Content reviewed by Nicholas G. Glines, Executive Director at New Hope Ranch
When you consume a large amount of alcohol in a short amount of time, you are binge drinking. According to the CDC, “one in six US adults binge drinks about four times a month consuming about seven drinks per binge.” The amount of alcohol consumed averages about 467 drinks per drinker.
Many risks result from binge drinking and due to the prevalence of binge drinking in the US, many individuals are at risk. Binge drinking can result in long-term effects that interfere with your mental and physical health.
Why do so many individuals binge drink?
Binge drinking is a pattern common to problem drinkers or individuals with a substance use disorder (SUD). It is not limited to such individuals. Many others who have not developed a dependency tend to binge drink, too. Different reasons why you might partake in binge drinking could include:
- Underlying mood disorders
- Peer pressure
Excessive drinking has a connection with mental health disorders. Drinking to cope is common for relieving stress, though relief is temporary. If you notice a pattern in your drinking habit, it is possible that it is related to an underlying issue and professional treatment is necessary. Even if you do not have an underlying issue, you could develop a substance dependency and cause mental and physical damage. Professional help facilities are necessary to help with recovery.
How do you know if you binge drink?
Binge drinking can interfere with your health and your relationships. It is essential to educate yourself on responsible drinking. Monitor your habits. Do you consume more than five drinks each time you drink? Do you need to drink to socialize? Examining why you drink will shed light on your behaviors surrounding alcohol. You can use mindfulness techniques, journal or discuss your behaviors with a therapist to help you identify the factors that contribute to your drinking patterns.
You might examine your behaviors as a result of drinking; how does it affect your mood? Does it feel like it’s required to function in public? Does it affect your performance in day-to-day activities? Often, drinking to excess leads to risky behavior and could cause physical, mental and legal issues. If you notice that drinking has interfered with any facet of your life, it is an indication that you need help.
Long-Term Effects of Binge-drinking
Regular binge drinking can perpetuate the risk of chronic diseases and other long-term problems, including:
- Gut and digestive tract problems. Alcohol affects stomach acid production, which reduces the stomach’s ability to destroy bacteria that enters the stomach. Drinking heavy amounts of alcohol can damage mucous cells in the stomach and delay stomach emptying, creating bacterial degradation and leading to abdominal discomfort.
- Liver damage. Most alcohol metabolizes within the liver, and the liver filters the blood from the digestive tract and helps remove toxins from your body. High amounts of alcohol overwhelm the liver and could increase fat production and lead to a fatty liver. The toxic by-products produced by the liver can lead to cell tissue damage.
- Damage of the mouth and throat. The mouth and throat are the first to have alcohol exposure. Alcohol can remain in your saliva for almost 30 minutes after consumption. From saliva, acetaldehyde from the alcohol could easily reach and damage the tissues in the mouth.
- High blood pressure or heart disease. Binge drinking presents a high risk of hypertension, myocardial infarction and strokes in adults who binge drink. This is because binge drinking elevates blood pressure, raises your cholesterol and could cause a heart arrhythmia.
- Perpetuate mental health disorders. Excess alcohol consumption connects with underlying mental health conditions. If you drink to relieve stress or avoid problems, this could indicate that you have an underlying mental health disorder. It is common for individuals who develop an SUD to also struggle with depression, anxiety or PTSD. Other disorders such as bipolar disorder links with drinking.
It is important to understand why you need to binge drink to identify any underlying cause.
While different approaches work for different people, the best way to manage your drinking patterns is through professional help. Healthcare professionals can help provide a thorough diagnosis, including examining your family health history and how alcohol affects your day-to-day life. Through a thorough diagnosis, you will be able to find the best treatment to suit your needs. It might entail any of the following:
- Entering detox
- Changing your environment
- Building a support network of friends, family and peers
- Attending 12-step programs in Texas
If you feel that you are unable to gain control of your drinking, the time to reach out for help is today. To find out more information about our programs, reach out to New Hope Ranch and call us at (737) 600-8565.