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Effects of Binge Drinking

The American mass media often glamorizes binge drinking. However, the truth is that this behavior or habit is not only harmful, it can also lead to many negative consequences. It often involves dangerous patterns of consuming alcohol excessively.

You could be said to have engaged in binge drinking if you consume so much alcohol that your BAC - or blood alcohol concentration - rises to over 0.08 percent. If you are female, this means that you would have drunk more than 4 alcoholic beverages within a 2 hour timeframe, or 5 if you are male.

What Is Binge Drinking?

Binge drinking is commonly overlooked because most people do not do it on a regular basis. If you are a binge drinker, you will typically consume alcohol a couple of days a week or month.

Often, you will schedule your drinking periods around your responsibilities at work, school, or home. This means that most people will assume that you are partying to try and blow off steam, engage in social drinking, or just be normal. However, the truth is that this habit can lead to worsening alcohol consumption.

The CDC ? the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ? states that binge drinking involves drinking so much alcohol that your blood alcohol content goes over and beyond the 0.08 percent mark. This would mean you took 4 drinks (if you are a woman) or 5 drinks (if you are a man) or more over a 2 hour period.

Short Term Effects of Binge Drinking

Often, you will start feeling the effects of drinking about 5 to 10 minutes after you have your first alcoholic beverage. The liver breaks down more than 90 percent of all the alcohol that is in your system. The rest will be excreted through sweat, your kidneys, and lungs.

If you are average sized, your live will only be able to break down a single standard drink in one hour. This means that when you drink more alcohol than it can process, the level of blood alcohol content will increase. At the same time, you will also experience various effects both physically and psychologically.

There are also other factors that will have an effect on your BAC. These include but are not limited to whether or not you ate before you started drinking, how quickly you consumed alcohol, your age, ethnicity, sex, and body type.

That said, there are many short term effects of binge drinking. These include but are not limited to:

  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Choking on your own vomit
  • Dangerously low levels of minerals and salts like sodium and potassium
  • Death
  • Dehydration
  • Depressed gag reflex
  • Drowning
  • Engaging in unsafe sex, which could lead to getting infected with sexually transmitted infections and contracting an unplanned pregnancy
  • Fatality from a motor vehicle accident
  • Heart failure
  • High blood pressure
  • High risk of injuries
  • Impaired ability of the body to heal
  • Inflammation and infection of the lungs
  • Inflammation of the liver, pancreas, or stomach
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Low blood sugar (or hypoglycemia)
  • Poor coordination
  • Poor executive functioning
  • Poor judgment
  • Self-harm
  • Suffocation
  • Suicidal ideation and action
  • Vomiting

Long Term Effects of Binge Drinking

If you only engage in binge drinking once, most of the short term side effects may dissipate. However, there are others that may stay for many years or for the rest of your life, including sexually transmitted infections and injuries.

On the other hand, if you have been binge drinking on a regular basis or more frequently than you used to, there is a high risk that you could suffer long term side effects. These include:

  • A suppressed immune system
  • Addiction
  • Alcohol dependency
  • Alcoholic liver disease
  • Anemia
  • Anxiety
  • Decreased sex drive (for men)
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Heart attack
  • High blood pressure
  • High risk of developing cancers of the mouth, liver, throat, colon, voice box, rectum, and esophagus
  • Impaired balance
  • Inflammation of the liver
  • Interference with the absorption of calcium
  • Interference with the absorption of nutrients and vitamins in the gut
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Issues with bone formation
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Low platelets
  • Malnutrition
  • Obesity
  • Osteoporosis
  • Poor coordination
  • Psychosis
  • Reduced fertility
  • Stroke

Alcohol Abuse and Binge Drinking

Alcohol abuse means that you drink heavily on 5 or more occasions in a single month. Binge drinking, on the other hand, can increase your risk of becoming an alcoholic or an alcohol abuse.

In fact, the greater the total number of alcoholic beverages you drink and the frequency at which you drink, the higher the risk that you will go from binge drinking to alcohol abuse and addiction.

According to the CDC, men with a low level of education as well as those who are disabled have the highest risk of binge drinking in the United States. Even so, males generally tend to drink more than 4.6 times a month while Caucasians drink in binges more often than other ethnicities.

Binge Drinking Problems

There are many health related issues that may arise if you have been binge drinking. Even engaging in a single session of this behavior could lead to various adverse effects, including but not limited to:

  • Alcohol dependence
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Bruises and bumps due to drunken clumsiness
  • Changes in liver function
  • Alcohol abuse escalating to include illicit hard drugs
  • Forgetfulness
  • Harmful falls
  • High risk for car accidents
  • Impaired judgment
  • Issues with safety
  • Kidney damage
  • Liver damage
  • Poor coordination
  • Poor decisions
  • Poor diet
  • Risky sexual activity
  • Sexual assault
  • Suicidal or homicidal impulses
  • Violent altercations

Getting Help

If you have been engaging in binge drinking, it is recommended that you check into an alcohol abuse and addiction treatment and rehabilitation program. This is the only way you can get the help that you need to overcome this habit and turn your life around from drinking excessively to not drinking at all.


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