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Effects and Risks of Binge Drinking

woman sitting near window thinking about the effects of binge drinking on her mental health

Binge drinking is a common yet dangerous form of alcohol consumption that is most popular among college-age adults. People who drink excessive alcohol at parties or other social gatherings may view a hangover the next day as their only consequence. However, this is not always the case. On a single occasion but especially over time, excessive drinking can majorly impact physical, mental, and psychological health.

If someone you know has developed an alcohol addiction due to their binge drinking or drinks heavily to sustain their habit, treatment within an alcohol addiction treatment program in Scurry, TX, may be required to provide the support necessary to help them stop drinking. Call Vertava Health Texas at 844.311.8395 to explore treatment options.

What Is Binge Drinking?

NIAAA defines binge drinking as drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 percentor higher. This includes consuming alcohol, including wine, beer, or hard liquor. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in six U.S. adults binge drinks four times a month. Even still, nearly 20% of those who binge drink in the U.S. are high schoolers under the legal drinking age.

Why Do People Binge Drink?

The reasons why people binge drink can vary based on personal circumstances. In many cases, binge drinking occurs in social settings, such as parties. In these instances, a person may binge drink to fit in with others who are drinking, to ease social anxiety, or because they are curious about the experience of intoxication.

Among teenagers, drinking is commonly engaged in as an act of rebellion. According to the CDC, most people who binge drink are not dependent on alcohol. However, this doesn’t mean that binge drinking cannot lead to or be a symptom of a severe problem. Reasons for binge drinking that may indicate a drinking problem include:

  • Drinking to numb or distract from negative emotions or experiences
  • Drinking to self-medicate
  • Drinking to get dangerously drunk
  • Strong alcohol cravings
  • Addiction

Frequent instances of binge drinking can lead to serious physical consequences, and it can also be harmful to a person’s mental health. Many people who use alcohol also struggle with depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders. Although alcohol may initially serve as a way to cope with these struggles, it can worsen them over time. Using alcohol to distract from personal issues is not a sustainable coping tool or solution.

Short-Term Physical and Mental Effects of Binge Drinking

Drinking heavy amounts of alcohol in a short time can lead to dangerous levels of intoxication and have physical, mental, and psychological effects.

Short-Term Physical Effects of Binge Drinking

Alcohol is a substance that depresses the central nervous system (CNS), a system in the body comprised of the brain and spinal cord. This can lead to a whole host of physical effects that are even more pronounced after drinking heavy amounts of alcohol. The physical effects of binge drinking can include:

  • Dizziness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Drowsiness
  • Dehydration
  • Low blood sugar
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Inhibited gag reflex
  • Hangover

Binge drinking is also a risk factor for alcohol poisoning. This can be serious and potentially life-threatening if left untreated. If someone you know is experiencing the following symptoms of alcohol poisoning after binge drinking, call 911 right away:

  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Prolonged breathing
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Loss of consciousness

Mental and Psychological Effects of Binge Drinking

The brain and the body can suffer several short-term effects after drinking excessive alcohol. Heavy drinking can make it harder to focus and make a person more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as unsafe sex or criminal activity. Mental and psychological effects of binge drinking can include:

  • Impaired judgment
  • Increased appetite
  • Depression
  • Aggression
  • Lowered inhibition
  • Confusion
  • Memory blackouts

Increased Risk for Accidents and Injury

One of the most overlooked dangers of binge drinking is the likelihood of it leading to severe accidents, injuries, and even suicide due to its mental and physical effects. Research on alcohol-related fatalities reports that over half of these deaths related to alcohol are due to binge drinking. Dangerous risks of binge drinking include:

  • Drunk driving fatalities
  • Falls
  • Burns
  • Suffocation
  • Drowning
  • Domestic violence
  • Sexual assault
  • Unintentional pregnancies

Long-Term Effects and Risks of Binge Drinking

Although there are many short-term effects and dangers posed by binge drinking, other personal, social, and health problems may also develop over time due to this excessive drinking. The more frequently a person binge drinks, the more likely they will experience these effects. Long-term effects and health risks linked to binge drinking include:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Liver disease
  • Various cancers (e.g., mouth, liver, breast, throat, etc.)
  • Weakened immune system
  • Memory and learning problems
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (due to unsafe sex while intoxicated)
  • Nerve damage
  • Depression
  • Poor work performance
  • Inability to stay in school or keep a job

Frequent binge drinking can also increase a person’s tolerance to alcohol and cause dependence on the body. Alcohol dependence can make it difficult for a person to reduce or stop, but there are benefits to quitting drinking. People who become dependent on alcohol are at greater risk for addiction and may experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms within 12 hours of their last drink.

Alcohol abuse and addiction can be influenced by several factors, including genetics, environment, biological factors, and other mental health struggles. People who binge drink to self-medicate may be even more vulnerable to developing a problem with alcohol.

If you or someone you know is binge drinking often and continues to do so despite adverse health or personal consequences, this can signify that they need professional treatment. Contact Vertava Health Texas at 844.311.8395 to receive more information on treatment for alcohol addiction.

Tips for Alcohol Consumption for Young Adults

Alcohol and young adults tend to go hand-in-hand. College is when many young people are first introduced to alcohol and begin drinking regularly. Although moderate alcohol consumption is generally considered safe, young adults must be aware of the risks associated with binge drinking to make informed decisions about their alcohol consumption. If you choose to drink alcohol, there are some things you can do to help reduce your risk of developing problems:

  • Set limits for yourself and stick to them
  • Pace yourself by drinking slowly and alternating between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
  • Avoid drinking games or other activities that encourage excessive drinking
  • Choose drinks with lower alcohol content
  • Don’t drink on an empty stomach
  • Be aware of your surroundings and who you’re with
  • Stop drinking alcohol if you feel intoxicated or uncomfortable

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol abuse, treatment can help. Contact Vertava Health Texas to learn about our evidence-based treatment programs.

Treatment for Alcohol Use and Addiction at Vertava Health – Texas

Our treatment specialists recognize binge drinking as what it can often be: a sign of a more significant problem. Although most people who binge drink are not expected to develop a severe alcohol problem, many still struggle in silence due to shame, addiction, or other personal reasons preventing them from seeking help.

Facing a drinking problem can be difficult, especially as a young adult. At Vertava Health Texas, we offer a wide array of treatment services that are capable of helping people of all ages work through their substance use problems within a safe and supportive environment. At Vertava Health Texas, our core treatment modalities for alcohol use include:

  • Medically supervised detox
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Group therapy
  • Mindfulness and stress management
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Family and couples therapy
  • Adventure therapy
  • Wilderness therapy

If you or someone you know is struggling with an alcohol problem, don’t wait to seek professional support. Contact Vertava Health Texas today for more information about our alcohol rehab program.