What is Binge Drinking

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited:  MARCH 28 ,
| 3 Sources

You may wonder what is binge drinking and what are the dangers of binge drinking. Binge drinking is defined as drinking a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time, usually five drinks for men and four drinks for women in the space of an hour. However, that’s not a hard and fast rule. To put it simply, if you have several drinks in a row, it can be considered what is binge drinking.

When you are drinking, you should remember the following: one drink is a 12-ounce beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, a 10-ounce wine cooler, or a 1.5-ounce shot of hard liquor. Mixed drinks may contain more than one serving of alcohol.

Your body can metabolize, or process, one drink per hour. That means it takes one hour for each drink you’ve had to get sober. If you engage in what is binge drinking, you will remain intoxicated for several hours.

While some people believe that things like drinking black coffee, eating a meal, or taking a cold shower will help them sober up faster, those things don’t really work; only time can eliminate the alcohol from your system.

We should point out one more thing. You often hear about college students binge drinking, and it’s true that binge drinking peaks between the ages of 18 and 22. However, 70% of all binge drinking episodes involve adults over the age of 25.


Dangers of Binge Drinking

There are numerous risks of binge drinking. The greatest is alcohol poisoning, a serious condition that can result in death. Alcohol poisoning occurs when the blood alcohol concentration rises too high.

Since the body can only metabolize about one drink per hour, when a person binge drinks, the body can become overwhelmed and alcohol poisoning can result.

Symptoms of alcohol poisoning include confusion, low body temperature, vomiting, unconsciousness, slow or irregular breathing, and seizures. It impairs the gag reflex, so a person can choke on their vomit. A person with symptoms of alcohol poisoning needs immediate medical attention. Untreated, the condition can result in death.

Alcohol poisoning is not the only danger of binge drinking. The dangers of binge drinking include long-term health risks, such as:

  • stomach ulcers, 
  • liver damage, 
  • cardiovascular disease, and
  •  neurological damage.

And health risks are not the only dangers of binge drinking. Those who have been drinking excessively are prone to accidents such as falls. It is extremely dangerous if they attempt to drive. Alcohol-related violence is a serious concern.

Increased rates of both homicides and suicides have been linked to what is binge dinking.

Drinking Safely

Remember, alcohol is a drug. To drink safely, avoid binge drinking. Doctors recommend no more than two dinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. Refer to the amount of alcohol that consists of “one drink” listed above.

There is no way to safely become intoxicated. You cannot binge drink safely. You will put yourself at risk for all of the dangers of binge drinking discussed above.

Since alcohol is a drug, be especially careful about mixing it with other drugs. This includes legal drugs, such as prescription drugs and even over the counter medications. For instance, mixing alcohol with acetaminophen (found in pain relievers and fever reducers such as Tylenol) can cause liver damage.

If you’ve been drinking, make sure you’ve had time to sober up before you attempt to drive. Remember, that’s one hour for each drink you’ve had. Drinking clouds your judgment, so even if you feel OK to drive sooner, you’re not. Alternatively, identify a “designated driver” who will abstain from drinking altogether, or call a cab. 

More than what is binge drinking on our binge drinking statistics 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