Binge drinking is the most common pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States. It means drinking solely to get drunk. And according to The National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, 40% of U.S. college-aged students engaged in binge drinking in the past 2 weeks.
For these students and other binge drinkers, getting drunk is usually their main goal in consuming alcohol. For males, binge drinking means having five or more drinks in less than 2 hours. For females, four or more drinks in a row will do it. In both genders, this amount of drinking will produce blood alcohol levels well above the legal limit of 0.08%.
What are the short-term effects of binge drinking?
While most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent, this level of intoxication will create several dangers, including dizziness, loss of coordination, diarrhea, vomiting, lack of judgment, or even alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal. Binge drinking can also lead to:
- Unintentional injuries (e.g., car crashes, falls, burns, drowning)
- Intentional injuries (e.g., homicide, suicide, firearm injuries, sexual assault, domestic violence)
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Unintended pregnancy
- High blood pressure, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases
- Liver disease
- Neurological damage
- Sexual dysfunction
- Poor control of diabetes.
What are the long-term effects of binge drinking?
When college students engaging in binge drinking, they’re still at a vulnerable stage of brain development, so they’re at a greater risk for the toxicities and consequences of drinking. Binge drinking in your late teens and early 20s can lead to even more serious alcohol abuse.
1) Alcohol use disorder – a pattern of drinking that may cause some of the following problems:
- Failure to follow through on major work, school, or home responsibilities.
- Drinking in situations that are physically dangerous, such as driving a car or operating machinery.
- Continued drinking despite it causing ongoing relationship problems.
- Loss of control.
2) Alcoholism – a severe alcohol use disorder, a disease often marked by:
- Craving – a strong need to drink.
- Loss of control – the inability to stop or control drinking.
- Tolerance –the need to drink more alcohol to get high.
- Diminished recognition of the consequences of continued drinking.
Drinking in your youth can lead to lifelong problems. If you are concerned about your own alcohol use or that of someone you love, call the professionals at Horizon Health Services with any questions — (716) 831-1800. We’d be happy to offer confidential help.
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