Binge Drinking

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY KAYLA LOIBL | LAST EDITED:  MARCH 18 ,
2021 
| 3 SOURCES


Binge drinking occurs when an individual consumes an excessive amount of alcohol, usually with the intent of becoming drunk, or drinking continuously during an evening or in some cases over a period of days or weeks.

To binge means drinking more than two-thirds of a bottle of wine for a woman or more than four pints of beer for a man in a single sitting.

Teenage binge drinking is another matter. It takes less alcohol for teens to become intoxicated and to experience the problems associated with excessive drinking. They are also more likely to engage in risky behavior when under the influence.

Someone who regularly consumes alcohol may also binge on occasion, or binging may occur without regular drinking. Drinkers may experience withdrawal symptoms following a binge.

Binging on alcohol can cause alcohol poisoning, coma, or even death. Respiratory failure is a possibility, or death can occur due to inhaling vomit. In the long term, binging on alcohol can cause liver disease and heart disease, as well as other problems.

In fact, binging regularly increases the chances of an early death from a wide variety of causes. In particular it increases the chance of a heart attack in the day or two immediately following the binge.

Teenagers

Teenage binge drinking is particularly a problem. Many young people do not drink regularly but binge on weekends or at parties. It is a fact that people in their late teens and early twenties consume more alcohol than any other age group.

Also, college students are more likely to binge on alcohol than their peers who do not attend college.

Teenage binging on alcohol in particular is linked to drunk driving incidents, violent behavior, and trouble with the law. Teens who binge may have difficulty getting along with family members, poor performance at school, and rocky relationships with many of their peers.

Teens may not perceive their drinking to be a problem since they may not drink that often. They are often unaware of the risks involved with binging.

Their parents may not even be aware of the risks - they may simply be glad their teen only drinks on the weekend. Education is definitely in order.

What Triggers Binge Drinking?

Binge drinking may be triggered by a variety of things.

  • Large portion sizes served at bars and restaurants, 
  • lower prices for alcoholic drinks,
  •  lack of community restraints on alcohol availability such as restrictive hours or zoning laws all contribute to more people drinking excessively.

A particular individual who drinks may only binge once in awhile but any regular drinker is also more likely to binge from time to time than non-drinkers - despite social acceptance that accompanies normal drinking habits.

Excessive alcohol consumption does lead to problems on its own and it is linked to many crimes including domestic violence and sexual assault. It can interfere with work and relationships and cause damage to personal property as well as increasing the chance of serious injury due to car crashes or fights after consuming too much alcohol.

Generally speaking, binging on alcohol is not a good idea. Just one occasion can be dangerous - but it can also lead to problems with health and relationships in the long term as well as increase the risk of accidents. It is best not to drink that much at all if possible.

binge-drinking

Treatment For Binge Drinking

Treatment for binging on alcohol should include a medical assessment to see if physical withdrawal symptoms are present. If this is the case, alcohol detoxification will be required. Detoxification should be done under medical supervision.

In addition, immediate medical attention may be necessary to treat problems such as alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal if not treated.

Treatment usually involves a combination of things. Medical care may be needed in order to treat withdrawal symptoms and any physical illness such as liver disease caused by excessive alcohol consumption.

Individual and group counseling can both be helpful, as well as a twelve-step program such as AA (Alcoholics Anonymous). Education about alcohol abuse and addiction is needed. Psychiatric care may also be necessary to treat any depression or anxiety issues.

Again, education is important because many binge drinkers don’t realize they have a problem and do not consider seeking treatment.

Inpatient care may be needed, particularly if medical treatment is required or if drinking is severe. In other cases, outpatient treatment will suffice. An assessment with a professional in the field of alcohol and drug treatment can make a determination of the best level of care.

Teenagers that binge on alcohol should be treated at a treatment center geared specifically to adolescents. Teens have unique issues that must be addressed and a treatment program designed for adults may not adequately treat binging in teens.

The recovery process can be a lengthy one, but with proper treatment the binger can recover.

How to Prevent Binge Drinking

Clearly the best way to prevent binge drinking is not to drink at all or very little. People who choose to drink should stick with low-alcohol drinks and stick within the recommended weekly alcohol consumption levels.

Drinkers should never drive a car after drinking even if their driving ability seems intact. Alcohol can affect judgment and coordination and does not mix well with driving at all.

It is also possible that drinkers may want to avoid peer pressure situations such as parties where people tend to drink excessively more than normal. Drinking buddies may insist on trying to 'catch up' but it is unwise for anyone, young or old, male or female, regular or occasional drinker, not to resist this pressure.

There are programs available to help prevent abusive drinking behaviors. Please reach out to a dedicated treatment provider today to know more about alcoholism and the treatment programs and options available to alcoholics.


More than teenage binge drinking on our teenage alcoholism page

Alcoholism home page

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 

I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LPC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More