Long-term damage caused by heavy alcohol is no joke, it’s a serious issue that can happen to anyone who keeps their drinking habits left unchecked. Many health problems develop with chronic binge drinkers. Studies show that even a single episode of a binge drinking may cause serious damage, not just for your brain, but for other parts of the body as well. Let’s discuss what binge drinking is and how it affects you.
What is Binge Drinking?
The practice of drinking large amounts of alcohol in a single sitting is binge drinking, usually defined as five or more drinks for a man, or four or more drinks at a time for a woman. It is a serious and seemingly unavoidable problem of public health. Binge drinking in the United States is the most common, expensive, and deadly patterns of alcohol use.
Binge drinking is a drinking pattern that takes a person to 0.08% blood alcohol levels (BAC) or higher. Alcohol enters the system and stays for some time and the level of BAC is measured through a person’s bloodstream. It occurs usually if men have 5 or more drinks or if females ingest 4 or more of them in 2 hours.
Who Binge Drinks?
- One in six people in the United States consumes alcohol four times a month, and they consume about seven beers a session. The effect is a minimum of 17 billion binge drinking sessions or over 300 drinks each year for adults.
- Beverages in younger adults aged 18–34 are most common, but more than one-half of the total number of beverages are consumed by those aged 35 or older.
- Binge drinking is twice as common for men as women.
- Binge drinking is more common among people with household incomes of $75,000 or more and higher educational levels. Binge drinkers with lower incomes and educational levels, however, consume more binge drinks per year.
- More than 90% of US adults who have been drinking over the last 30 days report having binge drinking.
- Many adults under the age of 21 who consume alcohol admit frequent binge drinking, often in large quantities.
Facts About Binge Drinking
When you think of binge drinking, most often we think of young people, especially college students. But older people also binge drink quite frequently. It’s a habit that can carry on until your dying day, especially if left unchecked.
- Binge drinking can cause alcohol toxicity, a fatal condition, sometimes, due to a short period of drinking.
- Binge drinking can result in significant to serious accidental injuries (from collisions, burns, etc.) Beverages can also lead to abuse when people lose their inhibitions and experience disturbances in social situations.
- Irresponsible drinking can lead to other serious conditions like diabetes, heart attacks, or even diseases like HIV from risky sexual encounters.
- Young people, 18-22-year-olds, binge drink most often. Based on the study by Michigan University, 35% of university students binge drank regularly.
- Binge drinking is not the same as drinking alcohol. Most people who binge drink do so “for pleasure,” but are not conscious of the harmful effects.
How Will it Affect an Individual?
Besides increasing the risk of injury, binge drinking impairs the normal functions and abilities of the body. Alcohol consumption can lead to strong physical and psychological dependence on the substance over a long period of time. For those who frequently binge drink and leave their habit unchecked for some time, they can expect to see symptoms such as these:
- Blood and immune system: The chronic use of alcohol can lead to anemia, low platelets, and a suppressed, malnourished immune system.
- Bones and muscles: Long-term alcohol use can interfere with calcium absorption and bone formation. This is likely to cause osteoporosis.
- Brain and nervous system: High levels of alcohol use increase the risk of stroke, leading to dementia and/or impaired motor function.
- Mental condition: Heavy drinkers are at increased risk of depression, panic, and paranoia.
- Sexual health: Chronic alcohol abuse in men and women may reduce fertility and sexual drive for both genders.
- Intestines: The absorption of vitamins and other intestinal nutrients may be impaired by high alcohol intake. It may result in malnutrition.
- Heart: High blood pressure, heartbeat or sudden death from heart failure may come about from frequent alcohol abuse.
- Kidneys: Alcohol is a substance that causes serious issues in the kidneys. This can lead to dehydration and critically low concentrations of sodium, potassium, as well as other essential vitamins/minerals.
- Lungs: Alcohol affects the gag reflex, which can cause vomit, saliva or other materials to enter the lungs. This may lead to swelling or lung infection.
- Pancreas: High alcohol consumption may cause dangerously low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) for a single session.
- Sexual health: Drinking increases the chance of unsafe sex which may trigger unplanned pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
What You Can Do to Stop Binge Drinking
If you don’t know where to begin with your binge-drinking behavior, then you can start by being honest with yourself. Think about how much you drink and what you think the short-term and lasting effects are going to come about from your behavior. Be careful also of places and people that will cause you to drink alcohol. Replace alcohol with other drinks at home and avoid situations in which you may experience binge drinking.
For once, do not be scared to ask for assistance. Your primary care doctor, your staff assistant provider, or a consultant can motivate you to get you on the right track. It may be hard to reduce your drinking but you’ll be better off without it. Stop harming your health and improve your overall wellbeing. You are going to live a life that you don’t have to drink to feel complete or have fun.
Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.