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What Is Binge Drinking?

Binge drinking is the practice of consuming a large quantity of alcohol over a short period of time, often with the goal of becoming intoxicated. Although some may binge drink alone, it is often a social activity. Binge drinking is commonly defined as the consumption of five or more drinks on one occasion for males and four or more drinks on one occasion for females or seniors. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) currently defines one to be intoxicated from binge drinking if his or her blood alcohol concentration reaches 0.08% or higher.

Binge drinking is an increasingly prevalent health and social problem. Although it is not limited to any specific demographic, some people may be more likely to binge drink than others. Men are more likely to binge drink than women, and adolescents and young adults are more likely to binge drink than older adults.

Consequences of Binge Drinking

There are a number of adverse effects that may be associated with binge drinking, including the following:

  • Alcohol poisoning – Alcohol poisoning may lead to overdose, which can be fatal.
  • Health emergencies – Binge drinking can increase one’s risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.
  • Suicide – Adolescents who binge drink may be more likely to commit suicide than their sober peers.
  • Violence – Male binge drinkers may be more likely to physically harm or assault others as a result of alcohol use.
  • Accidents – Especially among adolescents, binge drinking can increase the risk of causing or suffering accidents, including traffic accidents, bicycle accidents and falls.
  • HIV infection – Binge drinking can increase one’s risk of contracting an HIV infection. This may be partially explained by the fact that binge drinking is often associated with higher rates of unprotected and unplanned sexual activity.
  • Cost to society – Binge drinking does not only cost the drinkers but costs society at large. A 2011 study by the Centers for Disease Control found that binge drinking costs society $223 billion per year, about $2 per drink. These costs can include health care, property damage, legal and criminal costs and loss of productivity.

Finding Help for Binge Drinking

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse, please call our toll-free helpline now. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions about binge drinking. We can also help you check your health insurance coverage and find the best treatment option for your situation. Please call now.