Studies show that binge drinking’s damage to the body is the same, if not more severe, as that of regular consumption. For example, a regular alcohol drinker consumes 3-5 beers per day and a weekend warrior consumes 48 beers in two days. Because of this intense intoxication, there are many risks involved with binge drinking such as alcohol poisoning, traffic infractions and bodily injuries. Denial about needing alcohol rehab is vast within the weekend binge drinking population as “weekend warriors” seem to function during the week.
What is Binge Drinking?
Consuming alcohol, drugs or food unrestrained in a short period of time is considered bingeing. The primary goal of bingeing is intoxication. Consuming alcohol, drugs and food in this way will impact chemicals in the brain and elicit euphoric effects. Time period of binges vary, some last several hours while others can last up to a few days. The most common type of bingeing among young adults is excessive use of alcoholic beverages on weekends. This behavior usually becomes a habit in college but can form as early as high school.
The American Journal of Public Health conducted a research study about binge drinking in 2004. The study gathered information on specific contributing factors of those who binge on alcohol. These characteristics included:
- Age - Younger people seemed to binge drink more, specifically people age 34 and younger
- Gender - More men than women were binge drinkers
- Local culture and customs - Alcoholic beverages are associated with celebrations such as holidays
Perception of the law - Individual interpretation of authority, such as whether or not one thinks he or she will get caught drunk driving, affects binge drinking
- The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey conducted a study in 2010 and found that 85% of drunk driving episodes were, in fact, caused by binge drinkers.
Religious affiliation, local culture and customs and perception of the law are all heavily influenced by the immediate family. For example, your family may have a tradition of tailgating, where a child witnesses parents bingeing on alcohol before sports games. This becomes a normal event and the young adult will continue the tradition despite the many risks involved with binge drinking.
Risks of Binge Drinking
A binge drinker will consume the same amount of alcohol as a daily drinker in a shorter period of time, which produces many hazardous risks. In a weekend warrior’s mind, the perceived benefits of binge drinking, such as being able to go to work during the week, will outweigh its dangerous consequences. Many binge drinkers think that negative consequences will not happen to them because they are not dependent on using alcohol daily. Unfortunately, binge drinkers face many of the same consequences as daily drinkers and sometimes suffer more immediate ones.
Binge drinking is dangerous behavior. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did a study looking at statistics of binge drinking and associated health risks in the United States. Some of the findings were:
- 92% of adults who drink excessively report binge drinking in the past 30 days
- Many binge drinkers sustain unintentional injuries
- About 75% of the alcohol consumed in the United States is consumed in the form of binge drinking
- Binge drinking can lead to alcohol poisoning
- Binge drinking has been linked to more unwanted pregnancies and babies born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
- Binge drinking can cause high blood pressure, stroke and cardiovascular disease
Despite the hazardous risks of binge drinking, it is typically seen as socially acceptable in society, especially when the binge drinker is functioning during the week at measurable terms. “Functioning” may mean holding a job, managing relationships and appearing to be emotionally or physically healthy. Because an individual seems to be functioning well and alcohol does not pose an immediate threat, the pattern of binge drinking continues and dependence can develop.
Confronting Binge Behaviors
Some binge drinkers will need an alcoholic beverage the day after drinking to feel less sick, which is referred to as an eye opener. While this may seem innocent enough, it actually may be an indicator that something is wrong. Whenever someone is consuming enough alcohol to need a drink the next day to decrease alcohol withdrawal symptoms, physical dependence is present. Physical dependence is the body’s way of adjusting to alcohol poisoning its system. Some other behavioral indicators that binge drinking is problematic are:
- Having rules about when you can drink
- Regretting behaviors when drinking
- Neglecting responsibilities because you have a hangover
- Family and friends voicing concern about your drinking behaviors
- Questioning whether or not you have an alcohol problem
Many people in recovery state that if you question whether or not you have a problem, you probably do. Having rules is just another indicator that alcohol may be a bigger part of your life than you realize. This indicates an adjustment to drinking and an individual who does not have a relationship with alcohol does not think about how to fit it into his or her life.
24/7 all conversations are confidential