Having a couple of drinks with your friends isn’t an activity that immediately warrants concern, but if the number of drinks and occasions increases, it might be.
Binge drinking accounts for nearly all excessive drinking cases, with over 90 percent of adults who drink heavily reporting binge drinking. It’s the most common pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States, with one-in-six adults regularly engaging in binge drinking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There are many different reasons why people binge drink, including—peer pressure, home or other environmental influences, social activities, poor mental health and more.
Though binge drinking isn’t always a sign of an alcohol addiction or use disorder, it’s not a safe or healthy practice and can carry multiple and serious long-lasting risks.
In this article, we’re going to give you an overview of what binge drinking is and what the effects can be, as well as what makes binge drinking so dangerous.
What is binge drinking?
Binge drinking is a pattern of excessive alcohol consumption that occurs within a short period of time with the general “goal” of achieving intoxication at a relatively quick rate.
Is binge drinking alcoholism? Despite affecting people in some of the same ways, they are not the same thing (though they can overlap). While binge drinking is commonly associated with alcoholism, not all those who engage in binge drinking have an alcohol use disorder.
The definition of what is considered binge drinking has varied over the years, and is actually different per country which can sometimes make it difficult to identify.
In the United States, binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks in one occasion for women, and five or more drinks in one occasion for men—according to research from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. This is the general rule of thumb, but it’s important to note that alcohol affects people differently, and factors such as body weight, tolerance and metabolism all influence how alcohol will affect a person.
Regardless of the factors involved and how they change a person’s response to alcohol, binge drinking can still have various negative effects on a person’s physical and mental health.
Binge drinking effects
Binge drinking can have serious short- and long-term effects on a person’s overall health.
The most common short-term effects of binge drinking are:
Impaired judgment and poor decision making
Poor coordination and lacking motor skills
Increased likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors
Dehydration, nausea and vomiting
Blackouts and hangovers
The most common long-term effects of binge drinking are:
Liver damage (fatty liver, liver disease or liver cancer)
Increased risk of alcohol addiction
Cardiovascular problems (high blood pressure, heart disease or a stroke)
Increased risk of developing cancer (specifically mouth, throat, esophagus and breast)
The development of mental health disorders
Social, professional and interpersonal challenges
It’s essential to recognize that both the short- and long-term consequences of binge drinking can wreak havoc on a person’s mental and emotional health, and at its worst, be life-threatening.
Why is binge drinking dangerous?
Binge drinking poses a variety of risks, not only to one’s mental and physical well-being but to their life overall.
Alcohol poisoning is one of the most common dangers of binge drinking. This happens when a large amount of alcohol is consumed rapidly and the body struggles to process it effectively. As a result, a toxic level of alcohol builds up in the bloodstream and when left untreated, it can be fatal.
Because binge drinking significantly impairs a person’s coordination, judgment, cognitive function and reaction time, it increases the likelihood of accidents and injuries. This can include vehicle crashes, falls, burns, drownings, fights and other incidents.
Binge drinking in social environments can be used to cope with stress or avoid problems in life, but it might not necessarily be representative of alcohol addiction. While an addiction may not be present, binge drinking can still be dangerous in and of itself.
Break the habit today
If you think you or someone you love is regularly engaging in binge drinking and can’t seem to stop, or you suspect you or they may have developed an alcohol use disorder, reach out to us.
Your safety and comfort are our top priorities; your long-term recovery is our mission. Here at Freedom Detox, we work closely with you to ensure you not only feel secure while you’re here but that you achieve the goals you set out to.
Our center is one of the only accredited and certified free-standing detox centers in North Carolina. We pride ourselves not only on this accomplishment, but also in the way it is reflected in the care of our patients.
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Our team wants to ensure that you are comfortable throughout your entire detox process, so we offer a wide array of amenities to make your stay with us as comfortable as possible.
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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as medical advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, a doctor-patient relationship.