Not everyone who struggles with alcohol addiction has a drink every day. You might think that restricting yourself to a few splurges here and there isn’t that harmful. Binge drinking (as defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) is a pattern of alcohol consumption that raises the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level to 0.08% or higher. Over a two-hour period, that’s roughly five or more drinks for men or four or more drinks for women. Despite not being classified as a severe alcohol use disorder, binge drinking still carries a number of significant risks both in the short-term and over the long haul.
Short-term Negative Effects of Binge Drinking
Some of the more immediate consequences of binge drinking include:
- Impaired motor skills and balance
- Slower reaction times
- Poor judgment
All of these can lead to long-term consequences ranging from injury to death. Risky sexual behavior resulting from the temporary changes in your judgment could lead to sexually transmitted infections or unwanted pregnancy.
Binge Drinking is a Major Cause of Alcohol Poisoning
You’re also at major risk for alcohol poisoning when you binge drink. Some of the warning signs include the short-term effects listed above as well as low blood pressure, lower body temperature, changes in breathing, blurred or double vision, clammy skin and vomiting. With alcohol poisoning, your gag reflex is impacted as well which can lead to serious choking hazards or death.
If you see someone who might be suffering from alcohol poisoning, call 911 right away. Stay with the individual to keep them safe from accidental harm. Help them remain awake and sitting until help arrives. If they’re unconscious, roll them onto their side to prevent them from choking in case they begin vomiting.
Long-term Effects of Binge Drinking
One of the more obvious long-term consequences of binge drinking is progressing to more serious levels of alcohol abuse. However, even if you’re able to keep from slipping in that direction, there are some other potential issues to consider.
- Cancer – As little as one alcoholic drink per day increases your risk of breast, mouth or esophageal cancer. Excessive drinking has been linked to other cancers as well including liver, colon, rectum, pharynx and larynx cancers.
- Brain development – For the 25 and under crowd, your brains are still maturing and growing. Binge drinking may cause issues with brain development.
- Depression and anxiety – Some people may go on drinking binges when dealing with difficult situations. Ironically, alcohol use can exacerbate both depression and anxiety while preventing you from developing healthier coping mechanisms—leading to a vicious cycle of alcohol abuse and mental health issues.
How to Stop Binge Drinking
If you don’t experience withdrawals when going extended periods without alcohol, you might be able to curb drinking binges with only the support of responsible friends and family. However, if any of these warning signs for more serious drinking problems apply to you, you may want to consider seeking professional help with recovery.
- Withdrawals or intense cravings between drinks
- Guilt over your drinking
- Risky behavior
- Anger when drinking
- Drinking alone regularly
- Drinking to cope with stress, anxiety or depression
Alcoholism is a disease. Facing it can seem overwhelming. When you need help with alcohol abuse, Cycles of Change Recovery Services is here for you. Our alcohol treatment programs in Palmdale, California are customized for your needs with a team of counselors, clinical personnel and medical staff ready to walk the path to sobriety with you. If you’re ready to start your journey towards a healthier life, fill out this form or call and talk to one of our compassionate addiction experts today at (661) 630-4176.