Binge Drinking

By | August 7, 2023

Long-Term Effects of Binge Drinking

Drinking in moderation is considered to be consuming two drinks or less in a day for men and one drink or less in a day for women. Heavy drinking is believed to cost the U.S. economy more than $200 billion a year in lost productivity, health costs, and property damage. Other factors also affect your BAC, such as how quickly you drink, whether you’ve eaten recently, and your body type.

Long-Term Effects of Binge Drinking

Even though binge drinking can be a single event, it could still have severe health consequences (e.g., alcohol poisoning, STIs, heart disease) in the short and long term. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking alcohol, typically within a 2-hour period, which brings a person’s BAC to 0.08% or higher. A person’s BAC is the percentage of alcohol in their blood, and in the United States, a BAC of 0.08% means the person is legally intoxicated.

Although drinking any amount of alcohol can carry certain risks (for information on impairments at lower levels, please see this chart), crossing the binge threshold increases the risk of acute harm, such as blackouts and overdoses. Binge drinking also increases the likelihood of unsafe sexual behavior and the risk of sexually transmitted infections and unintentional pregnancy. Because of the impairments it produces, binge drinking also increases the likelihood of a host of potentially deadly consequences, including falls, burns, drownings, and car crashes. Binge drinking is when a person consumes enough alcoholic beverages during a 2-hour period to bring their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08% or higher.

Binge Drinking Prevention

Whether it’s considered binge drinking will depend on how much alcohol you consume each day and over a week or month. Binge drinking is a type of excessive drinking, where people consume a large quantity of alcohol in a short period of time. Binge drinking is the most common and costly pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States.1,2 Binge drinking is defined faith-based addiction recovery top religious recovery groups as consuming 5 or more drinks on an occasion for men or 4 or more drinks on an occasion for women. Nine out of 10 binge drinkers aren’t dependent on alcohol, but doctors and scientists think they’re more likely to develop alcohol use disorder. Heavy, long-term alcohol use can lead to alcoholic liver disease, which includes inflammation of the liver and cirrhosis.

  1. It can be challenging (but also helpful) to talk openly about your concerns about binge drinking with trusted friends and family.
  2. While fear and shame lead many to underreport alcohol use, providers can foster honesty by creating a safe space, asking specific questions, and focusing on health impacts.
  3. This is the amount of alcohol in your system to be considered legally impaired.
  4. The definition of binge drinking, according to the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism (NIAA), is “alcohol consumption that brings the BAC to 0.08 g/dL.”
  5. You’ll start to feel the effects of alcohol within 5 to 10 minutes of having a drink.
  6. The CDC recommends that if you don’t already drink, you shouldn’t start for any reason.

Researchers blame this kind of heavy drinking for more than half of the roughly 88,000 alcohol-related deaths — from car crashes, alcohol poisoning, suicide, and violence — that happen every year. There are several options available for people who currently binge drink. These may help them gain control of their drinking habits or even stop drinking altogether. Some options may include finding replacement activities or seeking professional help.

Is It Bad to Drink Three Days in a Row?

In addition to increasing the risk of injury, binge drinking impairs the body’s ability to heal from those injuries. “It’s estimated that about half of all alcohol-related deaths in the United States are related to acute intoxication, and most of the economic costs are also related to binge drinking,” said Dr. Timothy Naimi, professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine and co-author of the CDC study. For an average-sized person, the liver can only break down about one standard drink per hour. If you drink more alcohol than what your liver can process, your blood alcohol content (BAC) will increase. Drinking alcohol three days in a row is not good for you, but it’s not necessarily considered binge drinking either.

After a single night of binge drinking, some of the short-term effects will go away. Knowing your limits, including what number of drinks qualifies as binge drinking, is an excellent first step in preventing future binge drinking episodes. The chances are especially high for people who drink heavily during their teen years.

People with alcohol use disorder frequently binge drink, but they do this on a more regular basis than people who engage in single episodes of binge drinking. The definition of binge drinking, according to the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism (NIAA), is “alcohol consumption that brings the BAC to 0.08 g/dL.” Binge drinking is when someone drinks a large quantity of alcohol in a short amount of time. Many experts define it as drinking enough alcohol during a 2-hour period to bring the BAC to 0.08%. Generally, this is around four drinks for women and five drinks for men. But bodies absorb alcohol differently depending on factors including body type and age.

Over time, alcohol misuse, including repeated episodes of binge drinking, contributes to liver and other chronic diseases as well as increases the risk of several types of cancer, including head and neck, esophageal, liver, breast, and colorectal cancers. However, not all reports support the link between consuming a specific beverage type (i.e., wine vs. beer or spirits) and health benefits. Some reports suggest that beverage amount is more directly linked to health outcomes.11,12 The differential contribution of alcoholic beverages to beneficial or detrimental health outcomes remains to be examined in both preclinical and clinical studies. Therefore, dissecting how pattern of drinking and type of alcoholic beverage contribute to overall outcomes is challenging. Additional research is needed to better recognize the differential effects of binge, chronic, and binge-on-chronic patterns of alcohol consumption.

Most people who binge drink are not addicted to or dependent on alcohol. However, binge drinking can increase your risk of developing alcohol use disorder. How quickly a person’s body absorbs alcohol may depend on their sex, age, and body size. But it typically takes four or more standard drinks for women and five or more standard drinks for men to reach a BAC of 0.08% during a 2-hour binge drinking period. Binge drinking is a type of excessive alcohol consumption that raises the BAC to 0.08 g/dL, the point at which a person is legally impaired. This usually involves drinking five or more drinks for men or four or more for women on a single occasion lasting a few hours.

Neuropathological Consequences

Cutting back on the amount or frequency of drinking can reduce these risks. Excessive drinking is also bad for the cardiovascular system, leading to increased risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, and irregular heartbeat. Or by depressing the gag reflex, which puts a person who has passed out at risk of choking on their compare sober homes own vomit. While drinking alcohol is normalized socially and is legal above the age of 21 in the United States, it can still have harmful impacts on the body. Binge drinking has many effects on your body, both over the short and long term. Naturally, you may wonder how much alcohol you have to drink to get to that point.

Although the effects of chronic alcohol consumption and the mechanisms of tissue injury underlying alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis have received much attention, less attention has been focused on the pathophysiological consequences of binge alcohol consumption. Because of the differences in male and female alcohol metabolism rates, it is possible that greater tissue injury is produced in females who consume alcohol in binge-like patterns. Furthermore, in an aging population already riddled with polypharmacy, there is heightened potential for toxicity during an alcohol binge (Figure 4). Also, pre-existing comorbid conditions such as cardiovascular disease, renal failure, or steatohepatitis may predispose binge drinkers to accelerated tissue injury. Data suggest that even one episode of binge drinking can compromise function of the immune system and lead to acute pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) in individuals with underlying pancreatic damage.

By Sarah Bence, OTR/LSarah Bence, OTR/L, is an occupational therapist and freelance writer. She specializes in a variety of health topics including mental health, dementia, celiac disease, and endometriosis. While fear and shame lead many to underreport alcohol use, providers can foster honesty by creating a safe space, asking specific questions, and focusing on health impacts. Honest disclosure is vital for optimal care, and even small reductions in alcohol intake can significantly improve health outcomes.

It can be challenging (but also helpful) to talk openly about your concerns about binge drinking with trusted friends and family. These people can support you when you say no to an extra drink or ask to hang out in a different environment where you’re less likely to want a drink in hand. This is sometimes called the “5+/4+ rule” (5-plus/4-plus rule) of binge drinking. Adults under 35 are more likely to do this than other age groups, and men are twice as likely as women. People who make more than $75,000 a year and are more educated are most likely to binge drink.

Animal models that reflect these patterns of alcohol exposure are needed. In addition, greater effort toward documenting a history of alcohol consumption, including the frequency, quantity, and quality of alcoholic beverages cocaine withdrawal consumed, should help us better understand the effects of binge drinking on biological systems. How these shifts in bacterial strains, load, and metabolites contribute to organ injury remains to be fully elucidated.

Figure 3 The systemic effects of chronic binge alcohol consumption and the principal organ systems affected. It’s common for binge drinking to occur socially—for example, at a wedding reception, house party, or a night out. Most American adults drink alcohol at least occasionally, but about 1 in 4 knock back several drinks in a short period of time at least once a year.

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