The Dangers of Binge Drinking
Binge drinking is on the increase in all age groups from teens to senior citizens. The dangers of binge drinking in teens and adults are many and can even be deadly.
What is Binge Drinking?
Binge drinking used to mean drinking for several days in a row, going on a binge or a bender. The current definition of binge drinking has changed to drinking heavily in a short amount of time for the sole purpose to get drunk. Binge drinking is now defined as, drinking five or more drinks in a row for a male and four or more drinks in a row for a female.
I think the term binge drinking applies to both drinking heavily in a short amount of time and drinking for many days in a row. No matter what the actual definition is, both are binge drinking and both are dangerous.
The Dangers of Binge Drinking Include:
- Alcohol poisoning
- Blacking out all memory for hours
- Death from vomiting
- High blood pressure
- Driving drunk and arrest for DUI
- Illegal actions, assaults and to say the least, embarrassing incidents
People might laugh at the actions of someone who is drunk, but after continuous drinking, that person’s life could be in danger and that is no laughing matter.
Many times, alcohol is involved in the leading causes of death of teens; car accidents, suicide and murder. Of the teens involved in deadly car accidents, 31% had been drinking.
Continual binge drinking can also cause long term health damage including:
- Liver disease
- Bladder damage
- Nerve damage
- Long term memory loss and neurological damage
Who is Binge Drinking and Why
Binge drinking usually doesn’t start out as a drinking binge. It might start out as a few beers, and when the beers don’t seem to be enough, a person could move on to hard liquor. There are drinking games that teen’s feel they have to be involved in to stay a part of their group.
Teens will drink because of peer pressure or believe that alcohol will reduce stress and anxiety. Except in the long run, alcohol increases anxiety and stress.
Adults and senior citizens might be binge drinking because of concerns of finance, loss of spouse and fear of being alone or worries about an illness.
Companies have made liquor seem less like liquor and the advertising is aimed at young adults and it often does seem that these ads are aimed at freshman in college or even younger.
Caffeine-Alcohol Drinks and Binge Drinking
There are new drinks that contain both alcohol and caffeine and by drinking these alcoholic beverages, a person might falsely believe that they will not get as drunk because of the added caffeine. The caffeine is masking the intoxicating effects for the drinker while their blood alcohol levels are rising, in spite of the added caffeine.
As of this writing, there is a commercial drink with the brand name of Four Loko, a fruit flavored malt drink with 12% alcohol and a caffeine equivalent of one cup of coffee. This drink has been associated with binge drinking at several colleges where students ended up in the emergency room with high levels of alcohol poisoning. 12% is about three times more alcohol than a normal can of beer. Four Loko has been banned in several states .
Alcohol poisoning is one of the biggest risks of binge drinking and it happens all too often. Alcohol poisoning happens when a person drinks too much alcohol and their body’s involuntary functions can start to shut down. Involuntary functions include breathing, the heart beating and what is called the gag reflex. This is how someone can die on their own vomit while passed out.
Alcohol poisoning occurs when the body cannot eliminate the alcohol from the body fast enough. The blood alcohol concentration in the body becomes too high and poisoning occurs. Alcohol poisoning can result in death. For more about alcohol poisoning please read All About Alcohol Poisoning
Impaired Brain Functioning
Binge drinking and alcohol in general can cause disruptions in sleep patterns which affect memory and learning centers of the brain. Students who regularly drink or binge drink are more likely to drop out of school.
Binge drinking can affect moods including increased anger, extreme sadness and depression which can last long after the alcohol has worn off.
Binge Drinking and High Blood Pressure
People with high blood pressure or hypertension are more at risk of having a stroke or heart attack when binge drinking. The study found men with high blood pressure were four times more at risk for a heart attack or stroke if they had six or more drinks on one occasion and twelve times more at risk when the binge drinking was 12 or more drinks on one occasion .
Binge Drinking and Injury or Death from Accidents
Binge drinking is responsible for injury and deaths by accidents including falling, bleeding to death and frostbite. A study in Australia found that people who drink alcohol are four times more likely to be injured by accidents.
I remember reading about a man binge drinking and falling through his front plate glass window one night. He passed out and bled to death. Every winter you read stories about someone binge drinking, walking outside only to be found frozen to death the next day.
Impaired judgment, Criminal Actions and Embarrassing Incidents
Binge drinking can take someone from being sober to dangerously drunk in a short amount of time. Impaired judgment can cause even the simplest task like walking to be dangerous. 31% of the pedestrians killed by cars were drunk.
Binge drinking can also lead to fights resulting in murder, sexual assaults, drunk driving arrest (DUI) and or death and unplanned pregnancies.
Impaired judgment can lead to embarrassing incidents, too many to list here.
When it’s Time to call an Ambulance
Another danger with underage binge drinking is when someone does exhibit signs of alcohol poisoning, teens are afraid to call for an ambulance, since they realize they are all breaking the law with underage drinking which might prevent them from calling for help.
Paramedics (911) should be called when any one of these symptoms occurs:
- The person has passed out and cannot be woken
- Cold, clammy, pale or bluish skin
- Slow breathing, fewer than 8 breaths per minute
- Erratic breathing, 10 seconds or more between breaths
- Low body temperature
- Confusion, stupor or coma
- Trouble breathing after vomiting
Conclusion on Binge Drinking
Teens and adults might read this and say these things won’t happen to me when I drink. Remember, these statistics are full of people who said these things would never happen to them when they end up binge drinking.
Binge drinking causes a person to get drunk fast, which causes the loss of good judgment fast. The do not realize how drunk they are getting when binge drinking. They might throw up and continue drinking getting so drunk they actually think they are sober until it could be too late.
© November 2, 2010 Sam Montana