What Is Binge Drinking?

Binge drinking is the act of men consuming five or more standard alcoholic drinks and women consuming four or more drinks within 2 hours. People of all ages partake in binge drinking, but half of all people who binge drink are aged 35 and older.

In the US, one in every six adults (17%) actively engaged in binge drinking behavior at some point in their lives.

Binge drinking should not be confused with the habit of heavy drinking, defined as consuming 15 or more alcoholic beverages within 7 days. However, there is a connection, as heavy drinking patterns can develop over time and lead to binge drinking behavior. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 90% of individuals who engage in heavy drinking also report regular binge drinking episodes.

It is important to understand that an instance of binge drinking does not mean someone has an alcohol use disorder (AUD), as there are occasions when individuals may engage in these forms of behavior outside of their normal, moderate drinking patterns (such as while on vacation, celebrations, etc.).

However, even infrequent binge drinking behaviors can increase the risk of serious medical conditions. The potential for developing an alcohol use disorder grows when binge drinking behaviors grow in frequency and severity.

Physical Side-Effects

Biologically, binge drinking is defined as developing a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater from drinking multiple alcoholic beverages in a short period of time. Higher percentages result in potentially serious medical events, including alcohol poisoning, at levels of .20% or higher depending on the body’s alcohol tolerance.

For an example of how BAC levels affect the body, it is easy to compare different physical symptoms.

High BAC levels can immediately start causing long and short-term effects on the body.

Examples of physical side-effects include:

How Binge Drinking Effects Your Life

Public health officials have designated binge drinking behavior as a very serious problem. The costs of health care, lost productivity from work, legal costs, and treatment expenses related to binge drinking behaviors resulted in over $250 billion in damages in the US.

Specified risks associated with binge drinking behaviors include:

These consequences can have a great impact on your life and your community. It is important to seek help if you feel like binge drinking has become a problem for you.

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Binge drinking can affect your life in many ways including negative effects on personal relationships, livelihood, and legal consequences.

Strain On Relationships

Alcohol use can put strain on important relationships including romantic partners, family members, and friends. Some of the most common consequences of binge drinking behaviors include conflict in important relationships, as increased intoxication reduces judgment capabilities. This pattern results in arguments from actions and conversations that would most likely not happen while sober, leading to a cycle of emotional distress and potentially increased alcohol use to “feel better”.

Serious emotional and behavioral health conditions may develop in these situations, including depression, anxiety disorders, and other substance use disorders that can grow in severity without treatment.

Effects On Employment And Education

Increased frequency of binge drinking can often result in increased frequency in disruption to employment and school responsibilities. Binge drinking can cause rebound symptoms (hangovers) the next day, which can lead to people missing work or school or functioning at a lower capacity than expected. If this becomes a continued issue, it may pose a serious risk of losing one’s employment or enrollment.

Legal Consequences

Legal consequences from alcohol use are quite serious. Driving while intoxicated or under the influence (DWI/DUI) is a very serious offense that occurs when an individual drives a motor vehicle while having a BAC of .06% or greater, as the chances of causing an accident grow tremendously as the BAC level grows. DWI/DUI events can impact almost every area of an individual’s life and are one of the leading causes of accidental death while binge drinking.

Find Support For Alcohol Abuse

Binge drinking behavior and heavy drinking patterns can lead to serious consequences, and continued frequency can lead to the development of an alcohol use disorder, which can become a life-threatening condition on its own.

If you or a loved one are struggling with the consequences of binge drinking alcohol, it may be time to seek help.

There are many forms of treatment options and solutions available, please contact a treatment provider for more information today.