The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines binge drinking as a pattern of heavy alcohol consumption within a short period of time. This typically means 5 or more drinks within 2 hours for men and 4 or more drinks within the same period for women. Although many people engage in binge drinking without becoming alcohol dependent, the CDC has found that over 90% of adults who drink excessively engage in binge drinking on a regular basis. This figure indicates that binge drinking could be a sign that alcohol recovery treatment is required.
Many people are unaware that binge drinking and heavy drinking are among the leading causes of death in America, with almost 80,000 deaths each year tied to excessive alcohol consumption. Binge drinking is associated with higher incidences of drunk driving, car accidents, sexually transmitted diseases, unplanned pregnancies, fetal alcohol syndrome, violence and suicide. Other health problems that are associated with binge drinking include liver disease, high blood pressure, stroke, neurological disorders and cardiovascular disease.
In addition to accidents and health problems, binge drinking can cause psychological problems. There is a direct connection between binge drinking and the development of alcohol dependency and alcoholism. Teenagers and young adults are especially at risk when it comes to binge drinking. Because the brain of a young adult is still developing, binge drinking under the age of 25 can cause long term damage to memory and the ability to pay attention.
Popular culture and alcohol advertisers have created an image of binge drinking as a fun activity and a rite of passage for teenagers and young adults. The CDC reports that more than 90% of all drinking done by those under the age of 21 is binge drinking. The tradition of binge drinking is a common problem on many college and university campuses, where peer pressure causes inexperienced drinkers to overindulge. A few short years of binge drinking can result in the need for alcohol recovery.
Binge drinking is a form of alcohol abuse that can wreak havoc on relationships, work and school. Regular binge drinking can lead to alcohol tolerance, meaning that it requires more alcohol to feel intoxicated. Tolerance is one of the first major signals of alcoholism. Another warning sign of alcoholism is that bingeing episodes continue to occur despite the negative impacts it has on the drinker’s life and relationships. When binge drinking occurs on a regular basis, a health care professional should be consulted about alcohol recovery treatment. A family intervention may be required to convince the binge drinker that an alcohol problem exists and that it must be dealt with.