Binge drinking refers to consuming five or more – for men, or four or more – for women, alcoholic drinks within a time frame of two hours with the intention of becoming intoxicated. This amount of alcohol should bring a person’s BAC or blood alcohol concentration level to 0.80 g/dl or higher.
While binge drinking can put your safety and health at risk, according to the CDC, most people who engage in binge drinking do not have a severe alcohol disorder, and this behavioral pattern is not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
Having said that, there are some signs that your binge drinking is becoming a serious problem. If you tend to drink more than you had planned and you regularly have blackouts or if during episodes of binge drinking you engage in behaviors you later regret, you might want to consider talking to a psychotherapist or a counselor.
Some people binge drink whenever they’re experiencing uncomfortable feelings as a way to escape them, but this isn’t a healthy coping mechanism because it increases the likelihood of developing an addiction.
Although binge drinking covers all socioeconomic levels, statistics show that people with higher incomes tend to do it more frequently. If you have tried to stop binge drinking in the past but couldn’t, you can get professional help from facilities like a luxury Malibu rehab where you will also have access to psychotherapy, counseling, and support groups.
Short-Term Effects of Binge Drinking
Alcohol starts taking effect after about 5 to 10 minutes after it’s been ingested. Your liver will break down around 90% of it, and the rest will be eliminated through your kidneys, lungs, and sweat. The liver of an average-sized person can process one standard drink per hour. If you drink faster than that, your BAC (blood alcohol concentration) will rise. Other factors such as your age, sex, ethnicity, and whether or not you’ve eaten recently can also influence how quickly your BAC rises.
The biggest risk of binge drinking is getting hurt because of poor coordination, poor executive functioning, and poor judgment. This can lead to violence or accidents. Binge drinking also increases the likelihood of having unsafe sex, resulting in sexually transmitted infections or unplanned pregnancies.
In the short-term, binge drinking affects your heart, stomach, liver, and pancreas the most. It increases blood pressure and can cause irregular heartbeat so it’s especially dangerous for people who already have cardiovascular problems. Binge drinking also causes inflammation in the stomach, liver, and pancreas. It can result in low blood sugar, sodium, and potassium.
Long-Term Effects of Binge Drinking
There isn’t a lot of research covering the long-term effects of binge-drinking, but the more often you engage in this behavior, the more likely it is that it will result in significant damage to your health.
That’s because alcohol is known to increase the risk of several types of cancer, including the liver and colon. Alcohol causes inflammation of the liver, which can lead to cirrhosis.
Furthermore, as mentioned before, alcohol has a negative impact on your cardiovascular system and can increase the risk of a heart attack. Frequent drinking also affects your intestines and which can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb nutrients leading to malnutrition.
Heavy drinking weakens your immune system, interferes with calcium absorption, and reduces fertility both in men and women. Additionally, binge drinking puts you at higher risk of developing mental health problems like addiction, anxiety, and depression.