Binge drinking is the consumption of a large quantity of alcohol over a short period of time. This is a habit that takes place on college campuses, during high school parties, at bars and other locations all over the world and in many cultures.
It’s not just the adults who binge drink. Below is an excerpt from a recent article in the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper;
‘One in five 15-year-olds drinks the equivalent of almost a bottle of wine a week and in some parts of the country, one in eight 12-year-olds is drinking this heavily. Binge drinking is also to blame for more than 4,300 teenage pregnancies, 11,500 expulsions and suspensions from school, and five and a half million lost days of schooling each year.
Drinking often becomes popular through peer pressure, it is made to look like fun and people think it will help them feel good. Some do it to relieve stress, although it usually creates more stress than it alleviates.
Most people don’t think about the consequences of drinking except for the initial side effect of getting drunk. Most of us don’t think about the resulting hangover or getting sick.
Besides these fairly immediate effects, there are other negative aspects to binge drinking. Drinking too much alcohol can cause lapses in memory and difficulty concentrating. Mood changes can also disrupt your daily schedule.
More serious problems can also result from excessive drinking. Alcohol poisoning is life-threatening. Alcohol poisoning affects your involuntary reflexes. These reflexes include your gag reflex and breathing. Obviously you don’t want to stop breathing and if your gag reflex is not working you run the risk of choking to death on food or vomit.
Other symptoms of alcohol poisoning include seizures, confusion, low body temperature, pale or bluish skin, vomiting, irregular or slow breathing, and the inability to be awakened.
Bingeing also impairs your judgment. Those who are inebriated are more likely to take unnecessary risks. They may try to drive while under the influence and injure or kill themselves or others.
Even walking is more difficult when you’re drunk. In North America, approximately one-third of the pedestrians killed in traffic accidents in 2000 over the age of 16 were intoxicated, according to the Nemours Foundation (http://kidshealth.org).
People who have been drinking to excess may also have unprotected sex which may result in an unplanned pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease.
Bingeing can affect your overall health. According to studies in the United States people who drink in high school are more likely to have high blood pressure and be overweight by age 24. Alcohol contains a lot of calories. These people tend to have a harder time in school and may drop out.
Drinking alcohol disrupts your sleep patterns, making it more difficult to be alert during the day. Binge drinking can also change your personality. Many people who drink become more moody or angry when under the influence.
Other US studies show that those who binge heavily (three or more binges in a two week time period) exhibit some symptoms of alcoholism. Here are some quick facts that may help you understand the scope of this problem.
Did you know:
- Around 92% of adults in the United States who drink excessively admit to bingeing in the past month, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
- Almost 75% of the alcohol consumed in the US by adults is done during a binge.
- Bingeing bahavior is twice as likely to be found in men than women.
- Bingers are 14 times more likely to have alcohol-impaired driving incidents than those who don’t indulge in this behavior.
Many health problems are associated with binge drinking:
- Intentional injuries like sexual assaults, domestic violence and firearm injuries
- Unintentional injuries like falls, drowning, and car crashes
- Sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies
- Alcohol poisoning
- Babies born with problems due to foetal alcohol syndrome
- Sexual dysfunction
- Liver disease
- Neurological problems