Top 10 Dangers of Binge Drinking
Long regarded as a favorite pastime for many college students, binge drinking is the most common and most deadly example of excessive alcohol use in the United States. It is primarily practiced among individuals in the 18-34 age range, especially found at parties and sometimes even treated as a rite of passage for sororities, fraternities, and sports teams. Of course, it is by no means exclusive to this group of individuals, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than half of binge drinks consumed each year comes from those above the age of 35.
Binge drinking is described as a drinking pattern in which an individual’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08% or above; usually well above. Assuming the individual is drinking beer, this means consuming more than 5 drinks for men or 4 drinks for women within a two-hour time period. It is frequently done as a result of social pressures, whether it is to fit in with a certain group or to reduce social anxiety before interacting with others.
Regardless of a person’s age, binge drinking is extremely dangerous and can easily lead to health complications, legal consequences, and alcoholism. Before taking your next drink, it is imperative to consider these 10 serious dangers that may be waiting for you.
1. Unintentional Injuries Caused from Binge Drinking
When a person is drinking heavily, they quickly lose control of themselves. Their senses become impaired and their balance falters or fails, frequently leading to injuries that would otherwise be easily avoidable. The decision-making process in a person’s brain also suffers significantly, and the drinker may feel that they can accomplish feats far beyond what is safe in their current, or even sober, state.
With poor motion control and judgment, binge drinkers have a higher chance of hurting themselves when attempting to perform simple tasks. They often get hurt falling down a flight of stairs, tripping over furniture, or cutting themselves on a sharp object, like a knife. Some drinkers even become wild and arrogant while under the influence, driving them to attempt daring and foolish things, such as jumping from heights or dodging moving cars in a street.
If a responsible party is not present to take their car keys, binge drinking may lead someone to drive under the influence. This presents serious danger not only to them but everyone else on the road.
In all scenarios, all it takes is one bad drunken decision to turn a social outing into a potentially serious injury.
2. Binge Drinking Can Result in Violent Behavior
Every individual has a slightly different reaction to heavy drinking. While some people might close themselves off, other people become boisterous and more emboldened in their interactions, if not outright aggressive. One study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that roughly 42% of all violent crimes leading to police involvement were alcohol related. This shows that the odds of a drunk individual becoming violent are higher than anyone would like to imagine.
While under the influence a person who becomes aggressive is more likely to commit homicide, domestic violence, physical, or sexual assault. It is also possible they will have no memory of the event the following day, but the consequences of their crime will still exist and can easily ruin lives.
3. Binge Drinking May Lead to Financial Troubles
Heavy drinking is a costly habit, both for the individuals participating and for society as a whole. While binging is less likely to leave a person in poverty in the way that alcoholism does, it is still a serious loss of funds that could have been put toward other ventures. For college students, this loss is significant because many already struggle to pay for tuition, food, lodging, and required textbooks. Binge drinking also takes a toll on productivity and can lead to unexpected medical costs if an emergency occurs.
In a 2010 study, the CDC calculated that at $2.05 a drink, binge drinking cost the United States and individuals roughly $249 billion each year as a result of workplace productivity loss, health care costs, criminal justice expenses, and property damage. Given that the cost of a single drink has risen in the past decade, that number is well over $249 billion today.
4. Binge Drinking Can Affect Brain Development
When alcohol is consumed while an individual’s brain is still developing, it can alter their brain in a negative way. This frequently causes a drop in the drinker’s IQ, leading to memory impairment and other cognitive problems that will plague their learning ability and social skills. The results of this will become even more pronounced as the person ages, especially if they continue to binge drink.
Brain development frequently continues until 25 years old, meaning that college students, one of the largest demographics for binge drinking, are especially at risk for damage. High school students also make up a heavy percentage and are at greater risk, as their brains are even more susceptible to alcohol.
5. Unexpected Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases
A person’s decision-making process is significantly impaired while heavily under the influence of alcohol, which frequently leads to poor decision making. This is especially the case when it comes to sexual choices and interactions. Individuals who have been binging are more likely to engage in unsafe sex, increasing the chance of receiving a sexually transmitted disease or an unwanted pregnancy.
6. Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
While pregnant women should never drink alcohol, there are still many scenarios where this is evident. Whether it is because the woman is unaware of a pregnancy or a belief that alcohol cannot harm their fetus, drinking while pregnant is an unfortunate reality. If you are pregnant or considering becoming pregnant, it is imperative to know that even a small amount of alcohol can cause lasting damage to an unborn fetus, such as fetal alcohol syndrome. This disorder causes developmental, cognitive, and behavioral issues that may haunt a child for all of their life.
Furthermore, women who drink while pregnant are more likely to miscarry or have a stillbirth. This is a heartbreaking experience that can cause further psychological damage and relationship problems for both the mother and father.
7. Chronic Diseases
Repeated binge drinking takes a serious toll on the body and increases a person’s chance of developing a chronic disease. This can include high blood pressure, heart disease, and liver disease, and according to Dr. Geoffrey Kane of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, these problems can develop while a person is only in their 20s or 30s. Individuals who binge are also more likely to suffer from strokes compared to their counterparts.
While not often reported on, binge drinking puts an individual at greater risk of developing certain types of cancer early in life. The primary variants of this include breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon cancer. Other types of cancer can also develop due to how alcohol works its way into the bloodstream and is distributed throughout the body. Smoking in combination with drinking amplifies these effects and sharply raises a person’s risk for cancer as well.
9. Alcohol Dependence
Individuals that take part in binge drinking are more likely to develop a dependence on alcohol, especially if they start drinking while they are young. This is a serious disease that leaves a person reliant on alcohol and carries with it a host of other problems ranging from financial troubles and health conditions, to the destruction of important relationships like a marriage. Alcohol dependence can easily lead to addiction, which unfortunately has no cure.
When a person is suffering from alcohol dependence, they will begin to experience cravings and may even suffer from withdrawal. This reinforces the need to continue drinking and once they have started, it will be difficult to stop. To break this cycle, many individuals must seek the help of professionals who specialize in addiction treatment and abstain from consuming all mood and mind-altering substances.
10. Alcohol Poisoning
Perhaps the most well-known risk of binge drinking is alcohol poisoning. The definition is as it sounds; when a person has had too much to drink, the alcohol becomes a poison in their body, causing an immediate health emergency. This leads to thousands of emergency room visits each year, many including high school and college students.
Signs that a person may have alcohol poisoning include extreme confusion, vomiting, seizures, pale skin, or a loss of consciousness. Furthermore, large quantities of alcohol interfere with the gag reflex and can cause a person to choke if they have been vomiting. In other words, without a rapid response, binge drinking to the point of alcohol poisoning can have fatal outcomes.
Get Help Today for Alcoholism and Addiction
If you or someone you love is currently struggling with binge drinking, alcoholism, or substance abuse, it is time to get the help you deserve. While you may have convinced yourself that you do not have a problem, binge drinking is extremely dangerous and can easily lead to life-threatening scenarios.
At Brookdale Premier Addiction Recovery, we recognize that every person enters treatment at a different point in their life, in varying degrees and circumstances. As such, we meet each patient exactly where they are at in their journey, carefully constructing treatment plans that address their specific needs. By doing so, individuals are given the best possible chance to overcome their substance use disorder and experience a life…recovered.
To learn more about our program or to speak with an Admissions Specialist, please call us now at 855-575-1292.