Binge Drinking Effects You Should Know
Binge drinking is nothing new. It has been a favorite pastime of teens and young adults for years. Unfortunately, some people carry these habits on into their adulthood. Some people may feel like bingeing on alcohol is the same as bingeing on anything else, like food or TV. The reality is that bingeing on alcohol is much worse. The effects of binge drinking are serious and you need to know what they are before it’s too late.
What is Bingeing?
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse has defined bingeing as a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings the blood alcohol levels to 0.08 percent. So in layman’s terms, that’s approximately four drinks in two hours or less. It is typical that this heavy use is followed by a period of abstinence. It is the sudden spike of alcohol in the bloodstream caused by bingeing that causes this type of consumption to be high risk for alcoholism. Alcohol addiction occurs when the body and brain are so used to the chemical additive of alcohol that they are not able to function normally without it. When this happens, the only way to stop the chemical dependency is to endure detox – a painful, dangerous, expensive and graceless process requiring the help of a medical facility.
So, while the party you’re attending may seem like a perfectly appropriate time to ‘throw back a few,’ it is each individual’s responsibility to ask themselves: How many have I had? How much time has passed? Do I need more right now, or can I wait?
Effects of Bingeing Alcohol
Some effects of bingeing are pretty obvious. There’s the bloat, weight gain, hangover, and a night of blurred memories and less than stellar decisions to account for. There are some effects that are less considered and more serious. A risky drinker indulging in a night of bingeing may be unknowingly signing up for these consequences:
- Sexually Transmitted Disease
- Unintended Pregnancies
- Sexual Assault
- Academic Consequences
- Social Implications
- High blood pressure
- Liver disease
- Neurological Damage
- Children born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Looking at this list, it may seem a little severe. After all, having a few with friends after a hard day is commonplace, acceptable, and ‘normal’ for some. Ignoring red flags like failing grades, degraded relationships with loved ones, illnesses, injuries, or embarrassment is easy to do in the moment when someone you love or admire hands you a cold one and asks you to join them.
In the moment, it seems like the only thing you’re signing up for is a good time. But remember that alcohol consumption, like all consumption, requires moderation; moderation that comes easier for some than others depending on lifestyle, age, and genetic predisposition to alcoholism, but is available to anyone who makes the effort.
Changing habits and patterns of thought requires conscious effort. The effort to remember to pause and ask yourself: Is this where I want to be when I let down my guard? Are these the people I want to be around when my judgement is impaired? Is it possible I can have a good time tonight spacing my drinks out a little, instead of bingeing them all at once? Have I had enough yet? It may seem like in the grand scheme these little moments don’t matter but look over the list above again. Some of these risks are very permanent problems brought on by a very temporary solution.
How Do You Stop Bingeing?
This is a complex and individualized question that requires complex and individualized answers. But regardless of where you are now, or where you started, the beginning of this process is to know yourself. What kind of relationship do you have with alcohol and why? Do you drink to party? Do you drink to forget? Do you crave the alcohol? Are you an addict?
If you have found that you use alcohol to escape your stress or your daily life, it is important to acknowledge and accept that there is no true escape from life’s hurdles. However, if you find yourself needing help navigating there are resources like coaches and therapies that can help you find a real solution that you can rely on, that doesn’t shorten your life span. A solution that will make you happy regardless of blood alcohol levels. A solution you can take pride in.