Binge drinking, as defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), is when men consume 5 or more drinks and women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours. It brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level to 0.08 g/dL or above.
Numerous studies have proven the havoc that binge drinking can cause, including unruly fights, accidental deaths, major accidents, and mental and physical instability. Apart from the individual financial losses, the country also suffers losses from reduced productivity at workplace, health care expenditures, criminal justice costs, and other expenses.
Binge drinking is a major, yet poorly understood public health problem. It is understood as a condition in which an individual consumes more alcohol than the permissible limit. After consuming 2 glasses of wine, the neurochemical processes activate the brain cells to release dopamine that produces feelings of happiness. Alcohol’s pleasure rendering effects produce powerful motivation to binge drink again and again.
A host of injuries…and death
Just as compelling are the dangers binge drinking poses to the central nervous system (CNS). Large amounts of alcohol ingested over a short period of time slows breathing and heart rate. Binge drinking interferes with the normal operation of the gag reflex – the body’s defense against choking on vomit.
Individuals who pass out due to excessive alcohol consumption are at a greater risk of choking on their own vomit because their gag reflex instinct is disordered. Even if a person has not vomited prior to passing out, because blood alcohol levels can continue to rise while a person is unconscious, they run the risk of vomiting. There have been a number of high-profile cases of individuals choking to death on their own vomit, notably the rock drummers John Bonham of Led Zeppelin and Keith Moon of the Who.
Why is binge drinking a major concern?
Here are some numbers on binge drinking as cited by the CDC:
- 1 in 6 U.S. adults binge drink about 4 times a month, consuming about 7 drinks per binge.
- Approximately 92 percent of U.S. adults who drink excessively report binge drinking in the past 30 days.
- Binge drinking is the most common among younger adults aged between 18 to 34 years.
- The prevalence of binge drinking among men is twice as that in women.
- About 90 percent of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the U.S. is in the form of binge drinking.
The CDC maintains statistics on binge drinking culled from national surveys. These include:
- Binge drinking is more popular with adults aged between 18 to 34 but binge drinkers 65 years and older partake alcohol more often, that is, at an average of 5 to 6 times a month.
- Binge drinking is the purview of the affluent—it is more likely to occur in households with incomes of $75,000 or more.
- More than half of the alcohol consumed by adults in the U.S. is in the form of binge drinking.
- More than 50 percent of the binge drinks are consumed by binge drinkers aged 35 years and above.
People who should not indulge in any form of drinking
It is important for people to understand that such drinking habits are not only costing dear to the U.S. economy but also ruining the lives of people. Each binge drink costs the U.S economy more than $2. Though it is always advisable not to drink at all, there are certain groups that should NOT indulge in any form of drinking. These include:
- People younger than 21 years.
- Women who are pregnant, might be pregnant or planning to be pregnant.
- Individuals who are driving, planning to drive, or participating in other activities requiring skill, coordination, and alertness.
- People who are taking certain prescription or over-the-counter medications that can interact with alcohol.
- Patients suffering from certain medical conditions.
- People recovering from alcoholism.
- Individuals unable to control the amount they drink.
Way to a non-alcoholic future
Alcohol, in any form, can be a potential health hazard. It can cause both physical and mental illness and can create both personal and professional instability. It is important to minimize indulgence in alcohol and refrain from situations, which transform casual drinking into a habit. There is nothing like moderate drinking, therefore, the most preferred way is to not indulge at all.
If you or someone you know is addicted to alcohol and is looking for a rehab detox center for alcohol abuse, get in touch with California Detox Helpline. Call our 24/7 helpline 855–780–2495 or chat online with one of our experts to know more about our research-backed, customized alcohol addiction treatment programs. You can also chat online with a representative for further information on California recovery centers.