Binge drinking is much more common than many people think. How common? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Binge drinking is the most common and costly pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States… One in six US adults binge drinks, with 25% doing so at least weekly,” and “Over 90% of US adults who drink excessively report binge drinking.” Yet, many people don’t realize just how dangerous binge drinking can be, especially in the long term.
What Exactly Is Binge Drinking?
Many people who binge drink may not even know that they are doing it. This is because excess limits have been significantly expanded as to the social “norms” or what is socially acceptable. The CDC defines binge drinking as men drinking five or more drinks on any occasion, and women consuming any four drinks. Now, one can see how, in today’s culture, this limit could be pretty easy to reach.
Binge drinking is most common with younger people, especially high school-age teens and college-age young people. However, there is no age limit on who engages in binge drinking.
Some of the more common instances of binge drinking may be at “house” parties, holiday parties, weddings, and other social events where alcohol consumption tends to be a centerpiece. These are also the instances where binge drinking appears to be more acceptable and less harmful because many people are engaged in it at the same time. This is simply not true.
How Dangerous Is Binge Drinking?
The following are some of the dangers of binge drinking by the numbers. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), “Binge drinking can be deadly. Approximately 140,000 deaths resulted from alcohol misuse annually in the United States between 2015 and 2019, and almost half of those were associated with binge drinking. Binge drinking is also costly.” The NIAAA estimates that hundreds of billions of dollars are spent due to the negative effects of binge drinking.
Now, these numbers have certainly increased since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020. The difference is that many people began binge drinking alone at their homes. This was often due to depression, anxiety, despair, and loneliness. The effects of this continue to be seen as more and more people discuss their struggles with excessive drinking during the pandemic.
The Short-Term Dangers of Binge Drinking
As with some of the more long-term effects, binge drinking also has many short-term side effects. The following are just a few of those negative effects:
- Individuals are more likely to black out and cause harm to themselves or others
- There is a greater likelihood of alcohol poisoning and costly hospital visits
- Legal troubles are much more likely to be incurred
- People are more likely to get into dangerous sexual situations
- A greater likelihood of automobile and other vehicle accidents
- Can cause excessive and painful hangovers, plus serious dehydration
The Long-Term Health Problems of Binge Drinking
Now, the short-term dangers can be very serious and if something more serious comes of them, say a car accident, then they certainly become a potential long-term consequence. However, there are also significant long-term health consequences. The following are some, but not all, of those consequences:
- May cause chronic diseases such as stroke, high blood pressure, liver disease, and heart disease
- Has been linked to certain cancers such as breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men
- Long-term learning and memory problems
- For adolescents, it may interfere with brain development
- May cause obesity
- Long-term issues with sleep including struggles with insomnia
- A significantly higher risk of becoming addicted and acquiring alcohol use disorder (AUD)
It is this last long-term consequence that exemplifies why one should get help sooner rather than later. Binge drinking can lead to AUD and a long struggle with recovery and relapse, but it doesn’t have to.
Our Primary Purpose at Lantana Recovery
Here at Lantana Recovery, our primary purpose is to help those struggling with issues of addiction and mental illness recover for the long term. We can also help individuals that may be wondering about their binge drinking, and whether or not they have a problem with alcohol.
If you are wondering if you or a loved one can stop, we are here to tell you that stopping is possible. A new life is waiting for you. As Bill W., one of the co-founders of alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) once said, with help, you can “be catapulted into what I like to call the fourth dimension of existence.” You can “know happiness, peace, and usefulness, in a way of life that is incredibly more wonderful as time passes.”
Recovery is within reach. You just need to put out your hand for us to take it.
Long-term alcohol abuse is detrimental to the mind, body, and soul. Many people engage in binge drinking (especially younger people) without realizing the harm that binge drinking does to them physically and mentally. It can also eventually corrupt them spiritually. Binge drinking can do serious damage in the immediate moment (such as alcohol poisoning), but it may also lead to long-term alcohol use disorder (AUD). If you feel like you or someone you love is struggling with issues of addiction, mental illness, or both, we can help. For more information about the dangers of binge drinking and some of the best ways to avoid and recover from it, please reach out to Lantana Recovery today at (866) 997-2870.