Binge Drinking RISKS - It's Not Only a Problem for College Students

Effects of alcohol on the body, and alcohol use disorder treatments

binge drinking risks

Table of Contents

Binge drinking is not peculiar to college students because parents, grandparents, and other age demography are caught up in the web of binge drinking. Read on to learn about the standard alcohol intake recommendations, effects of alcohol on the body, and alcohol use disorder treatments.

Alcohol Intake Recommendations

How much alcohol is too much? This question may reduce alcohol-related health issues caused by binge drinking. However, before answering this question, it is essential to know what constitutes one drink.

Most people are not aware of the quantity of alcohol that can be termed as a drink. Knowing the standard alcoholic content in one drink can help to prevent excessive drinking and encourage moderate drinking. The quantity of liquid in your bottle can or glass does not determine the alcohol content in your drink.

What Causes Trauma

Different types of drinks such as liquor, wine, or beer have varying alcohol contents. You may drink a high volume of liquid with less alcohol content. At the same time, another individual may take a single shot of liquid that contains over three times the alcohol content present as a full bottle.

Beer

The amount of alcohol contents differs in types of beer 1. Regular beers have about 5% alcohol content compared to some light beers that contain about 4.2% of alcohol. A standard drink has a pure alcohol content of 14 grams which can be found in a regular beer of 12 ounces. Simply put, the percent volume of alcohol in one drink of beer is 5%.

Wine

There is a standard alcohol content in wine that can be used to describe one drink 2. The standard 14 grams of pure alcohol can be found in 5 ounces of wine, making up to 12% alcohol volume. Anything above this percent may be more than one drink, irrespective of the volume of liquid in your wine bottle.

Liquor

The percent volume of alcohol content that makes up a single drink differs from beer and wine for liquor 3. However, the standard 14 grams weight of pure alcohol remains the same, and this amount can be found in about 1.5 ounces of distilled spirit, making up to 40% volume of alcohol.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Guidelines

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has provided some guidelines to help reduce health-related issues caused by binge drinking. The NIAA guidelines on alcohol intake explain the alcohol limit for both men and women 4. According to the NIAA, men should not take more than four alcoholic drinks in a single day, while women should not exceed three alcoholic drinks daily. We have explained the alcoholic content of one alcoholic drink.

The NIAA guidelines also state that men should take no more than 14 drinks a week while women should not exceed seven drinks weekly. In addition, people above 65 years should not take more than three drinks daily or seven drinks weekly. The NIAA guidelines further state that pregnant women or women expecting to get pregnant should not drink alcohol because of the negative effect on the baby.

What is Binge Drinking?

Binge drinking is one of the most common patterns associated with excessive drinking. It is a deadly pattern of alcohol abuse that can be preventable 5.

Binge drinking may be defined as a drinking pattern that raises the BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of an individual to about 0.08g/dl or more. Binge drinking occurs when men consume at least five drinks while women consume at least four drinks under two hours. Most people that engage in binge drinking do not show signs of a severe disorder associated with alcohol use.

Who Binge Drinks?

Binge drinking is not associated with a particular age or gender. However, binge 6 drinking is primarily common among youths aged between 18-34 years. According to statistics, one in about six adults in the United States engages in binge drinking by consuming no less than seven drinks for each binge, and they do this drinking at least four times a month. There are about 17 billion binge drinks consumed annually by adults in the US 7.

Over half of the total binge drinks consumed annually are consumed by individuals aged 35 years and above. This heavy drinking resulting is about two times more common among men compared to women. Reports show that men consume four out of five binge drinks. Statistics also show that households with about $75,000 and above annual income with a higher level of education engage in binge drinking more than lower-income households.

What are the Risks?

Binge drinking poses health-related issues and exposes you to the following risks:

  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Violence such as suicide, sexual assault, homicide, etc.
  • Unintentional injuries like burns, falls, alcohol poisoning, car crashes, etc.
  • Poor pregnancy outcomes such as stillbirth, miscarriage, or unwanted pregnancy
  • Sudden infant death syndrome
  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder
  • Higher risk of contracting chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, liver disease, or high blood pressure
  • Cancer of the colon, liver, throat, mouth, breast, and esophagus
  • Learning and memory problems
  • Risk of developing alcohol use disorders

Effects Of Alcohol On Your Body

Overdrinking alcohol has several adverse effects on your body.

Brain

Excessive drinking has both short-term and long-term effects on the brain 9. For the short-term effects, alcohol can increase Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid activity. GABA is your brain’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter, which reduces the activity of neurons that may cause slowed reflexes, slurred speech, short-term memory lapses, and unsteady gait. Other short-term alcoholic effects on the brain include confusion, mania, aggression, anger, depression, and euphoria. The long-term effects of alcohol on the brain include dementia, brain shrinkage, psychosis, and hallucination.

Liver

Aside from the brain, your liver is the next most complex body organ. Excessive drinking of alcohol can affect your liver in several ways 10. It can lead to Alcohol-Related Liver Disorders (ARLD). Alcohol hepatitis is one of the stages of ARLD and may lead to other more severe issues if you fail to carry out alcohol withdrawal. Other alcohol-related problems on the liver include alcohol fatty liver diseases, Cirrhosis, liver cancer, etc.

Addiction

Alcohol addiction is a disease that has several harmful effects on your body. Addiction occurs when you are unable to control your actions due to excessive drinking. Some of the effects of alcohol addiction include:

  • Frequent alcohol intake
  • Avoidance of contact with loved ones
  • Depression
  • Emotional trauma
  • Loss of jobs, violence
  • Hiding while drinking
  • High alcohol tolerance

Alcohol withdrawal may come with nervousness, anxiety, nausea, tremors, heavy sweating, etc.

Other Effects of Alcohol

Aside from the effects of alcoholism mentioned above, overdrinking can also affect the body in several ways 12, including:

  • Sugar level – hypoglycemia, diabetes, hyperglycemia
  • Central Nervous System – Slurred Speech, Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, frontal lobe damage
  • Digestive System – gassiness, diarrhea, bloating, ulcers, colon, liver, mouth, esophagus cancer
  • Circulatory System – irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, heart failure, heart disease, anemia
  • Sexual and reproductive health – erectile dysfunction, infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth, fetal alcohol syndrome disorders, premature delivery, abnormal physical development
  • Skeletal and muscle system – cramping, muscle weakness, thinner bones, atrophy
  • Immune System – pneumonia, tuberculosis, cancer

Alcohol withdrawal may come with nervousness, anxiety, nausea, tremors, heavy sweating, etc.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder

The symptoms of alcohol use 13 disorder may be severe, mild, or moderate, and these symptoms may include the following:

Who Should Abstain from Alcohol?

Pregnant or Breastfeeding Women

Alcohol 14 has several adverse effects on an unborn baby, including premature birth, low birth weight, congenital disabilities, stillbirth, miscarriage, and alcohol spectrum disorders.

Recovering Alcoholics

Recovering alcoholics are at risk of relapsing and going back to drinking heavily, especially if they cannot control alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Recovering 15 alcoholics may still be at risk of alcohol health-related issues, and it is best to stay clear of all forms of alcoholic drinks.

Those with Preexisting Medical Conditions

People 16 with preexisting medical conditions such as diabetes, sleep disorders, liver diseases, mental health conditions, or infections may have their conditions worsened by alcohol intake.

Those Who Take Certain Medications

Taking certain medications for diabetes, muscle pain, infections, etc., and drinking alcohol are two parallel lines that should not meet. Alcohol 17 interaction with medications can cause issues such as vomiting, headaches, dizziness, changes in blood pressure, impaired breathing, internal bleeding, heart problems, liver damage, and more.

Treatment for Excessive Drinking

Detox

Alcohol 18 detoxification refers to the natural means of removing toxins or waste products from your body due to long-term consumption of alcohol. Detoxification is a primary treatment for an alcohol-addicted individual. The process is divided into the following:

Withdrawal

Gradual withdrawal from alcohol intake is a way to detoxify your body of harmful toxins caused by alcohol. You can start by engaging in moderate drinking and reducing the number of drinks you take in a day. It is also helpful to avoid a social gathering that may trigger your alcohol intake. Sudden alcohol withdrawal can lead to nervousness, anxiety, nausea, tremors, heavy sweating.

Delirium Tremens

Delirium 19 tremens occur from severe alcohol withdrawal. They often start between two to three days after ending binge drinking. Tremens may cause strokes, heart attacks, or even death if not treated.

Rehab

Rehab is a good treatment for alcoholism. There are different rehab programs that an alcohol addict can undergo to recovery from alcoholism. Alcohol 20 rehab programs include outpatient, partial or intensive outpatient hospitalization, residential programs, and intensive inpatient rehab programs.

Medication

Medication is another effective treatment for excessive drinking. You can visit a board-certified addiction 21 doctor or a primary care clinician to prescribe non-addicting medications. These medications can help you avoid relapse and stop drinking, but you must be determined to stop.


Resources

  1. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/what-standard-drink
  2. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/what-standard-drink
  3. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/what-standard-drink
  4. https://publichealth.nmsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2014/10/NIAAA-Safe-Drinking-Limits.pdf
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm
  6. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.html
  7. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm
  8. https://www.webmd.com/connect-to-care/addiction-treatment-recovery/alcohol/serious-effects-alcohol-on-brain
  9. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/alcohol-related-liver-disease-arld/#:~:text=Each%20time%20your%20liver%20filters,permanent%20damage%20to%20your%20liver.
  10. https://www.healthline.com/health/addiction/alcohol
  11. https://www.healthline.com/health/alcohol/effects-on-body#Sugar-levels
  12. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alcohol-use-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20369243
  13. https://americanaddictioncenters.org/alcoholism-treatment/dangers-pregnancy
  14. https://www.recoveryanswers.org/research-post/even-for-those-in-recovery-alcohol-use-disorder-can-have-long-term-health-consequences/
  15. https://www.alcohol.org.nz/alcohol-its-effects/health-effects/impact-on-existing-health-conditions
  16. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/alcohol-interactions-with-medications
  17. https://www.addictioncenter.com/alcohol/detox/
  18. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/delirium-tremens
  19. https://alcoholtreatment.niaaa.nih.gov/what-to-know/types-of-alcohol-treatment
  20. https://alcoholtreatment.niaaa.nih.gov/what-to-know/types-of-alcohol-treatment

If you or a loved one needs help, please call us at
(888) 744-9969 and our team at Blueprints For Recovery in Arizona will help.

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