Alcohol is one of the most commonly abused substances in the U.S. It is the leading cause of domestic violence situations, violent crime, traumatic injury, and motor vehicle accidents and deaths. Every year, alcohol abuse causes the U.S. economy to lose more than 249 billion dollars in lost productivity and other costs. Alcohol abuse is a severe issue in the U.S., and binge drinking is one of the most intense, and potentially fatal ways a person can abuse alcohol. The following article will cover the prevalence of binge drinking, and the signs and symptoms that someone has a binge drinking problem.
What is binge drinking?
Binge drinking is an excessive pattern of alcohol abuse. Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking habits that bring a person’s BAC to .08 or above in a short period of time. For men, this typically happens when they consume 5 or more drinks in one sitting. For women, it is defined as 4 or more drinks in 2 hours. Most of the time, people who engage in binge drinking are not alcohol dependent.
Who is most likely to engage in binge drinking behaviors?
Overall, one in six U.S. adults will binge drink on average four times per month and will consume seven beverages in a binge drinking session.
- Young adults between 18 and 34 are the most likely to engage in risky binge drinking behaviors.
- Binge drinking is more common among men than women.
- People who have higher levels of education, and who earn on average $75,000 per year or more are more likely to binge drink than lower socio-economic classes.
- Lower income individuals who engage in binge drinking will usually consume more alcohol than their higher-earning peers.
- 90% of adults who binge drink will do it at least once per month.
- People who are younger than 21 often consume 7 or more drinks during a binge drinking episode.
What are the risks associated with binge drinking habits?
While most people who binge drink do not suffer from alcohol dependence, binge drinking can lead to an increased risk of developing a tolerance for alcohol. Thus, a habit of binge drinking can cause someone to develop an alcohol addiction. Binge drinking is also associated with traumatic injuries from car wrecks, falls, burns, and alcohol poisoning. Binge drinking also increases rates of intimate partner violence, homicide, and sexual assault. Up to half of all suicides with a firearm involve alcohol abuse and binge drinking.
Binge drinking severely impairs a person’s judgment and lowers their inhibitions. Dangerous drinking habits lead to an increase in STIs, unintended pregnancy, and poor pregnancy outcomes such as stillbirths, fetal alcohol syndrome, and miscarriages. Mothers who engage in binge drinking also increase their infant’s risk of dying from SIDs.
The health consequences of binge drinking and long-term alcohol abuse are well documented. Alcoholics and binge drinkers are at increased risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, cancer, and liver diseases. Alcohol abuse also increases the risk of contracting mouth, throat, esophageal, liver, colon, and breast cancers. Alcohol abuse can also cause memory impairment and learning problems.
How much does binge drinking cost the economy and society per year?
The U.S. economy loses billions of dollars a year because of binge drinking and alcohol abuse. Costs are associated with decreased workplace productivity, health care expenditures, and criminal justice system burdens. According to recent statistics, 10% of U.S. children have at least one parent who struggles with alcohol-related issues.
What are the signs and symptoms that someone is binge drinking?
Having a hard time stopping after one or two drinks.
People who engage in excessive drinking may maintain sobriety during the week, but once the weekend hits, they might have one drink, and then another. Binge drinkers tend to have a hard time limiting themselves to just one or two drinks during social occasions especially.
Using alcohol as a reward or incentive for working hard during the week.
Binge drinkers tend to use alcohol as a special treat during the weekends or other social gatherings as a reward for working hard during the week.
Feeling guilty about drinking too much.
People who struggle with binge drinking may find themselves experiencing a ‘moral hangover’ where they feel embarrassed about how much they had to drink.
Making choices that are much different from what you’d do when sober.
Excessive alcohol use impairs a person’s judgment, and they may make choices that they usually would find appalling when sober. People may think they are okay to drive or engage in risky sexual behavior when binge drinking.
Getting into fights or other altercations when drinking.
Binge drinking is a common cause of fights and other negative confrontations. If your drinking is causing you to lash out, it’s becoming a problem.
If someone is unable to curb their binge drinking or they start to experience signs of alcohol dependence, they need treatment. Without it, binge drinking can turn into full-blown alcohol addiction and also lead to dangerous levels of alcohol poisoning and death.
The facilities at Mission Harbor are staffed with trained experts to best assist patients with their mental health issues. We are capable of dealing with any and all cases with a licensed staff, equipment, and approved techniques. Our mission is to help those who want to help themselves, and we support your decision in seeking help.
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