What is Binge Drinking?

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What is Binge Drinking?

In the most general terms, binge drinking is drinking a large number of alcoholic drinks in a short period. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration to 0.08g/dl or above.

It is estimated that this would most likely happen in men with five drinks within two hours, and for women, an estimated four drinks within about two hours. Binge drinking can be described as a way of drinking with a goal of rapid ingestion to presumably get drunk as quickly as possible. Binge drinking is highly linked with social and sporting events.

It is less likely to happen in solitary or small group events. Some have pointed to the early college experience as a prime-time area for binge drinking. Away from parents, meeting many new people at once and never before experienced freedom can lead to binge drinking college students. College is one of the highest risk times for developing habitual binge drinking which can further lead to the development of alcoholism.

Binge Drinking and College Students

Binge drinking is most popular among adults below 35 years old. In general binge drinking tends to be most closely associated with college students. This can be related to age, opportunity, and circumstance.

Many college freshmen are experiencing freedom for the first time and are also finding themselves needing to make friends in unfamiliar territory. This can involve drinking in order to ease anxiety meeting people or before finals. Some have reported the first six weeks of college are some of the highest risk times for unsafe drinking.

For new high school graduates, inexperienced with alcohol can lead to accidental binge drinking without realizing the compounded effects of alcohol ingestion. This can be true especially in those who are bought or handed multiple drinks in a short period of time, leading some to “lose count” of what they have drunk. Binge drinking has been linked to Greek fraternity and sorority culture, sporting events, and a general expectation of a college experience.

This can be seen in media portrayals of college as well as music references and almost every major college football game tailgate. This can be difficult normalcy of college life to reject, especially for those wanting and needing to create new social circles.

Effects of Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is associated with injury including car crashes, falls and alcohol poisoning as well as with adverse sexual encounter effects. These can include unintended pregnancies, sexual partner violence, and sexually transmitted diseases.

The University of Rochester Medical Center states binge drinking college students has devastating consequences. Each year, close to 2,000 college students die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries. In addition, almost 100,000 college students have experienced an alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape every year. Alcohol-related physical violence also occurs, with an estimated 700,000 college students reporting an assault every year related to alcohol use.

Binge drinking in college is linked to thousands of cases of alcohol poisoning. In the media, these have most recently been reported linked to fraternities or sororities. Heavy alcohol use affects the breathing centers of the brain as well as the gag reflex. If you drink too much and pass out, you are at risk of choking to death on your own vomit.

In addition, blood alcohol levels can continue to rise after drinking resulting in alcohol poisoning. Someone who is unresponsive, has a seizure, or is pale and breathing slowly needs emergency medical treatment. At times these are not recognized by friends that are also drinking, which can result in accidental death by alcohol poisoning.

If you have experienced multiple episodes of binge drinking and want help, reach out today. It is never too late to prevent a tragedy.

College Binge Drinking Facts

College students are typically within the age group of continuing brain development. Full maturity may not be reached until 25 years of age. Before full brain maturity is reached, certain immature behaviors can happen, including excessive alcohol use. In a time of easy access to alcohol, less parenteral oversight, and being surrounded by peers, binge drinking in college can occur.

Almost 55% of college students aged 18-22 report drinking in the last month. Greater than 30% indulged in binge drinking at the same time. Almost 25% of students report adverse academic consequences from drinking while at college.

A 2014 article in the NY Times has asked the question “Why Colleges Haven’t Stopped Binge Drinking?”.  In this article, it is estimated that 40% of college students have reported engaging in binge drinking. In doing so, the goal is reported to be to blackout completely. This leads to the concerns that binge drinking is no longer accidental, but intentional.

Many colleges have come under scrutiny for not changing the drinking culture which exists on college campuses, especially as it relates to sports and the Greek system. Some have pointed to the fact that many college students begin their college experience already with unhealthy drinking habits.

Some experts have suggested discussions begin early in high school to help prevent unhealthy drinking practices. After age 35, the rate of binge drinking decreases dramatically.

Is Binge Drinking the Same as Alcoholism?

Binge drinking is not the same as alcoholism, however it does increase the risk. Binge drinking can very quickly increase the amount of alcohol inside the body. This is at times related to a desire to get drunk quickly. Alcoholism describes a dependence on alcohol.

One episode of drinking a large number of drinks in a short period of time can qualify as binge drinking. Alcoholism is more than a single instance of drinking. It describes a pattern of behaviors that someone engages in despite the risk. It is possible that an alcoholic engages in binge drinking, but not all binge drinkers are alcoholics.

Chronic binge drinking does raise the risk for an overlapping dependence on alcohol, leading to alcoholism. At times it can be hard to distinguish the difference between chronic binge drinking and alcoholism. Alcoholism is a set of behaviors that rotates around a dependence on alcohol. Binge drinking describes a particular way of drinking to get drunk.

If you regularly engage in binge drinking, you may be at risk of developing alcoholism as well as chronic liver disease. If you are concerned about your level of binge drinking it is best to reach out to determine if additional help is needed.

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