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Binge Drinking: Dangers, Risks, and Prevention

Alcohol is widely used throughout society; however, some people misuse alcohol and have a difficult time managing their alcohol use.

Binge drinking is a common pattern of alcohol misuse that millions of people across the country struggle with. In 2021, out of 133.1 million users, 60 million (45.1% people) engaged in binge drinking behavior.1 The percentage of binge drinkers was the highest among young adults between the ages of 18 to 29 years old in 2021.1 The percentage of binge drinkers was lowest among adolescents between the ages of 12 to 17 in 2021.1

Binge drinking can lead to serious consequences, so it’s important to learn the facts and risk factors of binge drinking, and how you can get help if you are struggling.

What Is Binge Drinking?

Binge drinking is a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings alcohol concentration (BAC) to .08 percent or higher.2 In other words, binge drinking references a specific pattern of excessive alcohol consumption.

For an average adult, binge drinking equates to:2

  • Roughly 4 or more drinks for women in 2 hours.
  • About 5 or more drinks for men in 2 hours.
  • Fewer drinks in the same timespan for youth—3 to 5 drinks for boys and roughly 3 drinks for girls; these numbers can change based on size and age.

It is important to note that binge drinking is not the same as alcohol addiction, which is also referred to as alcohol use disorder (AUD). Alcohol use disorder is diagnosed on a spectrum that includes mild, moderate, and severe.3 Alcohol use disorder is characterized as an inability to stop drinking alcohol despite alcohol causing significant impairment in your ability to function in areas of life, including at home, at work, and in relationships.3, 4

Who Binge Drinks?

Research shows that the following groups of people have a higher risk of engaging in binge drinking behavior:4

  • Being female
  • Having a household income of $75,000 or more
  • Being a young adult between the ages of 18 to 29 years old
  • Living in the Midwest

High-density drinking over time is also a risk factor for developing alcohol use disorder.3

Dangers of Binge Drinking

Common dangers of binge drinking include:2

  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) due to poor decision-making as alcohol can impair your judgment.
  • Violent behavior including homicide, physical abuse, suicide, and sexual abuse.
  • Falls, injuries, and car accidents.
  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs).
  • Chronic diseases and health effects such as heart and liver disease, cancer, stroke, and high blood pressure.
  • Learning and memory problems.
  • Miscarriage and stillbirth during pregnancy.
  • Alcohol poisoning, which can result in death.

Statistics on the dangers of high-intensity drinking are:

  • 46% of deaths related to alcohol misuse were attributed to binge drinking between 2011 to 2015.2
  • Just one incident of binge drinking can weaken your immune system.2

Alcohol poisoning, which is caused by heavy drinking of alcohol in a short time, can lead to death.6 It is estimated that 2,300 people die every year as a result of alcohol poisoning.2 High-intensity drinking can increase your risk of alcohol overdose.2, 6

Treatment for Alcohol Misuse

If you find yourself binge drinking regularly or are having a hard time managing your drinking, help is available to you. Alcohol addiction treatment offers multiple treatment options and treatment settings that are based on your unique circumstances and recovery goals.

Common treatment settings include inpatient and outpatient treatment centers that may offer various services from detox to aftercare.5

Common interventions for alcohol misuse and AUD include:5

  • Detoxification.
  • Behavioral therapy.
  • Medication.
  • 12-Step/mutual support groups.
  • Family therapy.

At American Addiction Centers (AAC), we understand the importance of providing safe and effective alcohol addiction treatment. We have treatment facilities across the country with programs focused on providing individualized treatment plans to best support you. Call to speak with a compassionate admissions navigator who is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Our admissions navigators can help you locate a treatment center and even check your insurance coverage. Your call will remain completely confidential. Don’t wait to get the help you deserve. Call AAC today.

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