Drinking is part of socializing in the US, but when does drinking stop being fun and start being dangerous? We’re here to let you know the basics about binge drinking and how it can harm your health.
What is it?
Binge drinking is defined as the consumption of five or more alcoholic beverages on a single occasion. The goal of binge drinking is intoxication, and this type of drinking is most prevalent in 18 to 25-year-olds.
What are the risks?
Alcohol poisoning is one dangerous outcome of binge drinking. Alcohol poisoning occurs when one’s blood alcohol concentration is so high that the body is unable to process it safely. It can result in vomiting, slowed breathing, irregular heartbeat, hypothermia, seizures, brain damage, and even death. In addition to alcohol poisoning, there are many other risks. Due to the impaired judgment and loss of motor skills, binge drinkers may become victims of rape, car crashes, violence, and self-inflicted harm. Chronic binge drinking can lead to alcoholism, liver damage, cancer, and heart disease. And pregnant women should especially take care not to binge drink, as their unborn child can develop Fetal Alcohol Syndrome as a result.
How can I stop?
-Slow down. Don’t feel pressured to keep up with the heaviest drinkers at a party. Drink at your own pace and take it slowly. Don’t consume any more than one drink per hour.
-Avoid taking shots. A shot of alcohol contains just as much alcohol as a 12-oz. beer, so don’t be fooled into thinking you’re consuming less. Instead, stick to a beverage that will take longer to consume and you’ll be able to better pace yourself.
-Think about the consequences. Do you really want to end up throwing up, falling down, or waking up next to a stranger? Keep these thoughts in mind the next time you drink.
-Be the designated driver. You’ll not only be performing a wonderful service for your friends, but you’ll save money and be hangover-free the next day.
-Get support. Find a friend who doesn’t want to drink very much either and keep an eye on each other throughout the night. With your friend by your side, you’ll be less apt to give in to peer pressure.
If you think that you may have an alcohol problem, you can obtain more information at http://aa.org/. You can also call this toll-free number to speak to someone about your problem: 1-866-925-4030. The phone lines are open 24 hours per day.