What is Binge Drinking?
Many people assume that the definition of an alcoholic is someone who is unable to function without alcohol. However, alcohol doesn’t require dependency to create long-term problems. In fact, those who binge drink regularly are at risk of suffering serious consequences as a result of their alcohol abuse.
To binge drink is defined as the consecutive consumption of alcohol until the drinker’s blood-alcohol level (BAC) exceeds 0.08 percent. For men, this usually means five or more drinks in one sitting; women are considered to be binge drinking if they consume four or more drinks in a two-hour period.
Binge drinking is typically associated with young adults and college students, which is true to an extent. The age group with the most binge drinkers is 18-34 years old; surprisingly, though, people 65 years and older binge drink more frequently. People who binge drink most often make under $25,000 per year, but the group with the highest number of binge drinkers is the $75,000+ bracket. While more than half of the alcohol consumed by adults and 90 percent of alcohol consumed by young adults is a result of binge drinking, most people who binge drink are not considered alcoholics. However, most drivers under the influence of alcohol do so as a result of binge drinking.
Binge Drink Methods
Though any form of alcohol can be used to binge drink, the most common form of alcohol used by teenage binge drinkers is hard liquor. Liquor comprises nearly 44 percent of teenage binge drinking, with malt beverages at 18.5 percent and beer at 17.4 percent. Most teens start by using liquor because of its high alcohol content and its ease in mixing with other drinks, which makes it easier for beginning drinkers to swallow.
The use of liquor is also popular at bars because it is cheaper for bars to distribute liquor than it is to sell beer. Bars make more money off of a liquor drink, such as a rum and coke, than they do off of selling a beer. Since liquor represents a better cost benefit, bars can give patrons more liquor, thereby increasing the chances of those customers engaging in binge drinking.
Binge Drinking Demographics
Binge drinking in college is often seen as a rite of passage, which is backed up by the numbers. More than four out of five college students have tried alcohol, and one in every three college students admits to binge drinking. Unfortunately, binge drinking isn’t the harmless fun it’s made out to be; 800,000 college students have been victims of assault or rape as a result of alcohol, whether it be because the victim was drunk or the assailant had been drinking.
Binge drinking isn’t merely a college phenomenon, either. On average, four out of ten high school students regularly engage in drinking. Additionally, the percentage of adults who regularly binge drink isn’t as high as college students, but at least ten percent of residents of 48 US states are binge drinkers. The highest percentages are in the Northeast and Midwest. States in the Southeast report the lowest percentages of binge drinkers in their states.
Effects of Binge Drinking
Binge drinking doesn’t just end the next day when the drinker recovers from his or her hangover. There are a variety of short-term and long-term effects that come into play when binge drinking occurs.
- High blood pressure
- Alcohol poisoning
- Liver damage
- Brain damage
- Heart problems
- Sexual problems
- Workplace problems
Getting Help for Alcohol Abuse
People like to write off binge drinking as “not a big deal.” However, the potential effects of binge drinking can be disastrous. If someone is binge drinking too often, they need help. Treatment programs, interventions, and rehabilitation are all effective tools in helping people to stop binge drinking and get their lives in order. These methods should be seriously explored before it’s too late. You can contact us today if you, or someone you know, has a problem with binge drinking.