What Constitutes Binge Drinking?
Binge drinking is defined by the Webster’s International Dictionary as “excessive amounts of alcohol consumption during a short period of time” and according to the CDC is the most common form of alcohol consumption in the U.S. An example of this would be drinking four or more drinks within the course of two hours. This can be a common trait in alcoholics, people who abuse the consumption of alcohol, and has a wide range of unpleasant side-effects. The most common side-effect of binge drinking is probably vomiting: the rapid, excessive consumption of alcohol can and often will cause the body to reject the toxins via throwing it up. Some people have developed a tolerance to this method of consumption, however, and are able to hold the drinks down while feeling less intoxicated, but this does not make binge drinking any less hazardous to your physical, or mental, well-being.
According to national surveys, binge drinking is most common among adults ages 18-34, and approximately 92 percent of adults in the United States that binge drink report binge drinking within the past month. On top of that, surveys also say more than half of the alcohol consumed in the U.S. is in the form of binge drinking, an alarming statistic to be sure. It is also associated with social harm, financial struggles (due to spending so much money on alcohol) and a higher risk of disease.
How It Affects Your Health
Binge drinking can produce a plethora of risks towards your physical and mental health both long-term and short term. Immediate problems include alcohol poisoning, high blood pressure, stroke, and sexual dysfunction. Long term effects can be neurological damage and liver disease, there can also be cardiac, hematologic (issues with the blood), and immune-system problems that can occur with binge drinking. This kind of drinking can also cause brain damage even faster and much more severely than chronic drinking (alcoholism).
Binge drinking is also regularly associated with being “black-out drunk.” This is when you have so much alcohol in your system that you can no longer remember your actions, or pass out entirely. Some would even suggest that, during this period, you no longer have control over yourself. A lot of ridiculous, belligerent behavior is associated with black-out binge drinking and the act tends to lead to killer hang-overs, confusion, and embarrassing videos. Continuously binge drinking to the point of blackout leads to long-term brain damage, and difficulty with memory.
The more one indulges in binge drinking the more physical and mental side-affects can occur. This may seem like common sense, but the fact of the matter is that it is often overlooked and thought of as “just having a good time,” or “cutting loose” instead of seeing binge drinking for the damaging habit that it truly is. Alcohol, by itself, can be a nice treat but in excess it is very dangerous. Short-term effects of binge drinking include vomiting, difficulties breathing, distorted hearing and vision, anemia (the loss of red blood cells), and even going comatose. Some of the long-term effects are even fatal: we mentioned a few of them earlier, but here we’re going to look at a few more in depth.
The scariest long-term effect of binge drinking and alcohol abuse is, without a doubt, cancer. Yes, alcohol abuse can cause cancer in three different parts of your body: the mouth, the throat, and the liver. Cancer is defined by Webster’s as a disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells. These cells then attack one another and start to destroy the body/body part where the cancer is prevalent. Cancer can spread to more than one body part as the cells devour one another and is fatal. Now think, is that seventh drink really worth it?
Other long-term effects include Ulcers, an open sore on an internal or external surface of the body. These are caused when there is a break in the skin or mucous membrane that fails to heal. These are incredibly painful and can be fatal if it goes untreated. You can also develop vitamin deficiencies, which can then lead into amnesia and disorientation.
Nerve damage is another dangerous side-effect of long-term binge drinking and alcohol abuse. Your nervous system is involved in literally every single inch of your body: nerves are what cause pain, pleasure and sensory function in your body and without them we would have absolutely no physical sense, among other things. There are three types of nerves in your body: Autonomic (involuntary actions such as heart rate), Motor (movements and actions from your brain and spine to the muscles) and Sensory (the relay of information from skin and muscle to the spinal cord and brain, allowing you to feel.) Because the nervous system is so crucial to our quality of life, any and all damage to it has a very serious impact on the way you live. Damage to these nerves relates to muscle atrophy, twitching, paralysis, the inability to detect chest pain, burning sensations, numbness, and many, MANY more highly unpleasant symptoms.
There are a lot of ways binge drinking and alcohol abuse can affect your life, and all of them are negative. Alcohol dependency is harmful not just to your state of mind but to your body, to your relationships, and even your professional career.
Possible Signs of Dependency and Binge Drinking
Binge drinking is a serious problem in today’s youth, especially in college-ages, but alcohol abuse doesn’t discriminate ages and can affect anyone, regardless of race, age or gender. If you suspect someone of abusing alcohol to the point of regular binge drinking, there are several signs you can keep an eye out for. They may not remember the previous night after having gone out, blood shot eyes, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or sensitivity to light and sound. Other symptoms include moodiness, irritability, loss of appetite, aches, body shakes, anxiety and dizziness, all of which can occur the morning after excessive, binge drinking.
If someone you know is struggling with alcohol dependency, and you think they might even be binge drinking on a regular basis, then it’s time to get them help. If you are someone who is struggling with alcohol abuse and you know you are prone to binge drinking, then know that you have many different venues for help. Check out our other pages for information on 12-Step programs, detoxification and rehabilitation. It’s time to get help and get yourself back a clean, sober, healthy lifestyle.
If you or a loved one is displaying the signs of binge drinking, don’t hesitate any longer. Call us today at (520) 288-8484.