Going for a drink after work is a cultural norm in workspaces all over the world, and one of the many things to which anyone from any country can relate. With alcohol, of course, there is the potential for abuse, as alcohol is the most-abused drug in the world, and cultural norms surrounding alcohol are shifting to include a change in the way that alcohol is consumed. Part hobby, part bragging, binge-drinking is something that likely started as a way of elevating the mood of a party, and evolved and spread as each and every college campus became more accessible.
Binge drinking is the practice of taking in more than five servings of alcohol within two hours. This number, of course, is slightly subjective – what makes one person incoherently drunk may not have the same effect on another person, and men and women generally have different tolerances. Drinking beyond the legal limit for alcohol intoxication has a string of consequences, some of which, of course, are legal.
The other repercussions of imbibing too much alcohol can put your health and safety at serious risk, with blackouts common across the spectrum of race, sex, and class. Binge-drinking happens among teens, but far less frequently, partially because teens are unlikely to have the necessary funds for the purchase of the large amounts of alcohol that can be consumed in a single night. College students, however, generally have more economic freedom, and much easier access to alcohol.
Who Is Binge Drinking?
When the problem of binge-drinking reached mainstream attention, the main participants were college and college-age men. Women have been increasing their amount of alcohol intake, and more regularly participating in binge-drinking culture across the country. Binge-drinking and the associated culture have actually changed the way that alcohol is abused – the phenomena is so new, educational institutions, scientists, and law enforcement agencies are struggling to keep up with the other changes that come with it.
While no one knows for sure, binge-drinking seems to have begun on college campuses – older teens and young adults are well-known for their appetite for partying, and for their willingness to engage in risky lifestyles and risky activities. This makes this group of young people vulnerable to binge-drinking, but also to other types of addiction. Some addictions begin with alcoholism, whatever form it may take, and branch into other extremely damaging habits. Binge-drinking is alcohol abuse, and might be indicative of deeper issues laying within a young person today.
It is not only college and college-age students that are at risk of developing alcoholism as a result of frequent binge-drinking – first responders are a rarely-considered, vulnerable group of people prone to alcoholism and other addiction. Emergency room doctors and nurses see all types of terrorizing and traumatic injuries, and are sometimes unable to save lives, though not for lack of effort.
The Dangers of Binge Drinking
For a variety of reasons, binge-drinking goes hand-in-hand with increased incidents of sexual assault. Anytime there is an environment that involves drinking, drugs, and music, there is an increased risk of some types of criminal behavior, in addition to use of the drugs themselves. The numbers of alcohol-related sexual assault cases are terrifying: it’s estimated that half of sexual assaults occur after the perpetrator has been drinking. The more alcohol involved, the more dangerous the situation can be for the victim. When a person is impaired by alcohol, they may black out. A person who loses control of themselves, and commits a sexual assault may not remember that it happened, and this is all the more reason to avoid drinking to the point of blacking out. You could hurt someone, or yourself, and justice for victims of sexual assault is often insufficient, relative to the trauma that affects the victim after the crime.
Binge-drinking comes with a number of different dangers in addition to the horrors of sexual assault. Assault itself becomes a more likely possibility, as tensions may run high when a group of people drink, and experience heightened emotions. In addition to violence, vandalism, harassment, theft, and other minor crimes become more frequent. While this is also a symptom of a community heavily affected by alcoholism, but it is nevertheless becoming more common in a culture that presses young people to the limit.
These limits aren’t just based in whatever the trendiest teens are doing, but it remains a point of accountability. In response to ever-increasing pressures placed on young people, young people are doing as people have always done – looking for comfort in release at regular parties. For young people who are in college, the number of double- and triple-majors, as well as students living off campus, is higher than ever. Increased competition means increased stress, and increased stress can lead someone to take comfort in alcohol, and any available fun.
Let’s not forget the individuals who are not enrolled in an educational program, but are within the age group who are most likely to binge-drink. Among young adults, those most likely to report binge-drinking tended to be males under the age of 21. Women absolutely engage in binge-drinking, though their participation is different from that of men – while women obviously drink, statistically, women only consume about 20% of the alcohol consumed in any year, compared to men of the same age. Men also comprise roughly 90% of reported binge-drinking. Also reported is the frequency of binge-drinking, which can be shocking: just over 15% of people who report binge-drinking report doing so several times per month.
While binge-drinking isn’t necessarily a symptom of alcohol dependency, it is still a dangerous and expensive practice. Across the United States, it is estimated that binge-drinking costs Americans nearly $200 billion. The cost of the alcohol, the cost of law enforcement services, and the cost of prosecuting individuals in question drive the cost of the phenomena that has only increased in popularity as young people pour into college and into the workforce. As stated before, there is no guarantee that alcoholism will manifest itself in binge-drinking. However, binge-drinking could feasibly lead a person down the path to alcohol dependency. Rehab is a great option for anyone who’s having a difficult time managing their dependence on alcohol.
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