Binge drinking is currently the most common pattern of excessive alcohol abuse in the United States. Binge drinking is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as a pattern of excessive drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration level to 0.08 and above. Binge drinking typically happens when groups of 3 or more individuals get together to consume as many alcoholic beverages as they can in a short period of time.
Binge drinking is more commonly defined as an act of excessive episodic drinking where individuals engage in the rapid consumption of alcohol until they get drunk. However, while binge drinking is often marginalized in this country as “social drinking” it can in fact be very dangerous and has cost the lives of countless of young individuals.
Difference between Binge Drinking and Social Drinking
While binge drinking is often confused with social drinking there are not always the same thing. Binge drinking is characterized as the rapid consumption of alcohol in order to get drunk, while social drinking is characterized as having a few drinks over the course of an evening. While social drinking can often turn into binge drinking episodes, there is a clear distinction between the two. Social drinking is generally defined as having about 4-5 alcoholic drinks in an evening, depending on body weight. Anything above that is considered more than enough to get someone intoxicated and is considered binge drinking.
Short term Health Effects of Binge Drinking
While binge drinking is often regarded as a fun, social activity where young people blow off steam, it also comes with a number of a dangerous and harmful side effects. First of all, binge drinking can lead to vomiting and alcohol overdose poisoning. While in most cases an individual will just vomit until they feel better, excessive binge drinking can slow down the body’s breathing and heart rate and can cause the gag reflex to stop working properly causing choking and asphyxiation. Other dangerous side effects include:
- Ruptured bladder
- Brain damage
- Alcohol overdose
Long term Effects of Binge Drinking
The long term effects of binge drinking can have a number of serious, even deadly consequences. Long term binge drinking places profound stress on the liver and can lead to what is commonly known as alcoholic liver disease, as well as alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver. Long term binge drinking can also increase the risk of:
- Kidney problem
- Birth defects in children born of women who engaged excessively in binge drinking while pregnant
- Heart attack and Stroke
- Stomach, lung and intestinal problems
- Impaired brain function
- Cancer of the tongue, throat, mouth, liver, and breast
Binge drinking is not a joke and should not be engaged in on a regular basis over a long period of time. While drinking alcohol among friends can be a great and fun experience, it’s always important to know when enough is enough.