Unlike many other addictive substances, such as cocaine or heroin, alcohol is both legal and easily accessible in the United States. It is especially popular among younger Americans and has become culturally associated with many social events such as birthdays, weddings, and sporting events. While occasional alcohol consumption does not pose a significant risk of addiction to most people, incorporating alcohol as a regular part of socializing can lead to problems such as binge drinking.
Binge drinking is the consumption of four or more drinks for women, and five or more drinks for men, within two hours. It is often seen as a socially acceptable way to consume larger amounts of alcohol and is becoming increasingly prevalent in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 38 million U.S. adults binge drink an average of four times a month and consume an average of eight drinks per binge.
Alcohol and Binge Drinking Information
- In 2018, 86.3% of people ages 18 or older reported drinking alcohol at some point in their lifetime.
- 63 million Americans binge drink about once a month, and there are an estimated 17 million underage drinkers in the United States every year.
- About 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually, making it the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
- Alcohol use disorder affects approximately 15 million adults in the U.S., according to estimates from 2014 to 2016.
- In 2018, an estimated 14 million adults ages 18 and over had Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).
Not all binge drinkers are physically dependent on alcohol. However, regular binge drinking often results in physical and mental health problems. These problems can range from simple hangovers to psychological addiction.
What Is Binge Drinking?
Binge drinking is among the most common forms of alcohol abuse. In fact, the majority of alcohol consumed in the United States is often drunk in a way that could be considered binge drinking. Binge drinking is medically defined as the consumption of alcohol that results in a higher than 0.08% blood alcohol content.
In other words, binge drinking describes men drinking an average of five drinks or women having an average of two drinks within a couple of hours.
Certain demographics are more prone to binge drinking. Young adults are especially fond of binge drinking. However, people of all ages — including seniors — are known to binge drink. Just under 20% of American residents binge drink several times per month.
Binge drinking is not the same as alcoholism. However, people who binge drink regularly are at a greater risk of developing an addiction to alcohol.
Causes of Binge Drinking
People binge drink for many different reasons. For some, binge drinking might indicate an underlying mental health condition. For others, binge drinking may happen in response to a celebration or event. Here are some common examples of binge drinking.
Many people binge drink because they struggle with some form of anxiety. Social anxiety is a very common problem that people often drink to overcome. However, people can also binge drink to overcome panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder.
Many people drink in order to celebrate special events. Proms, weddings, and graduations are all situations that may lead to people drinking more than is healthy.
Repressing or Avoiding Emotions
Some people may binge drink to overcome or repress difficult emotions. In this case, people may binge drink with friends or alone. Depression, grief, and guilt are common emotions that people often try to avoid by drinking alcohol.
Alcoholism and Previous Drinking Issues
Some people may get caught in a cycle of binge drinking. Binge drinking often results in a hangover. Drinking more alcohol is one way to minimize the effects of a hangover, which can lead to binges that last days or weeks. People with chronic alcohol problems may also develop issues with shame and guilt, which can spur them to drink more alcohol.
Unhealthy Beliefs Regarding Alcohol
Many people believe that alcohol is healthy or socially beneficial. While there may be some perceived benefits in the short term, this can lead to chronic binge drinking, which will cause problems.
Many people binge drink because of peer pressure. Direct peer pressure — being exposed to people who are verbally encouraging you to drink alcohol — or indirect peer pressure — which occurs when people feel the need to drink simply because their friends or family members are drinking — are both factors.
These are just a few situations that may lead to binge drinking. More specific situations, such as losing a loved one, failure at school, or eviction, can also create emotional turmoil that may lead to drinking.
Signs and Symptoms of Binge Drinking and Related Risks of Binging Alcohol
If you’re unsure whether your drinking habits can be classified as binge drinking, look at this list of symptoms and signs. If these symptoms apply to you, you may have a problem with binge drinking.
- Frequently consuming alcohol
- Making excuses for your drinking
- Dangerous or immoral behavior
- Lapses in memory
Binge drinking is not healthy behavior. As such, it can create several problems. Physical and mental health problems may emerge due to chronic binge drinking, and binge drinkers may also experience difficulty in their social or professional life.
Here are some common risks and dangers associated with binge drinking.
- Increased risk of violent injuries. Binge drinkers are more likely to commit violent acts themselves, and they are also more likely to get into confrontational situations, which may result in their own injuries
- Increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases or sexual problems, including sexual assault or violence
- Increased risk of accidental injuries (such as vehicle accidents, falls, and alcohol poisoning)
- Increased risk of physical health problems ranging from high blood pressure to liver disease and cancer
- Problems with short and long-term memory, cognitive difficulties, and speech problems
- Increased risk of alcoholism
- Problems with personal relationships
- Emotional instability, acting irrationally, and difficulties expressing one’s emotions
- Increased risk of missing work or failing to attend school
- Financial problems, either from spending too much money on alcohol or from being unable to regulate spending habits while drunk
Contact BlueCrest Recovery Center Today
Binge drinking is a common problem. Most Americans have participated in binge drinking at least once, and many continue to do so regularly. Unfortunately, binge drinking can cause many problems.
If you or a loved one are struggling with binge drinking or other alcohol-related problems, help is available. Please reach out to BlueCrest Recovery Center at 888.292.9652 or by contacting us online. Our compassionate, professional team can answer any questions.