The Shocking Truth About Binge Drinking
When asked about America’s #1 social issues, most women think its excessive weight gain, which can be caused by the bad habit of piling on the pounds by eating junk foods. However, alcoholism is a far worse situation facing American society today. However, it’s not just alcoholism but a relatively new form of it called binge drinking.
Binge drinking is a colloquial term for heavy episodic drinking. The purpose of binge drinking is to drink alcoholic beverages to get intoxicated fast. This can be done by drinking a large amount of alcohol in a short amount of time. When men consume five or more drinks and women consume four or more drinks within 2 hours, alcohol levels rise to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or more.
Everything Gets Worse With Binge Drinking
While there are many personal and social problems associated with alcoholism, they get much worse with binge drinking.
It is not uncommon for a binge drinker to get a DUI, which may either lead to the suspension of their license or the necessity to find cheap auto insurance SR22 to retain their right to drive. However, driving penalties are just one thing of many things that can go wrong. A binge drinker may have relationship problems. They might lose their jobs due to showing up late or poor job performance. And if they are on a career track, then they might jeopardize it, as well.
In fact, the social harm and economic costs can be staggering—not only for the individual concerned, but their family and society at large. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “Drinking too much, including binge drinking, cost the United States $249 billion in 2010, or $2.05 a drink, from losses in productivity, health care, crime, and other expenses. Binge drinking was responsible for 77% of these costs, or $191 billion.”
Binge Drinking Is Not Social Drinking
Binge drinking is often confused with social drinking. It is different from social drinking. In some cases, the end results may appear similar—heavy intoxication—but the intentions behind both forms of drinking are not at all the same.
Binge drinking may be done alone or in a group, and the only intention is to get intoxicated quickly. With social drinking, the intention is camaraderie. It is a form of group behavior. Intoxication is not necessary, but just considered a fringe benefit, a simple way to lose inhibition and excessive self-consciousness.
Binge drinking can occur over a course of several hours. In some extreme cases, it might last for several days, or even for weeks. By contrast, social drinking only lasts a few hours.
Finally, while binge drinking is considered irresponsible misuse of alcohol and a serious public health issue, social drinking is often done responsibly and within conventional limits.
Who Binge Drinks?
The most common binge drinkers are males, adolescent boys and young men. Most binge drinkers are between 18 and 34 years of age. Alarmingly, one in three adolescents is a binge drinker.
However, binge drinking also affects the other side of the age range, and the other age group that binge drinks most often are 65+.
When it comes to income, the largest group earn more than $75,000, but the most active group—those who drink the most per binge most often—are those who earn less than $25,000.
Binge Drinkers Face Serious Health Issues
Binge drinkers showed a variety of health issues because they shock their bodies with the sudden ingestion of a large amount of alcohol before the body has a chance to heal itself. An analogy is that it’s rather similar to an army winning a battle through the use of overwhelming force.
Alcohol-induced disorders affect the nervous system, the immune system, and the musculoskeletal system. Binge drinkers also showed alcohol induced psychiatric disorders, hematologic disorders, and gastrointestinal disorders.
Adolescents who start binge drinking at an early age may develop all the symptoms of alcoholism.
Perhaps, the biggest damage caused by binge drinking is brain damage. A large number of brain cells die after a binge drinking episode. Adolescents, who still have developing brains, are more susceptible than other populations to the neurotoxic effects of drinking a minimum of 10 drinks once or twice a month. Brain damage comes from the rapid ingestion of a large amount of alcohol within a short period of time.
Social Harm Caused By Binge Drinking
Binge drinking, especially among adolescents, has been associated with suicide, violent behavior, and traffic accidents.
The more often a child or adolescent binge drinks and the younger they start the more likely that they will develop an alcohol use disorder. However, the picture gets even worse: one in 25 women who binge drink during pregnancy, and this leads to a variety of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
What Can Be Done About It?
For now, community leadership and the formation of educational groups to raise awareness appears to be the most practical solution. While almost everyone is aware of alcoholism, much fewer are aware of binge drinking. What’s more, even those who know don’t realize that the situation is far worse than they imagine. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that over 38 million adults binge drink. On average, the binge drink 8 drinks per episode and do it about 4 times a month.