Binge drinking is an epidemic that has become increasingly popular in the United States, especially on college campuses. Unfortunately, studies have shown that even one bout of binge drinking can have serious effects on a person’s health. Binge drinking on a regular basis can be dangerous and result in a number of long-term and short-term effects.
Struggling with alcohol abuse or addiction – which can often result in regular binge drinking – is difficult to cope with and overcome on one’s own. Luckily, Vertava Health offers a number of programs to help individuals get and stay sober and reclaim their lives and health.
What Is Binge Drinking?
Binge drinking is when a person consumes a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time. Drinking in large quantities over several days may also be considered binge drinking. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), binge drinking is characterized by a person elevating his or her blood alcohol concentration above the legal amount, which is 0.08 percent.
For women, binge drinking is considered as having four or more drinks in a two-hour span. For men, five or more drinks within two hours is considered binge drinking. However, studies have shown that many people drink an average of seven or more drinks when participating in binge drinking.
The Statistics On Binge Drinking
Binge drinking is an incredibly common part of the culture in the United States. As such, many people participate in or have participated in binge drinking at some point in their lives. In fact, an estimated 75 percent of all alcohol consumed in the U.S. is done so in the form of binge drinking.
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Additional statistics on the prevalence of binge drinking in the U.S. include:
- An estimated 90 percent of alcohol consumed by people 21 and younger is in the form of binge drinking
- An estimated one in 10 American adults ages 55 to 64 have participated in binge drinking in the last month
- In 2014, nearly 25 percent of all adults ages 18 and older participated in binge drinking in the last month
- In 2015, one in six adults admitted to binge drinking with an average of one episode of binge drinking a week
- Binge drinking is most common among individuals who are between the ages of 18 and 34
- Individuals younger than 21 who report drinking admit that most of the alcohol they consume is done in the form of binge drinking
- Binge drinking is twice as common in men as in women, with four out of five binge drinks consumed being drunk by men
These statistics are incredibly alarming, as binge drinking is one of the most deadly patterns of drinking in the nation. And, unfortunately, the next-day hangover is the least of the worries associated with binge drinking.
Short-Term Effects Of Binge Drinking
Binge drinking can have a number of dangerous and even deadly short-term effects. This is true for both individuals who regularly participate in binge drinking and for those who binge drink only once or twice. In fact, an estimated half of all alcohol-related deaths are due to “acute” intoxication, or intoxication that happens in a short period of time.
A few of the many short-term effects of binge drinking include:
- acute inflammation of the liver, stomach, and pancreas
- high blood pressure
- irregular heartbeat
- sudden death due to heart failure
- low levels of electrolytes like sodium and potassium
- inhibition of the gag reflex, which can result in infection and inflammation in the lungs
- increased risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- dangerously low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia)
- increased risk of injury or death
Additionally, binge drinking can result in alcohol poisoning, which can be deadly if not treated properly and immediately. Depression of the gag reflex can also result in death if someone has passed out and chokes on his or her vomit.
What’s more, binge drinking can also have effects that impact a person’s social and professional life as well. For example, a person who binge drinks may miss work or school due to a hangover or illness, which could eventually lead to poor performance and work- or school-related consequences.
Long-Term Effects Of Binge Drinking
In addition to short-term effects, binge drinking can have significant long-term effects as well. The more a person participates in binge drinking, the more likely he or she is to experience long-term damage.
Long-term effects of binge drinking may include:
- suppressed immune system, which can make it difficult to recover from illness or injury
- malnutrition as a result of the body’s inability to absorb vitamins and nutrients
- reduced fertility
- alcohol dependence and addiction
- mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression
- increased risk of stroke
- osteoporosis as a result of inadequate absorption of calcium
- chronic high blood pressure
- alcohol-related liver disease
- nerve damage
- increased risk of various types of cancer
What’s more, binge drinking can significantly increase a person’s risk of developing an alcohol use disorder. Alcohol addiction is a chronic condition that can negatively affect every aspect of a person’s life. Alcoholism is characterized by the inability to quit drinking or control drinking despite negative consequences.
Getting Help For Binge Drinking And Alcohol Use Disorder
Binge drinking can be a sign of an alcohol use disorder. If you or a loved one are struggling to manage your drinking habits or are unable to quit drinking, seeking treatment is the best way to reclaim your life from alcohol addiction. Vertava Health has several state-of-the-art treatment facilities throughout the nation, all of which offer personalized addiction programs.
To learn more about the short- and long-term effects of binge drinking, contact an Vertava Health’ treatment specialist today.