It is time to change, or at least amend, the way we think about binge drinking. “Binge Drinking” often reminds people of frat parties, complete with beer bongs, a sea of plastic cups, and college kids puking on the front lawn. Does this image qualify as a picture of binge drinking? Yes, it does, but it is an incomplete one. We need to expand the view of binge drinking so that it adequately encompasses people who are suffering from binge drinking behavior often without realizing it. Additionally, we need to promote lasting recovery from binge drinking.
Who Are Binge Drinkers?
College students and spring-breakers get the bad rap for their drinking behavior. However, they just happen to be a more visible demographic. They do not make up the largest demographic of binge drinkers. Young professionals and middle-aged adults with a bit of disposable income do.
Although college students commonly binge drink, 70 percent of binge drinking episodes involve adults age 26 years and older. They are not doing keg stands in their friends’ basements or dancing on tables in South Padre. They are, however, putting away enough liquor to qualify as binge drinkers. Often, they are drinking in the comfort of their own apartments, in the homes of their friends, or at the post-work happy hour. Additionally, these young adults drink fine wine and sophisticated cocktails with expensive spirits. Therefore, people do not think of them as binge drinkers.
As a result, the issue is excused, overlooked and ignored. College students are not the only ones who face negative outcomes from binge drinking behavior. Adults of all ages who drink to excess face the same risks and the stakes can be even higher. This is because they have jobs, families and other adult responsibilities to maintain. They often need awareness, education, and methods for quitting after their college years.
What Constitutes A Binge Drinker?
Many people do not realize they are binge drinkers because they are unaware of what constitutes binge drinking. According to the CDC, “The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume five or more drinks, and when women consume four or more drinks, in about two hours.”
Is Binge Drinking A Problem?
While alcohol consumption is often encouraged as a gateway to fun times and a fulfilling life, binge drinking is rarely publicly portrayed in a positive light. Even the kids who engage in it often sense that it is a less than healthy behavior, no matter how much they might brag about it to their friends.
Health Consequences Of Binge Drinking
But binge drinking, while it can lead to alcohol poisoning and death, often does not lead to such a drastic and tragic end. The spectrum of what constitutes binge drinking is roomy, from milder to medium to extreme binging. So what is so dangerous about this excessive drinking for a mature adult? Other than the fact that half of the next day is committed to nursing the inevitable hangover, if a young professional wants to go out a couple of times a month and really “have a good time,” is that something to be concerned about?
It is a concern because rarely are the consequences consistently that simple. Binge drinking is rarely just a matter of a few friends walking to a bar and drinking more than their share in quick succession. It is more than just hanging out a bit or having some laughs or catching a game on TV, then walking home and calling it a night. It can lead to serious injury.
While excessive drinking causes undue strain on the liver, this is a negative health-related consequence that may not be observed for many years. There are, however, more immediate concerns associated with excessive drinking. The possibility for all of the injuries below increases when one is under the influence of excessive alcohol:
- The occurrence of trips and falls
- Stumbling into traffic
- Injuries from fights
And all of this is before driving is factored into the equation. Because yes, binge drinkers will still get behind the wheel of a car. Additionally, lowered inhibition also increases one’s willingness to have unprotected sex and thus increases the risk of STDs or unintended pregnancy. Women who binge drink are at greater risk for rape and sexual assault.
Loss Of Productivity
Binge drinking causes the loss of productivity at work and in life in general. This cannot be avoided, though binge drinkers often deny it. The expense of heavy drinking can also lead to financial insecurity. Additionally, the unpredictability of drunken behavior patterns can strain otherwise normal relationships.
If you or a loved one is struggling with binge drinking, contact The Right Step at 713.528.3709 today. We can help you overcome your habits to live a more healthy, fulfilled lifestyle without drugs or alcohol.