Every year, approximately one in four American adults consume several drinks in a short period of time. The majority of American adults say that they binge drink at least once a month, sometimes more frequently. During these binges, they usually consume about seven drinks.
What Constitutes Binge Drinking?
You might imagine a wild college or high school party when you hear the term “binge drinking.”. However, binge drinking isn’t restricted to college or high school students. In some studies, older adults are even more likely to engage in the habit.
Binge drinking is characterized by short but heavy bouts of alcohol consumption. It takes two hours of drinking this way for your blood alcohol level to reach the legal limit of intoxication (0.08 percent in the U.S.). Adult females usually drink four to five drinks a day, while adult males generally drink five or more drinks a day.
At the moment, it might seem fine to drink this much, but in the long run, you may regret it. Physically, you may experience headaches, nausea, fatigue, and poor sleep. In the aftermath of your drunken behavior, you might feel shame and embarrassment. The next morning, you might wonder, “Did I do anything stupid to endanger my family? Was I unconscious and may have left myself vulnerable?” Your memory lapses only make you feel dreadful and confused the next day.
There may also be concerns that alcohol is damaging your brain or your heart permanently. It is possible to develop a sense of self-loathing if you engage in excessive alcohol use on a recurring basis.
Consider rethinking your relationship with alcohol if any of those things sound familiar to you. This doesn’t mean you need to quit drinking entirely- you can choose moderation rather than alcohol abuse and abstinence. As long as you are able to find the right middle ground, you will be able to enjoy your favorite drinks without putting your health, safety, or well-being at risk.
Binge drinking and its effects
You might have more motivation to cut back on your drinking if you are aware of the risks associated with binge drinking.
Genes, alcohol consumption, binge drinking frequency, and preexisting health conditions, such as heart disease, can altogether determine the effects it will have on your health. Binge drinking can, however, have varied and far-reaching effects on your mental and physical health, including:
Overdose or poisoning caused by alcohol
Basically, this happens when alcohol levels in your bloodstream are so high that they pose a life-threatening danger. You can reduce your body temperature, breathing rate, and heart rate by drinking too much within a short amount of time. A person can suffer from seizures, lose consciousness, or even die.
Chronic physical ailments
High blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke are all conditions linked to excessive drinking. Additionally, binge drinkers may suffer from digestive problems and liver disease.
The easy accessibility of alcoholic beverages may make you overlook the fact that they have lots of calories. A 12-ounce beer contains 150 calories, so if you drink five, you have added 750 calories, which can speed up your weight gain.
As well as damaging body tissue, alcohol prevents the body from absorbing nutrients and breaking down harmful chemicals. As a result, you may be more likely to develop cancers of the esophagus, mouth, throat, breast, liver, or colon.
FASDs (Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders)
Binge drinking during pregnancy can have a severely negative impact on the child’s cognitive and physical development. FASD children may suffer from heart or bone problems, learning disabilities, and reduced attention spans and memories. Sudden infant death syndrome is also associated with alcohol consumption, according to research.
Studies show binge drinking can interfere with working memory, which is what you need to stay focused and store short-term information. Excessive drinking can also result in alcohol-induced blackouts, a condition where your brain is unable to store information reliably because it fails to move memories from short-term to long-term storage, causing fragmented memory.
In many cases, binge drinkers have difficulty controlling their impulses, resulting in reckless or dangerous behavior.
Teens and young adults who binge drink may experience difficulties learning and concentrating due to brain structure changes associated with alcohol abuse.
Problems associated with mental health
Depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders may be exacerbated or caused by alcohol abuse. When you’re intoxicated and even after you sober up, you might experience adverse effects on your mood. Mood disorders and alcohol abuse can even lead to dangerous cycles. Depression might lead you to binge drink. Following that, you will experience sleep disruptions as a result of your drinking. As a result of not getting enough sleep, your depression worsens, and so you turn to alcohol again to cope.
Risky behavior and binge drinking
Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to risky behavior due to impaired judgment and inhibitions.
- Driving under the influence or being involved in a car accident.
- A fall, a burn, or any other accident-related injury.
- Assaults, homicides, and suicides, as well as sexual violence.
- Unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Binge drinking symptoms and signs
We all enjoy a drink every now and then, but binge drinking can result in legal intoxication if you consume five or more drinks in two hours if you are a man or four or more if you are a woman. You should reconsider your drinking habits if your binge drinking is causing unwanted consequences in your life, even if you’re drinking less than this in one session.
The frequency of binge drinking varies from one binge drinker to another. Alcohol abstinence is a key characteristic of binge drinking between sessions of excessive consumption. You might think that your drinking isn’t harmful because you don’t consume alcohol every day, and you aren’t physically dependent on it. Nevertheless, binge drinking can have severe consequences, as can any use of alcohol in an unhealthy manner.
You may be suffering from binge drinking if you exhibit the following symptoms:
There are times when you drink more than you intended
One or two beers might be on your agenda to begin the night. Then, your pace and time slip away. Several hours later, you’re intoxicated beyond your comfort level.
Once you start drinking, it’s hard to stop
You may often get caught up in the euphoria of intoxication. To maintain that high, you feel the need to keep drinking.
Blackouts are common for you
If you have fragmented memories or forget what happened the previous night, you may feel uneasy or fearful for your health.
Feeling guilty or ashamed about your drinking habits
By the end of the night, you might feel sick and regret your actions. You might begin a party in an upbeat and energetic mood, but afterward, you might feel sick and regret your actions. The same mistakes seem to happen to you time and time again.
When you drink, your mental health problems get worse
You might find it easier to relax in the evening if you have a few mixed drinks. In the morning, however, you notice that the depressive symptoms or anxious thoughts you normally experience have gotten worse.
Escalation In Reckless Behavior
If you drive drunk or go home with a stranger, you may not think about the risks involved.
An analysis of the relationship between binge drinking and alcohol abuse
The percentage of people who struggle with alcohol dependence is only about 10 percent among binge drinkers. If you binge drink frequently, you are more likely to develop an alcohol abuse problem.
Alcohol addiction can develop gradually from binge drinking. Having a tolerance for alcohol may lead to drinking more and more in order to achieve the same effects. There may be fewer days you abstain between sessions as you begin binge drinking more frequently.
Your work, school, or social life can be negatively affected as you prioritize your alcohol use. If you try reducing your alcohol consumption, you may notice headaches, fatigue, anxiety, or irritability the next day.
Until you take serious steps to address your drinking problem, alcohol abuse continues to take up more of your time and energy.
The spiral from binge drinking into alcohol addiction can be a gradual process. As you build a tolerance to alcohol, you may find that you need to drink more and more to feel the same effects. You may begin to binge drink more often, the days you abstain between sessions becoming fewer.
As you start to prioritize your alcohol use, it can have a negative effect on your work, school, or social life. You might try cutting back on your drinking but find that you suffer headaches, fatigue, anxiety, or irritability on the days when you don’t drink.
Alcohol use continues to take up more of your time and energy, impacting your physical and mental health until you need to take serious steps to address your drinking problem.
Factors Leading to Binge Drinking
In order to change your drinking problem, you need to understand what drives your behavior. All ages have different motivations, but some factors remain the same regardless of their age.
People often binge drink to relieve anxiety, depression, and stress. The practice may be used as a means of relaxing after a stressful day at work or to relieve stress after a college exam. Most people assume a drink can help them get through difficult times in their lives. The loss of a loved one or the end of a romantic relationship is two examples of situations in which many people drink. The problem with alcohol, however, is that it is a depressant, so you will end up feeling worse.
- Loneliness or boredom
It is common for people to turn to alcohol and other drugs when they feel isolated or lack direction and purpose. It might be tempting to slump on your couch, drink, and watch TV just to pass the time.
- Lack Of Understanding Of Alcohol Tolerance
Teenagers and young adults who don’t know their limits can easily go over their limits when drinking alcohol. Overestimating one’s tolerance is a common problem for older adults also.
- Anxiety Over Social Situations
When you drink alcohol, your inhibitions are lowered, and you feel more relaxed. The initial effect of alcohol encourages people to use it as a coping mechanism for social anxiety. When you binge drink, you might feel more confident about speaking, flirting, or making jokes to strangers.
- Influence of Peers
Young adults are notorious for encouraging each other to overdo it when it comes to drinking, mixing drinks, or even taking shots. When you’re out with friends, it can be difficult to resist the temptation to take one more drink. Friends don’t necessarily encourage you to drink more by shouting encouragement at you. To fit in with the crowd or impress someone, you might convince yourself that you must drink. The situation can be especially problematic for teens who wish to appear older or more mature through drinking.
The Impact Of Your Personality On Your Drinking Habits
You may be more likely to binge drink if you have certain personality traits. Those with high impulsive tendencies may reach for another drink quickly without considering the consequences. Risky drinking habits may also be more appealing to someone who enjoys novel sensations and situations.
It is possible to take control of your drinking habits, regardless of your personality.
The Best Way to Manage Your Alcohol Consumption
The problem with binge drinking is that when you do start drinking, you may have a hard time stopping after just a few drinks. You can always cut out alcohol completely from your life. The alternative is to drink more responsibly if you don’t want to make that big of a change.
- Limits should be set in stone.
You can, for instance, resolve to limit your drinking to one or two drinks on your outing with friends. Keep track of your limit by writing it down, installing an app on your phone, or telling a friend what you intend to do. You might have a hard time stopping once you drink past your set limit since alcohol lowers inhibitions and impairs judgment.
- Stay hydrated.
Follow every alcoholic beverage with a non-alcoholic one, whether you set a hard limit or not. As a result, you will be able to pace yourself better and slow down.
What is the effect of drinking water on reducing hangovers?
Dehydration isn’t the only cause of hangovers. In other words, drinking more water will not necessarily prevent you from having a hangover the next day. A hangover can only be reduced or avoided by drinking less alcohol.
- Drink small amounts at a time.
Make it a habit to slowly sip your alcohol in addition to taking water breaks. Be more mindful when drinking. Take the time to savor your beer or mixed drink instead of chugging it down. Choosing drinks with a low alcohol content will help you moderate your pace if you have trouble slowing down.
- Make sure you eat before drinking.
It may be less likely for you to drink as much on a full stomach than on an empty one.
- Alcohol shouldn’t be kept in your home.
Your kitchen should not be used to store beer, liquor, or wine. The convenience might seem appealing when you have guests over, but when you are alone, it is much easier to reach for multiple drinks. In the event that you decide to store alcohol at home, place it in the back of the fridge or the basement, where it won’t be seen by anyone.
- Become adept at resisting peer pressure.
Say no politely but firmly if someone tries to coerce you into drinking another beer. Simply saying “No, thank you” is all it takes. To give a more concrete explanation, you could say you need to be up early tomorrow morning. After that, you can simply change the subject.
It is possible that you will continue to feel pressured to drink by the people around you. You might be worried that if you don’t drink more, they’ll think less of you. You can be confident that those who genuinely care about you will accept your decision. Those who tend to binge drink as well as those who pressure you should be avoided.
Having a non-alcoholic drink might help you fit in if you don’t feel pressured. You might feel more relaxed if you sip on a drink. You can also use this strategy if you’re playing drinking games with friends.
- Improve your social anxiety management skills.
In social situations, if you typically drink to maintain your nerves, consider these healthier alternatives:
Maintain a slow, steady breathing pattern.
Take four deep breaths, holding them for two seconds and exhaling for six seconds. You will be able to reduce stress as a result of this activation of your parasympathetic nervous system. Feelings of anxiety should subside, your heart rate should slow, and muscle tension should disappear.
You should direct your attention outwards.
Don’t focus on your internal feelings, what people think, or how you feel. Instead, observe what’s going on around you. What are your friends talking about? What are they communicating with their body language? Is there anything interesting to see or hear in the room?
Identify and challenge negative inner monologues.
When you’re having trouble switching your focus from internal to external, take a look at how you talk to yourself internally. Do you expect others to judge you? Did you make a mistake earlier that you are beating yourself up about? Take a closer look at your worries and challenge them with more realistic ones. How do you know if you’re being judged? Are there any repercussions? Other people tend to be far less concerned about you than you think.
Helping Someone Who Binge Drinks
You may feel heartbroken and helpless when you see a friend or family member suffer from a binge drinking habit. As they behave recklessly, suffer painful hangovers, and experience shame and depression afterward, you will be there to witness their most embarrassing moments.
Your relationship might even be affected by their volatile behavior and emotions. It is possible that your loved one regularly drinks and drives or that they say insensitive things when they are intoxicated.
It may be difficult to convince a loved one to change their binge drinking habits, but offering the right kind of support and expressing your concerns can be helpful.
Binge Drinking and How To Talk About It
- You need to pick the right moment
You shouldn’t discuss the subject while they are already drunk or hungover.
When someone is intoxicated, they may overreact, misunderstand, or forget details from the conversation. You should both wait until you are able to talk clearly, unhurriedly, and uninterruptedly.
- Maintain a respectful but honest attitude
Avoid taking a judgmental tone or shaming them. Explain why you are worried about their binge drinking. Consider pointing out the negative effects it has on their mood or physical well-being. Then you could tell them how it has affected your relationship. Preaching, threatening, or punishing them is not the goal. Make sure they know you care for them by showing them your concern.
- Be prepared for pushback
In response to criticism about unhealthy drinking habits, people often become defensive. It’s possible that your loved one will deny the problem, deflect the issue, or get angry with you. Reassure yourself that by speaking up you are expressing your compassion and concern. It may take your loved one much longer to stop abusing alcohol if you don’t speak up now.
- Don’t give up, but recognize your limitations
In the event that your loved one is initially denying their binge drinking problem, what should you do? It might be a good idea to let them reflect on what you said for a few days. After a while, you could revisit the conversation if they continue exhibiting unhealthy behaviors.
It is important to keep in mind that you cannot control the behavior of others. It isn’t your fault that they have unhealthy habits, either.
How To Deal With A Binge Drinking Teen
Although you have no control over how other adults handle alcohol, if your teen binges, you will want to intervene. The effects of alcohol use on the developing brain and body can last a lifetime. Also, teens who drink tend to perform worse in school, try other risky or illegal substances, and are at great risk of alcohol poisoning.
You will need to be willing to converse with an underage drinker in a nonjudgmental way if you want to encourage them to quit drinking. You should be able to explain the importance of seeking help and undergoing treatment in a young adult rehab. There are also legal consequences associated with underage drinking, so rules and consequences need to be established.
Creating a supportive environment
Several steps can be taken to support your loved one when they are ready to make a change.
- Prepare a written plan and discuss it with them
Some people decide to limit the number of drinks they consume per week to three or stick to one drink per occasion. Remind them of their personal limit when you’re drinking together. However, you do not have the responsibility of enforcing this limit.
- Set a good example
Avoid excessive drinking. If you’ve had enough drinking, you may even want to announce it. You could help your loved one remember their limit by saying, “Well, that’s my one drink for tonight.”.
- Increase their responsibilities
It may be necessary to give your loved one reasons for practicing self-control in social situations where drinking is encouraged. You and your spouse can, for instance, determine in advance that your spouse will be the designated driver for a party.
- Explore non-drinking interests with them
Work on a crafting project or take your loved one to a movie instead of inviting them out to a bar. You should be cautious about going to events or activities that may involve alcohol, such as trivia nights or sports games. Put those activities on the back burner in favor of your other interests.
- Provide support during stressful times
You can help your loved one cope with negative emotions during times of stress, hardship, or loss. Be there to listen and assure them that things will turn around if they are going through a breakup or job loss, for instance. Offer alternatives to “drowning their sorrows” in a bar, such as taking a hike together or visiting a roadside attraction.
Remember, you are not your loved one’s therapist, no matter how you support their attempts to stop binge drinking. In addition, you cannot constantly keep an eye on their decisions. The most you can do is help them remember commitments they made and give them little nudges in the right direction.
Moderate or social drinking can often be difficult to differentiate from problematic alcohol consumption. Due to its prevalence in many countries and its effects varying so widely from person to person, it can be difficult to determine when alcohol consumption can be considered a problem. You are in a potentially dangerous position if you use alcohol as a coping mechanism. It is of utmost importance to recognize the signs and symptoms of alcohol misuse and to treat alcoholism and alcohol abuse.