The Issues with Drinking to Excess
Table of Contents
- The Issues with Drinking to Excess
- What Is Binge Drinking?
- Alcoholism vs Binge Drinking
- Causes and Risk Factors of Heavy Drinking
- Risk Factors for Binge Drinking Alcohol
- What are the Side Effects of Binge Drinking
- Developing an Alcohol Tolerance
- Alcohol Dependence
- Stop Problem Drinking with Support
- Why You Should Reduce Your Alcohol Intake
- Warning Signs for Alcohol Abuse Disorders
- Alcohol Rehab
- Components of Alcohol Use Disorder Therapy
- Does Health Insurance Cover Rehabilitation Costs?
- FAQs on Binge Drinking
- Help for Alcohol Use: Found Here
- Medically Reviewed By
Alcohol consumption during social events and celebrations is a part of our culture in America. Although occasional drinking usually has no definitive long-term effects, regular excessive alcohol consumption can lead to abuse and addiction.
If you or someone you love is battling alcohol abuse, it’s essential to remember that there’s always support available at a caring rehab center. You can make the changes necessary to recover from alcoholism, no matter how long you have struggled or how bad it has gotten.
With one in six American adults binge drinking approximately four times each month, binge drinking is a common health risk for people who use alcohol. Binge drinking may not be as serious as alcoholism, but it can be a warning sign of alcohol use disorder (AUD).
Read on to gain insight into the problem and learn how to overcome problem drinking!
What Is Binge Drinking?
Binge drinking is a drinking session that raises a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08% or higher.
However, what does this entail? Let us take a look at an easier-to-grasp definition of what precisely this kind of drinking entails.
Binge Drinking Definition
Binge drinking usually happens when a male consumes five or more drinks in approximately two hours or when a female has four or more drinks in the same period. It is a precursor to alcohol use disorders and the most common and lethal form of excessive alcohol use in the United States.
An alcoholic drink in this definition is considered as:
- A 12-ounce beer.
- A 5-ounce glass of wine
- A 1.5-ounce shot of distilled liquor
Binge drinking harms one’s health and can lead to potentially fatal consequences. Even though binge drinking can have profound implications, it is vital to distinguish between it and alcoholism.
Alcoholism vs Binge Drinking
Although binge drinking can cause health issues, most people who engage in it do not suffer from a severe alcohol use disorder.
Alcoholism is a chronic disease characterized by an individual’s inability to regulate alcohol use and reliance on alcohol to deal with everyday stresses. Conversely, binge drinking is often a one-off occurrence.
Although binge drinking is dangerous and can lead to health problems, alcoholism is more concerning because it can lead to emotional, social, physical, and professional problems. These issues can have far-reaching consequences that affect the drinker and those close to them.
Causes and Risk Factors of Heavy Drinking
Binge drinking may be a result of multiple social and psychological causes, such as
- Socializing or living in a drinking environment like a college dorm
- Easy access to cheap alcoholic beverages
- Peer pressure and boredom
- Lack of coping skills
- Having a traumatic experience
- Poor academic aspirations
- Depressive and anxiety disorders
Risk Factors for Binge Drinking Alcohol
Binge drinking is twice as common in men as in women. Young adults between 18 and 34 binge drink the most, and men account for over 80% of these binge drinkers, putting them at a greater risk for various health issues.
It is also essential to note that families with incomes over $75,000 and those with higher levels of education are more likely to engage in this form of drinking.
Binge Drinking Among College Students
College students are a population that frequently engages in binge drinking.
Unfortunately, excessive drinking is detrimental to health. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA) reports that alcohol-related causes and binge drinking accounted for more than 1500 college students and young adults aged 18 to 24. Other than mortality, binge drinking also increases the risk of physical and sexual assault, poor performance in school, and the development of an addiction.
People who binge drink in college may mistakenly assume they are high-functioning alcoholics because they can still manage their studies and extracurricular activities. But excessive alcohol use is a risky road that can cause significant emotional, professional, and social problems that can have a devastating effect on one’s life.
What are the Side Effects of Binge Drinking
Binge drinking can lead to many undesirable outcomes. Consuming any amount of alcohol can have adverse effects on your health, including:
- Increased risk of developing liver issues
- Binge drinking raises blood pressure
- Higher risk of stroke
- Digestive problems
- Increased risk of cancer
Why Is Binge Drinking Dangerous?
Drinking too much alcohol in a short period increases the risk of developing health issues, such as liver disease and cirrhosis, high blood pressure, irregular pulse, and increased risk of heart attack.
Not only can this form of heavy drinking lead to the issues mentioned above, but it can also lead to other problems such as:
- Unintentional injuries from falls and car crashes
- Alcohol poisoning
- Increased risk for physical or sexual violence
- Higher possibility of contracting STDs
- Learning disabilities
- Memory issues
People who binge drink regularly also develop another significant problem: alcohol use disorder. If you or a loved one suffers from alcoholism, call us now at 877-941-2705 to get started with recovery.
Can You Binge Drink Occasionally?
Occasional binge drinking can harm your health. Although alcohol intoxication is always dangerous, measures one can take to promote alcohol safety include:
- Keeping alcohol intake to a minimum on any given occasion
- Spread drinks out during the week, rather than drinking heavily in one session
- Schedule multiple alcohol-free days per week
- Stay hydrated and eat between drinks
- Never drink alcohol on an empty stomach
Developing an Alcohol Tolerance
Drinking habits may change over time, leading to more frequent or heavier consumption. As one’s tolerance to alcohol grows, the risk of alcohol dependence increases. That can suggest you have built up a tolerance to alcohol. However, reducing alcohol consumption can help you overcome alcohol tolerance and lessen the likelihood of experiencing significant health consequences.
Your brain receptors will develop a tolerance to alcohol if you drink regularly. This means you have to drink more alcohol to achieve the same effect. Even if you can handle the short-term symptoms, that doesn’t mean the long-term threats to your health are reduced. You may be putting yourself in danger since you may not realize how much alcohol you have consumed.
You may be developing a dependency on alcohol if you find that your alcohol tolerance is increasing. When dependent on alcohol, you may believe you can’t go out and have fun without drinking alcohol. You may also be unable to control your drinking after a few drinks.
The gradual rise in drinking and the possibility that you feel good both contribute to the fact that you may not recognize them as symptoms of alcohol dependence.
Stop Problem Drinking with Support
If you are worried about your or a loved one’s drinking habits, there are various ways to overcome regular excess drinking.
Below are steps to help reduce your alcohol intake:
- Create a Strategy – Preparation is the key to preventing the impromptu alcoholic beverages that often lead to binge drinking. Try limiting drinking to only on the weekends, and even then, only have two or three alcoholic drinks. Creating and keeping to such a strategy can help reduce the likelihood that you will start drinking more frequently than you anticipate.
- Inform Your Loved Ones – Telling your friends and family about your decision to reduce your alcohol consumption will serve two purposes: first, they can help keep you accountable, and second, you’ll feel more committed to following through on your decision. You may also get additional help from friends and family members who decide to join you in your endeavor.
- Don’t Fight Alone – A binge drinking issue may be more severe than you think, so don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. If you’ve tried to quit on your own but still have problems, it may be time to seek our support by attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting or enrolling in an inpatient treatment program.
Getting expert help is your best bet if you’re trying to deal with a drinking issue that you fear has progressed to alcoholism.
Tips to Help You Reduce Drinking
Follow the practical tips below to help you drink less alcohol:
- Schedule drink-free days
- Know your limit
- Set goals and track progress
- Plan to avoid drinking triggers
- Be proactive and stick to your plan
- Try non-alcoholic or low-alcohol drinks
Why You Should Reduce Your Alcohol Intake
From having a good night’s sleep and improved skin health to increased energy and time, reducing alcohol offers various health benefits. When you reduce your alcohol use, you’ll likely notice improvements in your appearance and mood within just a few days. Meanwhile, you’ll lower your long-term risk of cancer, liver disease, heart disease, and other fatal health risks.
Here are some benefits of reducing alcohol use.
Alcohol disrupts the natural sleep cycle. Alcohol consumption reduces the time spent in the deep, restorative sleep stages. When you drink, you may also wake up early in the morning and have challenges falling back to sleep. Cutting back on alcohol should improve your sleep quality, which can boost your mood and enhance your capacity for focus.
When consumed in excess, alcohol can amplify negative emotional responses to stress and anxiety. Because alcohol affects the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, it can harm one’s emotional well-being. If you want to feel happier more often, cutting back on alcohol may help. Get into the habit of maintaining a journal detailing your feelings and see if you discover any changes.
Too much alcohol has detrimental effects on sleep and emotions, so it can leave you feeling drained and down sluggish. Reduce your water intake, and you may quickly feel more energized.
Alcohol might impair your performance at work even if you don’t have a hangover. Concentration and productivity suffer when alcohol consumption exceeds the low-risk drinking guidelines of no more than 14 units per week for men and women. Reduced stress and improved work-life balance benefit from cutting back on alcoholic beverages.
Skin becomes drab and gray from alcohol dehydration. However, you may see improvements in your skin’s appearance after as little as two days of cutting back on your alcohol consumption.
Alcoholic beverages like beer and wine are high in calories, and two glasses of wine contain 318 calories. Limiting your alcohol intake is a sensible strategy for losing weight, and you will notice a weight reduction when you restrict your calorie consumption.
Heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome, and gastritis are just a few of the stomach and digestive issues that can be exacerbated by drinking too much alcohol. Your digestive system should improve when you cut back.
More Time for Healthy Hobbies
Reducing your alcohol consumption may require you to alter your routine if you usually drink at specific times, locations, or with particular individuals. Doing something out of the ordinary with your time can help you find new passions and make new friends, and it may also help you save a few bucks.
Take days off from drinking to try something new and lower your alcohol consumption.
Long-Term Health Benefits
If you want to lower your chance of cancer, liver problems, and heart disease, you should reduce your alcohol use. It may also lower your blood pressure.
You may not be able to see the difference you’re making, but by drinking moderately, you can be confident you’re improving your long-term health.
Warning Signs for Alcohol Abuse Disorders
There are various causes and forms of alcohol misuse. With careful intake management, you can enjoy alcohol without endangering your health. Evaluate your drinking habits if you experience any of the following:
- Struggling to moderate your drinking
- Taking multiple drinks daily
- Increased tolerance to alcohol
- Being defensive when questioned about your drinking
- Drowsiness or sickness when sober
- Drunkenness leads to dangerous choices
If you identify with any of these signs, you may use alcohol to cope with stressful situations.
A person has an alcohol use disorder if they cannot control their drinking and experience withdrawal symptoms when sober. Most alcoholics think they need the willpower to stop drinking, yet alcoholism is a chronic neurologic illness. Because alcohol use alters brain function, quitting can be challenging.
Deciding to get help for alcohol use disorder is a crucial step. Before settling on a particular therapy, it’s essential to understand AUD treatment options. It would be best if you had a comprehensive treatment plan that tackles other mental health disorders.
Most alcoholism treatment plans include:
- Medical Detox: Alcohol detox is the first and most challenging step due to withdrawal symptoms. It involves medical supervision and medications to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and prevent a recurrence.
- Inpatient Rehab: The most structured approach to treating alcoholism is through an inpatient rehabilitation program. Inpatient rehab centers treat severe cases of alcoholism and require patients to live at the facility.
- Counseling: Patients can open up to alcohol counselors and share their experiences and progress during treatment. Counseling helps unearth the underlying issues that lead to alcohol dependence.
Patients in outpatient programs can get treatment without staying away from home. Outpatient treatment allows you to keep up with home, school, or work responsibilities.
Components of Alcohol Use Disorder Therapy
When treating alcoholics, doctors often pursue one of two paths:
- Counseling: Psychologists can teach patients coping strategies and techniques to help them cut back or quit drinking. Treatment choices range from working with an individual therapist to engaging in group therapy sessions.
- Medications: Doctors may prescribe addiction-free medications to ease the discomfort of withdrawal and prevent relapse.
Rehab Levels of Care
The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) categorizes alcohol treatment into four tiers, or intensities, of care:
- Outpatient Care: Outpatient rehabilitation entails regular visits to a clinic or hospital for either therapy or medicine.
- Partial Hospitalization or Intensive Outpatient: This outpatient treatment caters to patients with more complex medical requirements.
- Inpatient or Residential Rehab: Patients in residential rehabilitation programs can expect varying degrees of care during their stay.
- Intensive Inpatient Care: When someone is in an intensive inpatient program, they are under constant observation and can receive assistance with withdrawal symptoms at any time.
What care level is best for you or a family member? Finding the best SUD program requires thoroughly evaluating the person needing treatment.
Plan for the transition by:
- Thinking back on why you want to make the change.
- Consider whatever prior attempts you’ve made to fight alcoholism and note what worked and didn’t.
- Establish measurable milestones, such as a start date or a limit on alcohol consumption.
- Eliminate all the triggers you’ll find at home, work, and places you frequently visit.
Residential Rehabilitation Programs or Inpatient Treatment
Patients with severe alcohol addiction or substance abuse disorders should seek treatment in an inpatient rehabilitation center. This is especially necessary for those patients dealing with other mental health disorders simultaneously.
By entering an inpatient alcohol addiction treatment program, you can remove yourself from the environments that may trigger your drinking. Putting yourself in a calm and structured setting can hasten your recovery.
In licensed inpatient institutions, patients have constant access to support and intensive care. Inpatient programs prepare patients for life after treatment by teaching them the skills they need to remain sober. Patients usually transition from intensive inpatient care to less restrictive outpatient therapy.
Short-term and long-term approaches to residential rehabilitation may work depending on the severity of the SUD. The average stay in long-term residential facilities is between six months and a year, whereas the average stay in short-term facilities is between three and six weeks.
Does Health Insurance Cover Rehabilitation Costs?
The cost of rehab often deters most people from seeking help for addiction. The cost of alcohol rehab care may vary widely because of the vast range of treatment settings and options.
Most insurance providers will cover most, if not all, of your medical expenses during rehabilitation. Alcohol treatment centers will check your policy data to ascertain how much coverage you have. People frequently use different insurance and funding sources to cover their recovery costs.
Depending on your policy’s specifics, insurance may contribute toward the price of alcohol and drug treatment. There is always a way to seek alcoholism treatment, even if your health insurance doesn’t cover it. Rehabilitation centers often offer flexible payment plans and other forms of financial aid for added convenience.
FAQs on Binge Drinking
What is binge drinking?
This refers to drinking alcohol that raises the blood alcohol concentration to 0.08% or more.
Can binge drinking affect anyone?
Yes. Binge drinking affects all age groups and genders, but its frequency reduces with age.
Is binge drinking the same as an Alcohol Use Disorder or Alcoholism?
No. An AUD is a chronic illness that causes patients to lose control over their alcohol consumption.
Can you prevent binge drinking and its adverse health effects?
According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, you should consume alcohol in moderation if you choose to drink. Limiting your alcohol intake to two or fewer drinks a day reduces the harmful effects of alcohol on your health.
Help for Alcohol Use: Found Here
In contrast to AUDs, binge drinking is not recognized as a mental health disorder. However, problems with your health and your quality of life can arise from either drinking practice.
When unwelcome drinking habits are addressed early on, treatment is more effective. So don’t wait until your drinking has become out of hand to get treatment. A healthcare professional in a rehabilitation center will help you deal with your history of alcoholism or interrupt the cycle of binge drinking.
Find Addiction Rehabs can help you locate an alcohol treatment center near you. These facilities offer comprehensive programs to help people beat addiction and other harmful behaviors, such as binge drinking, using a variety of behavioral and experiential therapies.
Overcome alcoholism by finding treatment today!
Deborah Tayloe is a freelance writer specializing in health and sciences. Deborah earned a B.S.Ed. in Secondary Education/English, accompanied by a Spanish minor. Her writing expertise allows her to craft engaging, impactful articles to help people be well.
In addition, she holds a fully accredited Certificate of Natural Medicine and is a certified Herbalist. Through her understanding of complementary medicine, Deborah helps medical professionals give people the information they need to embrace natural approaches to wellness.
When she’s not working, Deborah trains for 5K races and advocates for animal rights.