Binge drinking may be common, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Lots of people smoke too, but we know how dangerous that is for your health. According to a 2019 report, 1 in 7 adults in New Mexico binge drinks an average of five times a month, which has a number of negative repercussions, as we’ll discuss..
New Mexico also had the highest alcohol-related death rate in the nation in 2019. There were 73.8 deaths per 100,000 people, and that was more than twice the national rate. In total, there were 1,587 alcohol-related deaths across the entire state.
In the United States, binge drinking is most common among men, young adults ages 18-34, and those who have higher household incomes.
If you do choose to binge drink, it can pose a number of risks you should be aware of. Let’s take a look at the dangers of binge drinking and how to avoid it.
What Is Binge Drinking?
While binge drinking is a common term, you may not be familiar with what it really is.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Binge drinking is the most common, costly, and deadly pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States. Binge drinking is defined as consuming five or more drinks on an occasion for men or four or more drinks on an occasion for women.
Most people who binge drink do not have a severe alcohol use disorder. However, binge drinking is a harmful risk behavior associated with serious injuries and multiple diseases. It is also associated with an increased risk of alcohol use disorder.”
Binge drinking has been known to contribute to/increase the risk of:
- Unintentional injuries such as auto accidents, falls, alcohol poisoning, and burns
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
- Violent acts
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Liver disease
- Problems with memory
- Problems with learning
Here in the United States, billions of binge drinks are consumed every year, according to the CDC. More specifically:
- 17 billion total binge drinks are consumed by adults annually. That equates to 467 binge drinks per adult who binge drinks.
- 80% of binge drinks are consumed by men
- 50% of binge drinks are consumed by adults 35 and older
- 25% of adults in the United States who binge drink consume at least eight drinks during a binge occasion
- Most people younger than 21 who drink alcohol report binge drinking
It cannot be stressed enough: Refraining from drinking is the easiest way to avoid binge drinking. However, drinking in moderation is an option if you do not want to abstain from alcohol completely.
Binge Drinking May Lead to Alcohol Poisoning
If you believe someone has alcohol poisoning, dial 911 immediately.
Drinking too much, especially binge drinking, can put you at a higher risk of alcohol poisoning.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Alcohol poisoning is a serious — and sometimes deadly — consequence of drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time. Drinking too much too quickly can affect your breathing, heart rate, body temperature and gag reflex and potentially lead to a coma and death. Alcohol poisoning can also occur when adults or children accidentally or intentionally drink household products that contain alcohol. A person with alcohol poisoning needs immediate medical attention. If you suspect someone has alcohol poisoning, call for emergency medical help right away.”
Signs of alcohol poisoning include:
- Irregular breathing
- Slow breathing
- Bluish tint to skin or lips
- Passing out
- Low body temperature
If you’re around someone who has alcohol poisoning, the National Institutes of Health says, “Do not wait for the person to have all the symptoms, and be aware that a person who has passed out can die. Don’t play doctor — cold showers, hot coffee, and walking do not reverse the effects of alcohol overdose and could actually make things worse.
- Be prepared to provide information to the responders, including the type and amount of alcohol the person drank; other drugs he or she took, if known; and any health information that you know about the person, such as medications currently taking, allergies to medications, and any existing health conditions.
- Do not leave an intoxicated person alone, as he or she is at risk of getting injured from falling or choking. Keep the person on the ground in a sitting or partially upright position rather than in a chair.
- Help a person who is vomiting. Have him or her lean forward to prevent choking. If a person is unconscious or lying down, roll him or her onto one side with an ear toward the ground to prevent choking.”
Binge Drinking Can Lead to Alcohol Use Disorder
Binge drinking may put you at a higher risk of developing alcohol use disorder.
The University of Rochester Medical Center says, “Young people who often engage in binge drinking are more likely to develop a drinking problem. About 20% of college students fit the pattern of having alcohol use disorder. This is ongoing drinking that may be accompanied by some of these problems:
- Not following through on major work, school, or home responsibilities. About 1 in 4 college students report academic problems caused by drinking. These include missing class, falling behind in class, doing poorly on exams or papers, and getting lower grades overall.
- Drinking in dangerous situations. A person might drink while driving a car or using machinery. A person may be arrested for drunk driving or for physically hurting someone while drunk.
- Continued drinking, even when it causes problems. The person still drinks, even when having ongoing problems with friends or family because of drinking. These problems are caused or made worse by alcohol.”
Alcohol use disorder is a serious condition. The best course of action is to seek professional help.
You’re Not Alone
“No difficulty can discourage, no obstacle dismay, no trouble disheartening the man who has acquired the art of being alive. Difficulties are but dares of fate, obstacles but hurdles to try his skill, troubles but bitter tonics to give him strength; and he rises higher and looms greater after each encounter with adversity.”
— Ella Wheeler Wilcox
If you’re battling alcohol use disorder and you feel alone, help is out there. Even if you’ve tried to get sober before and failed, that is no reason to give up. Your next attempt could be the one that leads you to recovery.
Remember, sobriety is achievable, and you are capable of achieving it. Do not give up. There’s more to life than alcohol, and you deserve to experience it all.
How to Drink in Moderation
You can reduce the risk of alcohol-related harms by drinking sensibly. Adults of legal drinking age can choose not to drink, or drink in moderation by only drinking two drinks or less in a day for men or one drink or less in a day for women.
While this may sound simple, it often is not. Like any habit formed over a long period of time, neuropathways become deeply ingrained and harder to change the longer the habit has been in place. Being used to a couple night caps to help destress from the day can be a surprisingly hard habit to break. Moderating or abstaining is not as simple as a choice. It requires extensive, concerted effort and often the support of others. Think of it like deciding to exercise or diet. Sounds simple, but much harder to make a reality every day than a just making the choice to do so.
Also, don’t feel obligated to drink at all. The best way to avoid binge drinking is by refraining from drinking altogether. If you do choose to drink, drinking less is always better.
The CDC reports that two in three adult drinkers admit to drinking above moderate levels at least once a month.
While many continue to think that moderate drinking may have some health benefits, recent studies have shown that may just not be true.
Call Shadow Mountain Recovery Today
At Shadow Mountain Recovery, we understand your situation is unique, which is why we will create an alcohol use disorder treatment plan just for you.
Our inpatient alcohol detoxification program and rehab program will address the symptoms of your addiction and daily-life contributors that may affect it. We use evidence-based treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy to help change thoughts and behaviors that lead to unwanted or unhealthy habits. We also offer recreational activities as a healthy alternative to alcohol.