9 Effects of Binge Drinking (With Consequences Most Discussed in 2024)

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking means drinking alcohol that brings your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08% or higher. For an average adult, this corresponds to consuming 4 or more drinks within 2 hours.

It is estimated that 1 in 6 adults in the US binge drink about four times a month, having an average of seven drinks per binge. The recent pandemic has  contributed to this issue; many people – who occasionally drank before the pandemic – have reported binge drinking more frequently due to stress and boredom related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

9 Effects of Binge Drinking

Health Effects and Other Potential Consequences of Binge Drinking

Drinking any amount of alcohol can carry certain risks, and crossing into the “binge” level increases the risk of acute harm, such as overdoses and blackouts.

Some effects of binge drinking can include the increased possibility of accidents, arguments, unsafe sexual behavior and assault, as well as a variety of more dangerous consequences, like DWIs, car crashes, drowning, and serious personal injury.

Research shows that alcohol impacts virtually all tissues in the body. Even a single session of binge drinking can end up compromising the function of the immune system and cause inflammation of the pancreas in individuals who are suffering from underlying pancreatic damage.

Repeated episodes of binge drinking over time are known to increase the risk of several types of cancer (including colorectal, breast, esophageal), plus liver disease and other chronic diseases. Research also indicates that frequently binge drinking during the teen years can change the way the brain develops and impede memory, attention, social, and other cognitive functions.

It is noteworthy that binge drinking is not the same for everyone. For example, compared with adults, teenagers tend to drink more per occasion, however, they drink less frequently. Adults, on the other hand, drink more frequently, but the quantity they consume is comparatively less.

This drinking pattern in teens is also known as “high-intensity” drinking. It is defined as drinking at levels twice or more the threshold for binge drinking (which is 4 or more drinks for women and 5 or more drinks for men). Research shows that high-intensity drinking is most common in young adults attending college.

Effects of binge drinking sometimes translate into accidental injuries. People who frequently go on drinking binges have a greater risk of: 

  • Unsafe sex
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol 
  • Inflammation of the spinal cord, brain, pancreas, or stomach
  • Heart attack
  • High blood pressure
  • Suicide
  • Killing someone
  • Involvement with the police

Consequences of Alcohol Abuse: The Most Discussed Issues in 2024

In an update to our long-standing list, we performed a survey of what people are inquiring and talking about the most in 2024 in terms of the consequences of alcohol abuse.

  1. Alcohol poisoning: Binge drinking can lead to alcohol poisoning, a life-threatening condition that occurs when a person consumes a large amount of alcohol in a short period. Symptoms include confusion, vomiting, seizures, slow or irregular breathing, blue-tinged skin, and unconsciousness.
  2. Mental health issues: Binge drinking can exacerbate existing mental health problems and contribute to the development of new ones, such as depression and anxiety. Alcohol is often used as a coping mechanism, but it can worsen feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and isolation.
  3. Cognitive impairment: Binge drinking can cause short-term and long-term cognitive impairment, affecting memory, attention, decision-making, and problem-solving skills. This can lead to poor academic or work performance and increase the risk of accidents and injuries.
  4. Social and relationship problems: Binge drinking can strain relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners. It can lead to arguments, violence, and a breakdown in communication and trust.
  5. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD): Pregnant women who binge drink put their unborn child at risk of developing FASD, a group of conditions that can cause physical, behavioral, and learning problems.
  6. Economic consequences: Binge drinking can lead to increased healthcare costs, lost productivity, and legal expenses related to accidents, injuries, and criminal behavior.
  7. Tolerance and dependence: Repeated binge drinking can lead to increased alcohol tolerance, which means that a person needs to drink more to achieve the same effects. This can lead to alcohol dependence and addiction, which can be difficult to overcome without professional help.

How CheckUp & Choices Can Help

Don’t let the effects of binge drinking cause damage to your life. If you suspect that your drinking habits need a careful evaluation, CheckUp & Choices can help. It is a self-guided wellness program that can help you receive honest, confidential feedback about your drinking and determine whether it is an issue you’d like to change.

You can take this absolutely free to get started. After the quiz, if you feel you need a more detailed evaluation, sign up for this comprehensive CheckUp which takes about 30–40 minutes and does a deep-dive into your drinking habits. Not sure where to start? Our friendly team will be happy to help – just fill out this contact form and we will get back to you.