Are you a binge drinker?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recently raised an urgent alert about the dangers of binge drinking, especially for teenagers and young adults. The CDC defines binge drinking as the consumption of a large amount of alcohol within a short period of time. For men, 5 or more drinks constitutes binge drinking, while for women it’s 4 or more drinks. About 15% of adults in the U.S. admit to binge drinking. Since many people may not report this type of behavior when surveyed, the actual percentage of people who binge drink is probably even higher.
Unfortunately, most people don’t realize that excessive drinking and binge drinking are a leading cause of death in the U.S. and therefore a public health problem. More than 79,000 deaths each year in the United States are linked to binge drinking and heavy drinking.
The CDC report includes the following facts about binge drinking:
- 4 million times each day, an adult in the U.S. has a binge drinking episode
- Many people who binge drink are not alcoholic or alcohol dependent
- Men in the 18-34 age range are the largest segment of the population that reports binge drinking
- People who have a household income greater than $75,000 per year report more episodes of binge drinking
- Adults who are binge drinkers can influence the youth they come in contact with, leading them to try binge drinking for themselves
- 2 out of 3 high school students who drink alcohol have a binge drinking episode at least once a month
- Binge drinking brings the risk of serious impairment. It can cause emotional and psychological problems for individuals and families.
It can also lead to the following dangerous behaviors:
- Drunk driving and motor vehicle accidents
- Unplanned pregnancy and unwanted sexual contact
- Transmission of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and HIV
- Occurrences of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- Violence towards others and suicide
- Alcohol poisoning, which can be life-threatening
- Development of alcohol dependency and alcoholism
The message sent by alcohol advertisers, liquor stores and bars is that drinking is a fun activity. Many people, especially young people, become involved in social situations where there is pressure to binge drink. Because they have never experienced the negative consequences of drinking, high school students and young adults are most at risk for mental confusion, vomiting, blackouts and the other effects of binge drinking. They are also more at risk for overdosing on alcohol, which is also referred to as alcohol poisoning.
People who have a household income greater than $75,000 per year report more episodes of binge drinking male addiction counselor.
Addiction Treatment is Available and it Works
The CDC recommends that individuals fight the dangers of binge drinking by slowing down their rate of alcohol consumption and avoiding driving after drinking. Adults can set a good example for children and teenagers by not over drinking and by educating young people on the dangers of binge drinking.
When binge drinking has become a habit that is hard to break, a health care professional should be consulted. An intervention by family members and loved ones may be required to convince a binge drinker of the dangers of his or her behavior.