Binge drinking is a term used to describe a pattern of excessive alcohol consumption that results in a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in a short amount of time. Binge drinking can have serious consequences for a person's health, including increased risk of alcohol poisoning, liver disease, and a variety of cancers. In addition to these health risks, binge drinking can also lead to a host of legal, social, and academic problems.
With alcohol consumption being a significant part of American culture, it can be difficult to identify when it becomes an issue. If you believe you or a loved one struggles with alcohol use disorder, it is vital to seek help. MATClinics provides evidence-based treatment methods, including therapy and medication, to aid you in your journey toward sobriety.
Defining Binge Drinking
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person's BAC to 0.08 percent or above. For most people, this occurs after four drinks for women and five drinks for men consumed within two hours. However, it's important to note that this is just a guideline, and that individuals may experience the effects of binge drinking at lower levels of alcohol consumption.
It's also important to note that binge drinking isn't the same as alcoholism or alcohol dependence. Binge drinking is a pattern of excessive alcohol consumption that occurs periodically, while alcohol use disorder is a chronic condition characterized by a physical and psychological dependence on alcohol.
The Risks of Binge Drinking
Binge drinking can have serious consequences for a person's health, both in the short and long-term.
If a person drinks too much alcohol too quickly, their body may not be able to process it all at once. This can lead to alcohol poisoning, which can be life-threatening. Symptoms of alcohol poisoning include confusion, vomiting, seizures, slow breathing, and loss of consciousness.
Long-term binge drinking can lead to liver disease, including cirrhosis, which is a chronic and irreversible condition that can lead to liver failure. Symptoms of liver disease include unexplained weight loss, yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice), and passing blood in stools.
According to the National Cancer Institute, long-term excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to an increased risk of several types of cancer, including mouth, throat, liver, breast, and colorectal cancers.
Binge drinking can also lead to social problems, including relationship problems, decreased productivity, and financial difficulties. It can also lead to legal problems, including driving under the influence (DUI) and other alcohol-related offenses.
Notably, binge drinking is very common in college students, and can lead to poor academic performance. The NIHAAA found that students who binge drink were six times more likely to perform poorly in school than those who didn’t binge drink, and fives times more likely to miss class as a result of binge drinking.
Preventing Binge Drinking
There are several steps that individuals can take to prevent binge drinking, including:
- Setting Limits: Individuals can set limits on the amount of alcohol they consume and stick to those limits.
- Drinking Water: Drinking water between alcoholic drinks can help individuals stay hydrated and reduce the risk of alcohol poisoning.
- Avoiding Peer Pressure: Individuals should feel comfortable saying no to peer pressure to drink excessively.
- Seeking Help: If an individual feels that they cannot control their alcohol consumption, they should seek help from a healthcare provider like MATClinics or a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
Seek Alcohol Treatment at MATClinics
If you or a loved one struggles with alcohol use disorder, reach out to MATClinics today to discuss your alcohol treatment options. We use a combination of medication and therapy to help patients reach sobriety.