Binge drinking seems to be a favorite past-time for many college students, teenagers, and even adults. Some young adults may continue their drinking habits well into adult life. Binge drinking is the same as binging on junk food, or your favorite TV series, and as you know, this can create some unhealthy habits. Binge drinking is dangerous because it can cause both short- and long-term effects on your body as well as lead to alcohol abuse disorder and addiction.
What is Binge Drinking?
Binge drinking is defined when an individual participates in excessive alcohol consumption. This is considered as women having more than four or men having more than five alcoholic drinks within a 2-hour time frame. This can also include more than 8 for women and 15 for men on a weekly basis. Binge drinking is a well-known crisis within the United States. Every year over 38 million Americans experience issues with binge drinking which has caused approximately 88,000 alcohol-related deaths.
Excessive alcohol consumption can cause a person’s blood alcohol concentration to exceed 0.08, which is the legal limit in most of the United States. Binge drinking can also lead a person to participate in risky behavior such as drinking and driving. Binge drinking should not be confused with alcohol abuse and alcoholism or alcohol dependence. However, it can cause some of the same problems and risks.
Reasons for Binge Drinking
Often, the reason some college students and young people participate in binge drinking is to “have fun,” meet new people, or to fit in. However, others turn to excessive drinking to mask an underlying problem. Some people may drink because they feel it will help their loneliness or stress; however, drinking alcohol in excess can cause these feelings to become worse. Some other reasons individuals binge drink include:
- Troubles with intimate or family relationships
Dangers and Effects of Binge Drinking
The risks of binge drinking are not just short-term; there are long-term health dangers as well. Binge drinking does not only affect the user; it also affects everyone around them. Excessive drinking has cost the United States approximately $249 billion in 2010 because of health care, crime, loss of productivity, and other expenses.
The short-term effects of binge drinking can include:
- Serious injuries or death by burns, car accidents, falls or drowning
- Alcohol poisoning
- Poor academic performance
- Poor decision-making
Long-term effects include:
- Alcohol use disorder
- Decreased immune system
- Dementia or other deteriorating mental disease
- Fetal alcohol syndrome (if alcohol is consumed during pregnancy)
- High blood pressure
- Liver disease
- Nerve damage
- Neurological issues
- Other cardiovascular problems
Another serious risk attendant to binge drinking which is not easily categorized as either “short-term” or “long-term” is sexual assault. A 2001 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism study estimated that 25% of American women experienced some form of sexual assault. Of that number, half of the instances of assault involved alcohol use by one or both parties:
Approximately one-half of those cases involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, victim, or both. Alcohol contributes to sexual assault through multiple pathways, often exacerbating existing risk factors. Beliefs about alcohol’s effects on sexual and aggressive behavior, stereotypes about drinking women, and alcohol’s effects on cognitive and motor skills contribute to alcohol-involved sexual assault.
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol daily is often referred to as alcohol use disorder which can be classified as mild, moderate or severe.
Preventing Binge Drinking
On many college campuses, alcohol awareness and programs for treatment are available to help the students who suffer from binge drinking. Many college-sponsored alcohol awareness programs have leaders that go around the campus spreading awareness. Some of these programs give students different behavioral and coping skills needed to control drinking habits. Those who participate in these forms of groups are less likely to develop binge drinking habits or even alcohol use disorder.
Binge drinking is not limited to just college students. Individuals who decide to go out and have a good time with friends should show self-control. Having self-control can help prevent a drinking habit from forming. Eating properly before going out for the night can help reduce binge drinkers from getting intoxicated to a point where it becomes dangerous.
Many different programs can help individuals struggling with binge drinking including therapy, spiritual therapies, and counseling. Many rehabilitation centers such as Serenity Acres can help those with binge drinking recovery including inpatient and outpatient treatment programs. During treatment, patients will be able to understand and recognize if there is an underlying problem causing binge drinking.
Serenity Acres offers a detox program where addiction professionals assist patients through withdrawal symptoms. If you or someone you know participates in binge drinking, you owe it to yourself to get the treatment and help you deserve. Contact Serenity Acres for more information regarding our binge drinking treatment programs.