Binge Drinking Facts: Definition, Effects, and Dangers
Binge drinking facts for the United States are truly frightening. Every month, 1 in 6 adults indulges in binge drinking. Most of these binge drinkers are between 18 and 34 years of age and more men than women say that they are binge drinkers.
This may be expected, but what is not as expected is the fact that over 50% of binge drinkers are over the age of 35. Let’s look at some other startling facts related to binge drinking and alcohol use disorder (AUD).
What Is Binge Drinking?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), binge drinking is the excessive consumption of alcohol. It is drinking that causes your blood alcohol concentration to rise above 0.08%. Typically, this occurs when men consume at least five alcoholic drinks within two hours. For women, binge drinking is when they consume at least four alcoholic drinks within two hours.
A well-known example of binge drinking is the scene in countless movies where a party is taking place at a fraternity house and college students are consuming large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time. Their intention is to become drunk in as little time as possible, and they usually succeed.
Why Is Binge Drinking Problematic?
Binge drinking is problematic because it causes several health issues. When people binge drink, they begin to experience memory problems and trouble learning. Binge drinking also increases the risk of developing several cancers and diseases, including:
- Colon cancer
- Liver cancer
- Esophagus cancer
- Throat cancer
- Mouth cancer
- Breast cancer
- Liver disease
- Heart disease
Binge drinking also affects babies. Babies are more likely to die of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or have fetal alcohol spectrum disorders when born to mothers who binge drink during pregnancy. While the fetus is in the womb, it is more likely to miscarry or be stillborn.
Binge drinking can also lead to unintended pregnancies and/or sexually transmitted diseases if protection isn’t used properly.
Violence also occurs because of binge drinking. Here are some of the more startling binge drinking facts: Many binge drinkers committed suicide or are raped, murdered, or become victims of abuse by a significant partner. People also drive after binge drinking, which can cause crashes. Several people have unintentionally burned themselves or taken bad falls while binge drinking. According to the CDC, there are approximately 2,200 deaths in the U.S. due to alcohol poisoning each year, as well. This doesn’t have to be. Help for binge drinking is available.
What Are the Short-Term Effects of Binge Drinking?
Short-term effects of binge drinking include the following:
- Low blood sugar
- Low electrolyte levels
- Heart failure
- An irregular heartbeat
- Acute inflammation of the pancreas, stomach, and liver
- Depression of the gag reflex, which can cause a person to choke on his or her vomit
What’s the Difference Between Binge Drinking and Alcoholism?
Alcoholism means that someone is regularly abusing alcohol. To be diagnosed as an alcoholic, you must be engaging in the most serious form of alcohol abuse. Known as “alcohol use disorder,” someone with AUD is dependent on alcohol. This means that the person believes that he or she cannot function normally without alcohol. That’s because the person experiences withdrawal symptoms without it, which makes it nearly impossible for the person to drink less.
When someone is binge drinking, they are not necessarily dependent on alcohol. For example, they don’t feel as if they need to drink to feel “right.” A binge drinker doesn’t necessarily drink every day, but someone with AUD does feel that need. Binge drinking does not lead to compulsive drinking that causes the person to seek alcohol on a daily basis. A consistent drinker of alcohol becomes accustomed to receiving alcohol, and this is what the body expects. That is why a binge drinker can stop drinking if he or she wants to and someone with AUD can’t.
Binge drinking is only one symptom of alcohol use disorder. Therefore, if you or a loved one binge drinks, you do not necessarily need treatment for AUD. The fact is that binge drinking is an activity that can lead to AUD.
Receive Help at Lifetime Recovery Today
Binge drinking facts can be tough to face — especially if they have a personal connection to you or someone you love. If you need treatment for substance use disorder, Lifetime Recovery can help you. That is because AUD is a disease of the brain, which requires that you receive professional treatment.
When you have this disease, the brain releases dopamine when you consume alcohol. Then, your body associates the pleasurable feelings from dopamine with drinking alcohol, and the cravings encourage you to drink more of it.
As time goes on and you continue to drink, your tolerance level goes up. That’s when you need to increase the amount of alcohol you consume so that you can continue to feel the same effects. If you were to stop on your own after this vicious cycle begins, the withdrawal symptoms would make you take a drink again. This is why most people cannot stop drinking without professional assistance.
You can receive help for binge drinking from Lifetime Recovery. We will place you or your loved one in our detoxification program, which will relieve you of your physical dependence on alcohol. After this is over, you will be in a condition to obtain therapy that will eliminate your psychological dependence on alcohol. If you or your loved one want to end your dependence on alcohol, give us a call today.