The Dangers of Binge Drinking
Binge drinking is defined as the consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol over a relatively short period of time. It’s a common occurrence at universities and even among high school students across the nation. A binge drinking episode can last several hours or several days and is often written off as a night of debauchery. Binge drinkers often trick themselves into thinking that because they don’t drink everyday, their binge drinking is nothing to worry about. However, studies have shown that this couldn’t be further from the truth, and it can often lead to the same effects as alcoholism.
Binge drinkers often ingest massive amounts of alcohol that can cause black outs, memory loss and even death by alcohol poisoning. But there are several real dangers, both short term and long term, that can be brought on by binge drinking, and they should not be ignored.
US News reports that more than thirty eight million adult Americans binge drink roughly four times a month.
Here are the seven primary dangers associated with binge drinking:
- Heart Disease – While it may not be an immediate danger, studies have shown that prolonged binge drinking habits can pose serious health risks to the heart. Doctors have found a clear correlation between the amount of alcohol consumed and blood pressure. Alcoholic cardiomyopathy is a weakening of the heart muscles that can lead to heart failure according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.
- Cancer – Being that alcohol is a carcinogen, prolonged and severe use can lead to certain cancers including liver or throat cancer. The National Institute of Health reports that alcohol and tobacco may be responsible for about eighty percent of all throat and mouth cancers in men and sixty percent of throat and mouth cancers in women.
- Alcoholism / Abuse – While binge drinking can often begin as an occasional act, habitual binge drinking usually leads to alcoholism, or the physical and physiological dependence on alcohol. Because alcohol promotes dopamine release, the cycle of binge drinking lends itself to a larger habit, one which becomes required to maintain normal levels of happiness and emotional control.
- Pregnancy / STDs – It’s no secret that alcohol can impair judgement, particularly in large quantities. Binge drinkers often find their judgement clouded during intimate scenarios in which otherwise sober, they would act differently. Unprotected sex, pregnancy and acquiring a sexually transmitted disease become very real life possibilities for binge drinkers. Furthermore, alcohol, even in small quantities during pregnancy, can cause life long irreparable damage to infants.
- Alcohol Poisoning – The CDC reports over 2,200 deaths from alcohol poisoning annually, or about six deaths per day. Poisoning from alcohol is a very preventable danger but one that can be hard to spot. Symptoms of alcohol poisoning include confusion and vomiting: common place behavior in party schools across the nation.
- Injuries – With binge drinkers motor skills and reaction time severely slowed while intoxicated, the risk for general injury increases tremendously. Slip and falls, car accidents and other harmful occurrences often accompany a night of binge drinking. The CDC reports over 80,000 deaths each year as the result of binge drinking, either with the drinkers hurting themselves or others in moments of carelessness.
- Brain Damage – Binge drinking, particularly among teens and young adults in their twenties, are at a risk for significant brain damage. Since the brain is still developing, to some extent, during adolescent years and beyond, binge drinking habits have been shown to negatively effect brain development and in some cases, cause brain damage in younger drinkers. Scientists have found that long term memory and cognitive abilities specifically, are most at risk for binge drinkers.