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What Is Binge Drinking Disorder?

Anne is a freelancer with a passion for writing and helping others by writing about important topics and issues.

Binge drinking is more common than many think, mostly because the definition of binge drinking is not as clearly defined as it should be.

Binge drinking is more common than many think, mostly because the definition of binge drinking is not as clearly defined as it should be.

What Is Binge Drinking?

We all know someone that likes to drink a glass of wine with dinner or unwind for the week with a couple of beers. But when does drinking become excessive? When does it become binge drinking? Binge drinking involves consuming large amounts of alcohol in a very short time period. According to the CDC, binge drinking is defined as, “consuming 5 or more drinks on an occasion for men and 4 or more drinks on an occasion for women” (CDC). When you think about those numbers, it doesn’t seem right. Are four drinks really what we would consider a “binge”, for a woman? What about outings and gatherings?

Are four drinks really too much? It really depends on the BAC, or blood alcohol content, and what type of alcoholic drink the person is consuming. Someone who has consumed four mixed liquor drinks is going to have a different BAC than someone who has consumed four beers. However, the CDC is clear in its definition of what binge drinking means.

Conflicting Opinions

Although the CDC offers a great amount of information on their website about binge drinking, I found it very interesting how the information was presented. Current statistics from the CDC explained that 1 in 6 adults binge drink, making it pretty commonplace in our society. However, they claim that most people who binge drink do not develop alcohol dependence or an alcohol use disorder. I disagree with this, and I think this is a very controversial statement.

When we look at the concept of binge drinking, in the social sense, yes, many people might consume four drinks at a party and not have any further issues. However, there are many people that go to alcohol for a release, for a way to take the edge off the stressors in their lives, and those are the people that need help with binge drinking disorder. I believe the CDC’s definition of binge drinking itself needs to be re-examined to include more realistic information. A binge, in my opinion, is much more than how many drinks someone consumes, it is also about the psychology and behavior behind that action. Once we do proper research into this disorder, I think we will have a much better understanding of why people binge drink in the first place. In order to effectively treat binge drinking, one must understand the underlying problems and issues that a person with this disorder may face.

Who Is Most Likely to Binge?

Young adults and teens are more likely to binge drink because they might not understand their tolerance level and consequences when overconsuming alcohol. Unfortunately, this is the way that many young people die, because they were unaware of just how far they had gone while intoxicated. However, binge drinking does not just impact young adults and teenagers; there are many adults that also have binge drinking disorder and struggle to stop drinking in these excessive amounts once they start.

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Young adults may have a more difficult time with binge drinking because it is harder for them to monitor their drinking patterns and understand the consequences of alcohol abuse.

Young adults may have a more difficult time with binge drinking because it is harder for them to monitor their drinking patterns and understand the consequences of alcohol abuse.

Consequences of Binge Drinking

According to the CDC, binge drinking can result in many different health conditions, including alcohol poisoning, memory and learning problems, high blood pressure, blood disease, and stroke. In addition, those who binge drink are more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as driving under the influence and having unprotected sex.

A Personal Story

From my own personal experience, I can tell you that in college, I allowed myself to binge drink on a regular basis. When I binged, I drank between 13–14 beers in the span of a few hours, feeling very sick well into the next day. I would just keep drinking and drinking. Part of it for me was social pressure; I felt I had to keep up with everyone else around me at the party. Another part was psychological, as I felt I could be brave and silence the anxiety and other nervous thoughts in my head. There was also a chemical dependence; a physical feeling that I liked, almost like being numb to everything around me. There are so many layers to binge drinking. The worst and most terrible episode of binge drinking in my life was the day that I drank a handle of rum all by myself and got alcohol poisoning. I got very sick, and I could have died, but mentally, I wasn’t thinking about these consequences during the binge. The problem is the action of binge drinking, the urge to do it can be so strong and intense that you forget exactly what could happen to you.

SAMSHA is a great resource for those looking for information and help with substance abuse disorders, including alcoholism and binge drinking.

SAMSHA is a great resource for those looking for information and help with substance abuse disorders, including alcoholism and binge drinking.

What We Need To Do

Unfortunately, many people have died from alcohol poisoning due to binge drinking, and I believe in many of these situations, not enough was done to help the person before they died. You hear stories of college kids partying, people not keeping track of how their friend is doing, and just assuming they are really trashed. The next morning, they are dead. This is why research and studies in binge drinking and the patterns of social drinking need to be more prominent in today’s society, especially given that alcohol is a legal substance that people have access to and willingly abuse in our society. Only once we learn more about this behavior and the reasons behind it will we be able to effectively treat it and help prevent further deaths from binge drinking disorder. If you or anyone you know has a substance abuse or alcohol abuse problem, call the SAMSHA helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Sources

“Binge Drinking.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6 Jan. 2022, https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2022 Anne Marie Carr

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