What is Binge Drinking?
Binge drinking is the consumption of many alcoholic beverages over a short period of time with the intention of becoming drunk. Binge drinking can last for a few hours or even up to several days. Many people relate binge drinking to people who are young and in college, typically between the ages of 18 and 25. However, the US Department of Health and Human Services has shown reports that 70% of binge drinkers are over the age of 25.
It should be noted that binge drinking is not the same as social drinking. Social drinking is being involved in a social interaction and consuming alcohol but having no intention of becoming intoxicated.
“Binge Drinkers are 14 times more likely to drive drunk than non-binge drinkers.” US Department of Health and Human Services
Nine Types of Binge Drinkers
The recommended amount of alcohol for a person is no more than two standard drinks (12.5 ml). British researchers from the UK Department of Health have carried out studies on people who consume twice the recommended amount of alcohol on a regular basis.
These studies helped them to identify nine types of binge drinkers.
These people may be of any age, gender, race, or economic group. They seek out comfort, safety, and security.
These drinkers may be men or woman; usually in the middle class; and will binge drink to relax and de-stress.
They are normally men between the ages of 45-59 and are considered blue collar workers. They feel the need to ‘fit-in’ and prefer to have order in their life.
These people can again be of any age, gender, etc. They binge drink because they have nothing to do and alcohol helps pass the time.
The person may drink alcohol in order to keep in touch with people who they feel are close to them. Binge drinking can come from this type of behavior.
These are normally men who spend a lot of their time in bars and pubs. They feel the need to be seen and stand out.
Normally men and woman of lower middle class often prefer the company of their friends; normally of the same class. They spend a lot of their time interacting with social groups while consuming alcohol.
They are often divorced or widowed who may have children that are now out of the house. Alcohol consumption may be used to express their independence.
These are normally men of various ages who ‘live’ at the bar or pub. They will frequent throughout the morning, afternoon, and night. They will be in the bar on weekends and weekdays. They try to become intoxicated fast and often. Often the border dependents quickly adopt an addiction to alcohol.
“Only one in five of all college students is a frequent (or weekly) binge drinker, but two-thirds of the alcohol consumed by college students is consumed by this group.” Harvard School of Public Health
Health Effects of Binge Drinking
Short Term Effects
The short term effects of binge drinking include: nausea, vomiting, headache, and memory loss of any events that occurred while bingeing. Drinking an excessive amount of alcohol can create confusion and impair a person’s judgment and their body coordination. The chances of the drinker having an accident increases significantly while under the influence of alcohol. The person may also engage in risky behavior; such as, unprotected sex and inappropriate conduct.
Long Term Effects
Developing sleeping disorders, mood swings, depression, irritability as well as other mental disorders are common long term effects of binge drinking. A common disease that is prevalent amongst binge drinkers is Cirrhosis, which causes the healthy liver tissue to be replaced with scarred tissue. Cirrhosis can lead to life threatening problems if left untreated. Over consumption of alcohol can also increase risks of developing: kidney problems, skin problems, infertility, impaired brain function, heart attack, and certain types of cancer. The risk of becoming addicted to alcohol is significantly increased when a person continues to binge drink on a regular basis.
Death by Alcohol
An excessive amount of alcohol over a short period of time can lead to alcohol poisoning. The heart rate and breathing may slow down and can even stop. A binge drinker’s gag reflex may not work properly and the person can choke on their own vomit, awake or asleep.
“Approximately 15% of all drinkers, or 1 in 7, will develop an alcohol abuse or dependence problem.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Simple Tips for Drinking Alcohol
While there is NO safe level of drinking alcohol there are certain things that a person can do to reduce the risks that alcohol and binge drinking may have.
According to certain studies, drinking no more than two standard (12.5 ml) drinks on any day, and no more than four standard drinks on any special occasion, can greatly reduce the chances of having an alcohol related injury or addiction.
Avoiding ‘top ups’ and having only one drink at a time can help a person to keep up with how much they have been drinking.
When a person is thirsty and consumes alcohol it can actually make them thirstier. Drinking a non-alcoholic beverage will quench a person’s thirst, and it also will help them to limit their alcohol intake.
It is important for a person to learn what binge drinking is, and what the consequences of binging are. If someone you know has a problem with binge drinking then it is important that they become aware of the problems binge drinking may lead to and the treatment options that are available.