People often assume that a person who has problems with alcohol drinks every day or drinks all day long. However, binge drinking is also a dangerous way to consume alcohol. It’s just so common that many people overlook it. They assume that drinking a lot at social gatherings only results in a hangover, but this isn’t the case. Binge drinking can cause physical and psychological problems. It also puts the user at a greater risk of being involved in a fatal accident or otherwise suffering an injury. Moreover, it can lead to addiction.
Binge-drinking is most common among college students but people over the age of 35 and elderly individuals also engage in the practice. If you or someone you know binge drinks and has developed a problem, they need to seek professional help for alcohol addiction. In this article, we’ll explain exactly what binge drinking is and go into more detail about the dangers.
Binge Drinking Defined
The definition of binge drinking differs slightly depending on whose drinking habits are involved. For women, consuming four or more alcoholic drinks within two hours is considered binge drinking. For men, it’s five or more drinks within the same time frame. It doesn’t matter whether the beverages are hard liquor, beer or wine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that around a sixth of adults in the United States binge drink four times per month. Almost 20 percent of those who binge drink are under the legal drinking age.
Why Binge Drinking Occurs
There are many reasons why people binge drink. Often, they engage in the practice when at parties or raves. Some people binge drink so they can fit it in with their peers. Others want to become less socially awkward while some want to experience what it’s like to be intoxicated. Among the youngest users, drinking can be a form of rebellion.
According to the CDC, most binge drinkers aren’t alcohol-dependent. However, binge-drinking can indicate a serious problem, or it can lead to one. Drinking multiple drinks in a two-hour period is problematic if:
- You’re drinking to distract yourself from negative experiences or feelings
- You’re drinking to get extremely intoxicated
- You’re drinking to self-medicate
- You experience strong cravings for alcohol
- You’ve developed an addiction
The Effects of Binge Drinking
Repeated episodes of binge drinking can be harmful. People who abuse alcohol often struggle with mental health problems like anxiety and depression. Although drinking may start out as a way to cope with psychological problems, it can make them worse over time. Using alcohol as an escape from problems in your life is not sustainable. Drinking heavily over a short period also causes a variety of short-term physical and mental issues. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system and the more you drink, the more obvious the physical effects are. In addition to the usual hangover, the effects include:
- Low blood sugar
- Irregular heartbeat
- Lack of coordination
Binge drinking also leads to psychological effects. It can reduce focus and judgment and make you more likely to engage in risky practices like crime or unsafe sex.
Mental and psychological effects often include:
- Memory lapses
- Increased appetite
- Reduced inhibition
As noted earlier, drinking heavily in a short amount of time also leads to serious accidents and injuries. These include:
- Traffic fatalities
- Sexual assault
- Domestic violence
Over time, binge drinking can cause other social and health issues. The more frequently a person engages in binge drinking, the more likely they are to develop long-term problems. Issues that may develop include:
- Heart disease
- Liver disease
- High blood pressure
- Memory problems
- Nerve damage
- Weakened immune system
- Poor work performance
Repeated binge-drinking can also result in increased tolerance and subsequent dependence. Dependence makes it difficult for an individual to stop drinking or even reduce their consumption. People who are dependent may eventually develop an addiction and they could experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking. Withdrawal symptoms can appear within 12 hours of consuming the last drink.
Getting Treatment for Alcohol Abuse or Addiction
If you binge drink frequently despite experiencing negative consequences, you should consider seeking professional help. There’s no need to struggle alone or feel ashamed about your situation while your personal and professional lives suffer. No matter how long you’ve been experiencing problems with alcohol use, you can develop healthier practices. If you’re ready to get help from recovery experts, reach out to Asheville Recovery Center and learn about our treatment options. We offer personalized interventions. Contact us today!