrificed hobbies or meaningful projects because they competed with their drinking
Even when drinking makes them feel depressed or anxious, they still can’t seem to stop
They need to drink more than they used to feel the same “buzz” (also known as alcohol tolerance)
They get withdrawal symptoms, such as shakiness or nausea, when the alcohol wears off (also referred to as alcohol dependence)
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are some of the toughest to cope with, so much so that many addicts who try to recover relapse early on because of them. If you’re interested in starting your recovery or know someone who is, our Christian drug rehabilitation center offers a medical alcohol detox that can help.
For the most part, binge drinking is supported by how socially accepted alcohol is. Whenever a few people gather, it seems like alcohol is always involved. Whether it’s a beach day with friends or a small get-together at home, alcohol always seems to be a must.
Many people also drink to stress and relax after a long day or to make socializing easier and more fun. But what happens when things go too far? While occasional drinking is understandable, why do people binge drink?
For starters, it’s more difficult to gauge how much alcohol you’ve had when you’re tipsy or intoxicated, which can lead to more drinking. Binge drinking is also common among people who have a high tolerance for alcohol, as they may not feel the effects of alcohol until they’re several drinks in. In an attempt to reach the point of relaxation, tipsiness, or intoxication, people with a high tolerance may consume multiple drinks back to back.
Binge drinking may also be the result of a stressful day at work or a bad week. The person might want to be intoxicated to the point where they’d down several drinks all at once. Ultimately, the higher the person’s tolerance, the more alcohol they’ll need to get drunk. Adverse alcohol binge drinking effects could occur as a result.
There are so many health risks that are associated with binge drinking, which can lead to unfortunate consequences. For example, binge drinking can lead to accidental injuries such as vehicle crashes from driving under the influence, falls, drowning, or even burns. Your coordination is poor, and you lack judgment. Alcohol poisoning is another major health risk, and, in some cases, even death can be the outcome.
Some common short-term effects of binge drinking include:
Unintentional injuries such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, and burns
Sexually transmitted diseases from unprotected sex
Unintended and poor pregnancy outcomes, such as miscarriage and stillbirth
Sudden infant death syndrome
High blood pressure
Increased risk of sexual assault due to severe impairment
Hangover symptoms the next day
There are also various binge drinking long-term effects to watch out for, including:
Different types of cancers, including cancer of the breast, liver, colon, rectum, mouth, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus
Severe memory and learning problems
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders due to binge drinking while pregnant
If you notice any symptoms of alcohol poisoning in yourself or someone else, such as seizure, vomiting, confusion, unconsciousness, slowed breathing, or unresponsiveness, call 9-1-1 right away. Alcohol poisoning is a major risk of binge drinking and can be fatal if immediate medical care is not available.
Because alcohol dependence can occur after numerous binge drinking episodes, there is a chance that addiction can form. Binge drinking can be a sign of alcoholism, and when an individual starts to center their lives around drinking, this can be a serious issue. Seeking professional help is the only way to fully overcome alcohol addiction and start over.
For those who developed a strong alcohol dependence as a result of misuse, our faith-based recovery programs can provide you with the customized care and treatment you need to get sober. Alcoholism can cost you your life. Get the help you deserve now.