People may wrongly consider their drug use, if not constant, to not be severe. This is not the case, even if people go through periods of time where they are sober or abstain from using any drugs; the times when they do use them can yet be extremely harmful and dangerous. This harm increases for people whose drug behavior during these periods of use is that of binging.
Binge drug use is when a person consumes a large quantity of drugs in a relatively short time. Generally during a binge, the amount that they take increases during close intervals of use. This use can occur with many drugs, though some result in more severe repercussions.
Stages Of Binge Drug Use
Cocaine, crack cocaine, and methamphetamine are some of the most commonly used drugs during a binge, however, people can abuse other drugs in this way, including opiates, alcohol, prescription medications, etc. Here we outline the stages of binge drug use.
Using More And More
As a person desires the sense of euphoria that accompanies a certain drug and finds that after their first use that taking the same amount does not result in the sense of pleasure that the first use did, they begin to take more and more in hopes of replicating the initial feeling. Depending on the drug, this binge can take place over a matter of hours, or as long as several days.
During this time, their senses are impaired and they let their well-being fall to the wayside. They might forget and/or be unable to fulfill their responsibilities, including family, educational, or vocational roles. A person might forget to eat, drink fluids, sleep, or take care of their personal hygiene.
They might also not do the former three of these things due to the drug’s effects, as certain drugs suppress a person’s sense of needing these things. During a binge, they will feel a measure of discomfort at times, which may entail tremors, restlessness, irritability, hallucinations, itchy skin, a quickened heart rate, increased blood pressure, and even pain.
Becoming Out Of Sorts
Oftentimes, as a person has progressed through a binge to the point where their body and mind are so overwhelmed and overloaded by the drug, that their behavior and functioning will become severely and visibly impaired. At this point, the user finds that they’ve reached a plateau, and even though they continue to take more drugs, they begin to feel dysphoric. This is often called “tweaking.”
During this period of time, their speech may become erratic and incoherent. Their risk of overdose is also highest at this point, due to the large amount of drug already present within their system, paired with the risk of them taking more due to their impaired state.
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This is often the point at which a person may integrate another drug or even alcohol into the equation, due to their desire to either feel a new high or sense of pleasure or to temper or mask the increasingly uncomfortable state they are in. In the case of the latter, alcohol, marijuana, and heroin are three of the drugs most used for this purpose.
A person may also enter a state of psychosis, have hallucinations, become inordinately focused on a certain train of thought, concept, object, or body part. They may also injure themselves to the point of drawing blood by scratching so intensely that they break their skin.
At this point, a person’s level of functionality is drastically impaired. They may have little to no awareness of place, their state of mind, or of their body’s functioning. This puts them at greater risk for incurring physical or sexual abuse from other person. After a period of being high for so long, their body is fatigued, depleted, and begins to cave to the exhaustion.
The body is trying to turn itself off in order to replenish the stores of chemicals and neurotransmitters that were disrupted and depleted during their drug binge. The amount of time a person sleeps may exceed that of what is typical, with a person possibly sleeping days.
Due to the massive physical and mental toll that the binge took on a person, they will—despite the inordinate amount of sleep they may have gotten—awake feeling yet exhausted. They will also feel unbalanced and off and may experience symptoms of anxiety or depression. They will likely remember the energy and euphoria they experienced during the binge, and for some, this might drive them to binge again to replace the negative feelings that they are experiencing.
This is when the risk for developing an addiction increases, as the possibly of a vicious cycle looms. Other people will be so put off by the way they feel, that they might not use again, or let a period of time lapse before they use again. Regardless, they have suffered damage even from that time alone.
Risks Of Binge Drug Use
Binge drug use puts a user at greater risk of developing an addiction. The first time you use a drug, it damages you. If you only use it once, it damages you, and with many drugs, once is enough to result in great damage and even death. A small dose of a drug is damaging, so anytime you increase the amount and/or frequency, as within a binge, the risk skyrockets.
Drugs affect your judgement, decision making skills, and your perception of reality. Due to this, during a drug binge, several things occur. People have increased odds of engaging in situations and behaviors that can jeopardize their health and that of those around them. They might feel invincible and put themselves in dangerous situations, including operating a vehicle while under the influence, having unsafe sex, sharing needles, getting in fights, or going to great lengths to find and obtain a drug, like stealing valuables or money.
A large percentage of people may use more than one drug because their level of awareness and critical thinking is so impeded that they can’t reason out the risks and consequences. This multi-drug use increases their risk of critical side effects and dangers.
The risk of overdose is high during a binge because a person is taking so much so fast. For a person who is not a regular user, they are unfamiliar with the drug and do not have an awareness of their tolerance and might take an excess amount that can cause this.
Binge drug use makes a person irritable, irrational, paranoid, and aggressive. They are more apt to commit crimes or acts of violence during a drug binge.
During a binge, a person may experience:
- Nausea, abdominal discomfort
- A heart attack
- Respiratory failure
- Passing out
- Suffocation, choking, or asphyxia
An Example Of Binge Drug Use: Cocaine
Many cocaine users take the drug in binges. NIH (National Institutes of Health) reports that a cocaine binge “can lead to increased irritability, restlessness, panic attacks, paranoia, and even a full-blown psychosis, in which the individual loses touch with reality and experiences auditory hallucinations. With increasing doses or higher frequency of use, the risk of adverse psychological or physiological effects increases.”
NIDA (The National Institute on Drug Abuse) reported on research that was conducted on rats that may illustrated why binge drug use has the potential to increase the risk of addiction. Within the study, during a two-hour binge session, the rats were able to freely take as much cocaine as they wanted when when a specific cue was present (white noise). The rats were only cut off for a small period of time when the risk of overdose was present.
What researchers found was that after only a single binge, the rats had established drug-cue learning associated with the white noise—every three months after, the rats were exposed to the white noise and sought to obtain cocaine, and even though none was offered, they continued to react in this manner to the white noise for one year after.
In regards to this research, NIDA quoted Dr. Friedbert Weiss as saying “our observations demonstrate that it takes very little experience with cocaine to establish environmental associations that become powerful cues for cocaine relapse—and contribute to progression from initial sporadic drug use to addiction.”
Regardless of the drug, using a drug in large quantities, within a short period of time is very dangerous and threatens your health and your life.
Stop Before You Do Any More Damage
Binge drug use damages your mind and body. If you’re concerned that your drug use is getting out of control, please don’t hesitate any longer while this damage becomes even greater—reach out to us now. We can help you to understand your situation and make the most sense of the resources and choices that exist to help you today.