Binge drinking describes the problematic behavior of consuming enough alcoholic drinks to bringing the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 percent or higher. Drinking about four drinks in two hours achieves 0.08 BAC.
Do you have someone in your life who you’re worried about because they’re drinking too much alcohol? If you’re concerned that your loved one may be engaging in binge drinking, it’s important to understand what this term means.
In this article, you will learn what binge drinking is, the risks associated with this behavior, and how you can get help for your loved one.
Binge drinking is an ongoing, heavy drinking pattern that can lead to serious health problems. According to the NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism), binge drinking is when men have 5+ standard drinks (14 grams of alcohol) in a two-hour period or when women have 4+ standard drinks in a two-hour period.
Binge drinking is a serious problem because it can lead to alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal. Additionally, long-term consequences of binge drinking can include liver damage, heart disease, and brain damage.
If you’re worried about someone you love, it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of binge drinking. Let’s explore these below, as well as why people binge drink and more. But first, let’s discuss how common binge drinking is in the United States.
How Common Is Binge Drinking?
Binge drinking is a serious problem in the United States. The NIAAA states that about one in six American adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming eight or more drinks on each occasion. This equates to about 17 billion binge drinks being consumed by adults in the United States every year!
Binge drinking is most common among young adults aged 18-22 years, and men are more likely to binge drink than women. However, women are more likely to develop alcohol use disorder (AUD) as a result of their drinking.
Risk Factors for Binge Drinking
There are many factors that contribute to someone’s risk of developing a drinking problem. Some of these include:
- Family history of alcoholism or other substance abuse disorders
- Mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder
- Peer pressure
- Easy access to alcohol
- Stressful life circumstances
Binge drinking is most common in young adults, but anyone can develop a problem with alcohol. If you are concerned that someone you know may be at risk of developing a drinking problem, keep reading to learn the warning signs to look for.
Why Do People Binge Drink?
There are many reasons why people may start to binge drink. Some people do it to fit in with a certain group or because they think it will make them feel more confident. Others may start drinking heavily because they’re trying to cope with a difficult situation, such as a break-up or losing a job.
As with drug addiction and abuse, binge drinking is often a way to numb emotional pain or escape from reality. For some people, it may start as a way to relax or relieve boredom but quickly spirals out of control.
Binge Drinking Warning Signs
Binge drinking can be extremely dangerous and even life-threatening. If you suspect that someone you care about is engaging in this behavior, it’s important to be on the lookout for warning signs. Some common ones include:
- Drinking more alcohol than usual or in larger amounts
- Feeling the need to drink in order to relax or feel better
- Having problems at work or school due to drinking
- Experiencing financial problems due to spending too much money on alcohol
- Drinking despite negative consequences, such as losing a job or getting into legal trouble
- Having trouble recalling what happened while drinking or blacking out altogether
- Needing to drink more and more alcohol in order to feel the same effects
- Withdrawing from friends and activities that used to be enjoyable
- Experiencing health problems due to drinking, such as liver damage or gastrointestinal issues
- Feeling hopeless, depressed, or suicidal
If you notice any of these warning signs in yourself or someone you care about, it’s important to get help right away. Binge drinking is a serious problem that can lead to long-term consequences or even death if it’s not treated. There are many resources available to help people who are struggling with this issue, so don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance.
Consequences and Health Effects of Binge Drinking
Binge drinking can become a dangerous habit for several reasons:
- Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, which means it slows down the body’s ability to function properly. When someone drinks too much, they can begin to feel confused, drowsy, and even fall into a coma.
- Binge drinking can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. This occurs because the alcohol prevents the body from retaining water and causes the body to lose minerals such as sodium and potassium. Dehydration can cause dizziness, headache, and even seizures.
- Alcohol is metabolized in the liver, and when someone drinks too much, it can lead to a build-up of toxins in the organ. This can cause inflammation, scarring, and, eventually, liver disease and failure.
- Binge drinking increases the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Alcohol can damage DNA and lead to the formation of cancerous cells. People who drink heavily are at an increased risk for mouth, esophageal, throat, breast, and colon cancer.
- When someone is intoxicated, they are more likely to make poor decisions or take risks that they wouldn’t normally take. This can result in accidents, like car crashes, or injuries, like falls.
- Alcohol abuse is a risk factor for developing depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric disorders. For people who already have mental health problems, drinking can make them worse.
- Finally, binge drinking can lead to death. Alcohol poisoning is a serious and potentially deadly consequence of drinking too much alcohol too quickly. Symptoms related to alcohol poisoning include slow breathing, vomiting, seizures, decreased body temperature, and passing out.
People may start to binge drink for different reasons. But the effects of binge drinking carry several negative consequences that can occur as a result of this behavior. It’s important to be aware of these risks and to get help if you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol abuse.
You want what’s best for your loved one, and you may feel like you’re the only one who can help them through this. But addiction is a difficult thing to overcome, and it’s important to remember that you can’t do it alone.
That’s why there’s NYC Addiction Resources. We’re here to help you and your loved ones find the resources and support you need to overcome addiction. Our staff and partners are committed to providing you with the best possible care, and we’re here to support you every step of the way.
If your loved one struggles with addiction, we encourage you to reach out to us. You can visit our site or call us at 718-208-4202.