What is binge drinking?
It is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or higher, and it usually happens when a man drinks 5 or more drinks, or a woman has 4 or more drinks, over a two hour period.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, it’s the most common way in which people abuse alcohol in the United States, so common that more than half the alcohol consumed by adults in the U.S. is by way of binge drinking, and about 90% of alcohol consumed by people under age 21 is by binge drinking.
Lastly, know that binge drinking is not alcoholism. Unlike alcoholics, most binge drinkers are not dependent on alcohol.
Who is at risk for binge drinking?
1. Adults aged 18-34 years, particularly age 26 and older.
2. Those in households of $75,000.00 or more.
3. Male gender.
What are possible long term effects of binge drinking?
While the binge drinker may be the life of the party, know that that person is at risk for multiple organ damage. They are at risk for all of the following and more:
1. Accidents (e.g., car crashes, falls, drowning, burns)
2. Intentional injuries (domestic violence, sexual assault, firearm injuries)
3. Alcohol poisoning
4. Sexually transmitted diseases/infections
5. Unintended pregnancy
6. High blood pressure, stroke, other cardiovascular diseases
7. Sexual dysfunction
8. Poor control of diabetes
9. Worsening of emotional disorders like depression (e.g., suicidal tendencies)
10. Neurological damage
How can I prevent binge drinking in myself or loved ones?
1. Spread your drinks out over time. Remember, binge drinking is when one brings their blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 or above in a two hour period. Drink water between alcoholic drinks. Eat. Engage in other activities between drinks. Be social.
Have you ever laughed at, judged, or pitied someone who was very much intoxicated during the course of a night of partying? Now we know a little bit more about how the sad state that person was in that night could have lifelong consequences. Don’t let that someone be you. Be safe this New Year’s Eve. Happy Holidays!
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Dr. Kadisha Rapp is a board certified Emergency Medicine physician with over 10 years’ experience practicing Emergency Medicine in the urban and suburban areas of Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, Pa., Philadelphia, Pa., Houston, TX, and other cities. You can reach her at [email protected]. Her website is www.drkbrapp.com. Check out her Youtube channel at RappMDTV.