Binge drinking is the most common form of excessive drinking, with more than 90% of American adults surveyed admitting to binge drinking. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that as many as one in six adults in the U.S. binge drink. 25% of those adults binge drink every week. Even though binge drinking is a severe condition, it’s also preventable.
Binge drinking is most common among young adults between 18 and 34. Men are twice as likely to binge drink than women. People with lower education and income levels are even more likely to drink alcohol excessively.
What is Binge Drinking?
Binge drinking happens when individuals consume enough alcohol in a single period to raise their blood-alcohol level beyond the legal limit. Typically, this is about five drinks within two hours for males and four for women in the same time frame.
A standard serving of an alcoholic beverage varies based on the type of alcohol consumed and each drink’s alcohol content. The guideline is:
- 12 ounces of regular beer at 5% alcohol content
- 8-9 ounces of malt alcohol at 7% alcohol content
- 5 ounces of wine at 12% alcohol content
- 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits (gin, rum, tequila, vodka, whiskey, etc.) at 40% alcohol content
Effects of Binge Drinking
Binge drinking has both health and economic costs. According to the CDC, the United States spends about $249 billion annually on lost work productivity, health care expenses, legal fees, and other costs related to excessive drinking. More than three-quarters of that amount, about $191 billion, is linked to binge drinking.
Health-wise, binge drinking can increase a person’s risk of many chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and liver disease, in addition to a variety of cancers. Binge drinking can also cause memory trouble and impaired brain function.
Excessive drinking can raise a person’s risk of unintentional injuries from accidents or falls. Evidence shows that alcohol can play a role in:
- 40% of fatal highway crashes, suicides, and deadly falls
- 50% of sexual assaults and trauma injuries
- 60% of all fatal fires, drownings, and homicides
The risk of violence can also increase with drinking, particularly excessive alcohol consumption. In addition to becoming more violent, individuals who binge drink may encounter situations that increase their risk of becoming victims of violence.
Four Ways to Stop Binge Drinking
A person’s reason for binge drinking may vary, but there are certain things anyone can try if they want to stop this pattern of behavior. If someone suspects they have a problem with binge drinking, it is always a good idea to reach out to a medical professional for advice and guidance. Four practical ways to stop binge drinking include:
- Determining the reason for binge drinking is often a good starting point. Consulting with a therapist or counselor can help identify problematic behaviors or situations leading to binge drinking. The person can then develop coping mechanisms through therapy.
- Getting out of environments that encourage binge drinking. A second option is to remove themselves from the environment where they most often binge drink. Visiting a bar or restaurant where they regularly drink to excess can prompt the individual to binge on alcohol. Avoiding the locations where they most often binge drink may help the individual cut back or reduce the urge to consume alcohol excessively.
- Abstaining from alcohol altogether. This choice may be the best option if someone finds themselves unable to stop after one or two drinks. Maintaining abstinence may be easier if family and friends offer support. The person may also want to reward themselves when they reach specific goals. Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA, can be a valuable source of support for someone who opts for this route.
- Enrolling in a detox program. A rehab center can help individuals safely detox by offering assistance in managing their withdrawal symptoms. These facilities can help the person stop drinking, but they can also provide a resource for medication and therapy to help the person maintain their long-term recovery.
Rising Phoenix provides a safe, welcoming, and nurturing environment where people can overcome addiction challenges. Here, people aren’t judged. Instead, they are embraced throughout their recovery process. Contact us if you or someone you know is struggling with binge drinking. Our team is ready and willing to help.