Consumption of alcohol lowers inhibitions, which makes it all too easy to reach for that next drink, even when you’ve had more than enough. Binge drinking has been a problem on college campuses for decades, despite many organized efforts to curtail it. No mere rite of passage, binge drinking is a public health crisis, affecting nearly 40 percent of college students.
It’s not only young adults who risk their health and their future this way. As the Centers for Disease Control states, “One in six US adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about seven drinks per binge.” Millions of people regularly indulge in this form of risky drinking, behavior that can potentially be life-altering, or even life-ending. Due to genetic and environmental factors, some heavy drinking individuals are at risk for developing alcohol use disorder (alcoholism). Alcoholics are often unable to stop their compulsive binge drinking behavior without the help of treatment.
What is Binge Drinking?
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines binge drinking as the consumption – at the same time, or within a two-hour period – of 5 or more drinks for men, and 4 or more for women, occurring on at least 1 day during the past month.
What is a “Drink”?
A standard drink is defined by a “pure” alcohol content of 0.6 fluid ounces or 14 grams per beverage. Examples of single drinks meeting this standard are a typical 12 fl oz can of beer, a 5 fl oz glass of table wine, or 1.5 fl oz of 80-proof distilled spirits (gin, rum, vodka, whiskey, etc.).
Risks of Heavy Drinking
It’s not just how much you drink, but the period of time involved. As the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism puts it, “Too Much + Too Often = Too Risky.” As applied to a healthy adult male, the NIAAA defines heavy drinking as more than 4 drinks on any day, or 14 per week. For the typical healthy adult female, the heavy drinking threshold is lower, at 3 drinks per day, or 7 per week.
1 out of 4 of heavy drinkers are alcoholics, and the rest are at increased risk of developing alcohol use disorder. In short, it’s a heavy load far too many are carrying, and at great cost. In addition to alcoholism, here are a few of the other dangers of binge drinking:
- Alcohol poisoning
- Unprotected sex, possibly leading to unplanned pregnancy or sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Sexual assault
- Alcohol-related injuries, including from drunk driving accidents
- Drowning (as in the tragic recent case of Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan)
- Memory loss and other forms of brain damage
- Liver disease
- Throat cancer (and other cancers of the upper body)
- Fetal alcohol syndrome
If you are concerned about your drinking or believe someone you love has a problem, please call Beauterre Recovery Institute today.