These 5 interesting facts about binge drinking will leave you questioning the impact of your latest booze bender. A heavy bout of drinking is not as harmless as many people think it is.
Binge drinking refers to drinking a high volume of alcohol in a short space of time. Basically, it means getting drunk.
Being a legal drug, alcohol is so normalised in our society that binge drinking is often not recognised as dangerous. As a result, many people binge on alcohol on a regular basis.
Binge drinkers can experience dangerous consequences such as blackouts as well as overdoses (commonly known as alcohol poisoning). Other health risks include a weakened immune system, liver damage and an increased risk of sexually transmitted infections due to engaging in high-risk sexual behaviour as a result of lowered inhibitions. Because of the way high levels of alcohol impair a person, binge drinking can also lead to deadly consequences such as falls, burns, drownings and fatal car accidents.
If you binge on alcohol, it doesn’t mean you are an alcoholic but it is associated with an increased risk of developing an addiction to alcohol. If you need treatment for alcohol addiction, click here to change your life today.
The formal definition of binge drinking is consuming five or more drinks (for men) and four or more drinks (for women) on one occasion, typically in a couple of hours. It is a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08% or higher. When youths drink it takes even less alcohol to reach the same BAC in the same time frame – only three drinks for girls and three to five for boys. Heavy binge drinking is when a person has three or more of these drinking bouts within two weeks.
Become more aware of what it means to binge drink and read on to discover 5 interesting facts about the impact of your drinking sprees.
Here are the 5 interesting facts about binge drinking
1. Teenagers who binge drink are three times more likely to become alcoholics
Teenagers who binge drink are up to three times more likely to develop alcohol use disorder or to become alcoholics than teens who don’t engage in heavy drinking. This is especially worrying considering that, according to a study conducted in Gauteng, almost 70% of high-school learners have been drunk and had therefore participated in binge drinking. Two thirds of these learners reported that their parents were unaware of their drinking. This means that because caregivers are likely unaware of the problematic drinking, they are less likely to intervene and help at-risk teens.
2. Binge drinking can lead to heart attacks, strokes, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes
Because drinking to excess can affect a person’s heartbeat, it can lead to problems like heart attacks and strokes. A study found that drinking six or more cocktails in one night raises the risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event such as a strokes or heart attacks by 30% the next day.
Studies have found that binge drinking has been associated with a greater risk of obesity and having a larger waist circumference. For example, men who drank 21 units or more a week had a significantly higher body mass index than those who were light drinkers or non-drinkers.
Drinking more than three drinks in one sitting can temporarily raise a person’s blood pressure to unhealthy levels and repeated binges can lead to long-term high blood pressure.
Binge drinking directly causes insulin resistance which can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes.
3. Binge drinking can have disastrous effects on the brain development of adolescents
Research shows that adolescence is an important time for brain development and adolescents who binge drink risk disrupting this growth with long-term consequences.
Both grey matter volume and grey matter thickness appear to decrease in young people who binge drink. Grey matter is important for many basic functions including control over movements, retaining memories and regulating emotions.
Young people who binge drink also risk changing the structure of the brain in terms of diminishing its response to risky decision making – which could lead to greater impulsivity and risk taking.
Other task domains of brain activation that can be negatively affected by binge drinking in adolescence include verbal learning, working memory and inhibition.
4. Binge drinking has been linked to developing cancer
Alcohol is a carcinogen and excessive alcohol use, such as repeated episodes of binge drinking, increases the risk of developing a range of different types of cancer.
Most people know that alcohol causes liver cancer in the long-run, but few realise it can increase a person’s risk of developing head and neck, oesophageal, breast and colorectal cancers.
Regardless of the type of alcohol you drink, the risk of cancer increases with the number of drinks consumed. Even one drink a day increases your risk and reducing your alcohol intake lowers your risk of developing cancer.
5. Binge drinking can lead to sexual dysfunction and infertility
Drinking high volumes of alcohol can make it difficult for men to get and keep an erection. This is because alcohol affects the brain’s ability to cause the penis to fill with blood. But the problem could also be linked to the fact that alcohol can reduce the production of testosterone in men.
Additionally, heavy drinking may make it difficult for both men and women to orgasm during sex.
Long-term libido, or sexual drive, is also negatively impacted by heavy drinking. This is thought to be related to decreased testosterone levels.
The fertility of both men and women can be negatively impacted by alcohol. Women who repeatedly binge drink may stop ovulating and, in men, lowered testosterone can affect sperm production.
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