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.
Health Effects and Other Potential Consequences of Binge Drinking
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
- Killing someone
- Involvement with the police
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.