Binge drinking is when a person drinks heavily in one sitting or drinks continuously over several days or longer. Heavy drinking is defined as having four or more drinks in two hours if the drinker is a woman or consuming five or more drinks in two hours if the drinker is a man. In situations like these, the drinker consumes alcohol with the purpose of getting drunk. While a binge drinker may be someone who engages in this behavior frequently, it could also be someone who generally has a moderate drinking habit but occasionally overindulges to an extreme level, and this overindulgence can lead to an alcohol rehab facility if not taken care of in the beginning.
These types of binge drinkers may not set out with the goal of getting drunk but may be unsure of their alcohol tolerance, resulting in drinking too much in a short time period. They may also feel pressured to drink more because others around them are indulging in large quantities of alcohol. They wish to be accepted into the social group and so do the same as the others to avoid feeling awkward.
While binge drinking is often associated with college students, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 70% of the episodes of binge drinking occur amongst those 25 years of age or older. However, those who are most likely to engage in binge drinking are males in the 18-year-old to 20-year-old crowd. This is especially alarming considering the legal drinking age in the United States is 21 years of age.
Effects on Health
Binge drinking has several short-term and long-term effects on health. Short-term effects include injury to self and others, such as car crashes, falling, drowning, or burns; alcohol poisoning; sexually transmitted diseases, and unintended pregnancies. Long-term effects of binge drinking include sexual dysfunction, irreparable damage to the pancreas and liver, brain damage, and death. These effects do not even cover the enormous range of behavioral and emotional problems that arise as a result of engaging in binge drinking. Binge drinking can have devastating effects on a person’s relationship with their family, friends, and co-workers. Family ties can be severed, and jobs can be lost due to binge drinking.
Tips to Control Binge Drinking
To avoid binge drinking, you must know your limits. Do not exceed three drinks in a two-hour period if you are a woman or four drinks in a two-hour period if you are a man. If you know you will be at a social gathering or a bar for longer than two hours, alternate your alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks to avoid going over your limit. Additionally, drink slowly or order a low alcohol alternative, such as a wine spritzer, rather than a mixed drink. Avoid engaging in drinking games or ordering or accepting another drink while you are still consuming one. Keep engaged in the conversation or activity at hand rather than sitting and drinking. Above all, be assertive. Do not be pressured into consuming more alcohol than you set out to. Know your limits and stick to them.