Binge drinking is a dangerous activity, but most people who do it don’t realize the risks they are taking. One in six adults binge drinks on a regular basis, up to four times a month. Americans of all age groups binge drink, and among college students it is particularly troubling and problematic.
So what exactly is binge drinking and is binge drinking addiction a real thing? Learn more about binge drinking and how dangerous it is so you make better choices and cut back before you suffer the consequences of drinking too much.
What is binge drinking?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define binge drinking as drinking enough to have a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher. For the average man this means having five or more drinks in a period of two hours, and four in the same period for women. If you drink this much or more in one setting, you binge drink. If you drink and get drunk enough to be over the legal driving limit, you binge drink.
What is the harm?
There are a number of ways in which binge drinking can hurt you. Many of these are the accidents that can occur when you are drunk. Unintentional accidents, like car accidents, falls, burns or drowning, are common when binge drinking. Other accidents are related to the lower inhibitions you experience when binge drinking. Having unprotected sex is more likely when you binge and can lead to pregnancy or disease transmission. Assaults are also more likely when people binge drink.
Binge drinking is also bad for your physical health because of the large quantities of alcohol. Drinking to excess is bad for your health. It leads to liver disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, an increased risk of having a stroke and neurological damage. Binge drinking also worsens chronic health conditions like diabetes.
Are binge drinkers alcoholics?
Another major concern for anyone who binge drinks is addiction. Binge drinking and alcoholism don’t always coexist. In fact, most binge drinkers aren’t alcoholics, yet. But when you binge drink, you put yourself at a greater risk of becoming an alcoholic. One of the earliest signs of developing an addiction to alcohol is tolerance. If you binge often, you may begin to find that you need more and more alcohol to feel the desired effect. So you drink more. If you keep going down that path, you could become addicted.
Treatment for binge drinking
Just because you binge but aren’t an alcoholic doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from some type of substance abuse treatment. Binge drinking treatment has been shown to help people who are abusing alcohol change their behaviors and learn to drink in moderation. Drinking moderately is much better for your overall health, and if you can learn to make changes early, you can avoid many of the ill health effects of excessive drinking. You can also avoid becoming an alcoholic, which is a lifelong disease.