Did you know that an estimated 3 million deaths (over 5% of all deaths) occur as a result of alcohol worldwide every year? Do you worry that you or a loved one is dealing with binge drinking or alcohol abuse, and may become part of that statistic?
While not always related, binge drinking & alcohol abuse are closely tied. Many people don’t recognize that they have a problem until it’s too late, and then they have to go through a painful detox and recovery period.
We want to keep you informed with binge drinking & alcohol abuse facts so you know what to look out for, what risks are associated, and how you or your loved one can recover. Keep reading to learn more.
What Is Binge Drinking?
Binge drinking is a common practice and most people who binge drink don’t suffer from an alcohol use disorder. That said, it isn’t safe and someone who binge drinks on occasion should stay aware of their alcohol intake and keep tabs on their health
When someone binge drinks, it means that they’re drinking enough to raise their blood alcohol content (BAC) to over .08%. The amount of alcohol that causes your BAC to rise that high varies based on multiple factors including altitude, body weight, speed, food intake, and sex (men can often drink more than women).
On average, 5 drinks for men and 4 drinks for women (within two hours) is considered binge drinking.
Binge drinking is common amongst college-aged adults and often normalized to the point that no one considers it a health concern. Binge drinking may result in alcohol poisoning or risky behaviors.
Is Binge Drinking Always Alcohol Abuse?
As we mentioned, binge drinking isn’t always an indication of an alcohol use disorder. While these people are technically abusing alcohol by drinking too much, it doesn’t mean that they have an alcohol problem per se. You need to look at it on a case-by-case basis.
For example, someone who drinks too much at the occasional party or event, or someone who misjudges their tolerance based on new factors (like medication, weight loss, or food intake for the night) likely doesn’t have an alcohol use disorder as long as they later recognize their mistake.
When someone binge drinks often, though (like every week or even every day), it’s a problem. This is one of the primary issues with the normalization of binge drinking for college students.
When partying too hard is the norm, these students are at risk of developing alcoholism and future health problems. They aren’t yet aware of important alcohol abuse facts, so they’re putting themselves at risk.
How Do You Know If You Have an Alcohol Problem?
If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’re worried that you or a loved one has a problem with alcohol. Whether you’ve had one bad night out or you’ve noticed unhealthy patterns, it’s great that you’re doing your research.
There are several key signs that someone may be abusing alcohol to the extent that it’s become a problem. They include:
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Neglecting responsibilities (like school or work) in exchange for alcohol
- Frequent stomach pain
- An inability to know when it’s time to stop
- An increased alcohol tolerance
- Mood disruption
- An inability to feel “normal” when not under the influence of alcohol
- Frequent alcohol cravings
- Drinking in excess when alone
From time to time, most of these things can be normal. In combination, though, they’re problematic. These factors are a sign that it may be time to seek out counseling or a recovery center. It’s also a good idea to talk to friends and family to see if they’ve noticed any strange behavior.
What Are Alcohol Abuse Risk Factors?
Did you know that there are some things that make people more susceptible to abusing alcohol?
Because many people use alcohol to self-medicate, both mental illness and chronic pain are large risk factors for alcohol abuse. Unfortunately, because alcohol is a depressant, these people are actually doing more damage.
While they may get relief from pain or mental struggles for the moment (because alcohol inhibits the central nervous system), in the long run, they’re harming their minds and their bodies and preventing themselves from healing.
The more alcohol you drink, the less that it affects you (which is why people drink greater amounts over time).
A family history of alcoholism or addiction is another risk factor for alcohol abuse, as well as a family or friend group that’s normalized binge drinking even without alcoholism being a factor.
Being in college or in an industry where drinking is the norm (such as bartending) is another risk factor.
What Are the Dangers Associated With Alcohol Abuse?
People seek recovery because alcohol abuse is dangerous. Are you familiar with the harm that it causes?
There are plenty of short-term and long-term dangers that you should be aware of so that you can keep an eye on your own condition.
Short-Term Dangers and Side-Effects
There are some dangers that aren’t only associated with alcoholism, but also with short-term alcohol overuse (including binge drinking). Many people who have experienced the aftermath of too many drinks are familiar with these side-effects.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Mood disruptions
There are dangers associated with this kind of drinking as well. While the previous “hangover” symptoms go away, some dangers are deadly, even when they’re the result of a single night of drinking.
- Recklessness and risky behaviors
- Risky sexual encounters (that could end in STDs)
- Fetal alcohol poisoning (if pregnant)
- Car accidents
- Alcohol poisoning
People are more likely to engage in risk-taking behaviors after they’ve been drinking too much because of how alcohol inhibits the nervous system. You’re unable to make clear decisions.
This is the primary factor behind drunk driving. No one sets out to drive dangerously; they don’t realize that they’re too drunk to drive.
This is also what leads to plenty of injuries from other risk-taking behaviors like swimming while drunk, trying to perform physical feats, and getting into fights.
While a single night of alcohol overuse doesn’t usually have serious results, these also aren’t uncommon.
Long-Term Dangers and Side-Effects
When you abuse alcohol for a long time, you have a greater chance of experiencing negative side-effects and dangers. This is why it’s so important to catch alcohol abuse before it turns into alcoholism.
- Frequent fatigue
- Irritability when sober
- Personality changes
- Poor school or work performance
While these side-effects may seem mild, they’re signs that you need to stop or you’ll start facing serious consequences. Those consequences may include:
- Alcohol poisoning
- Alcohol addiction
- Liver damage or disease
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Memory problems
- A weakened immune system
- Various types of cancers
- exacerbated mental health problems
Many of these dangers can end in severe illness, or worse, death. While it’s not considered as “serious” as addictions to hard drugs, alcohol abuse and addiction can still be disastrous.
How Can Someone Recover From Alcohol Abuse?
If you’re worried that you’ve been abusing alcohol, the first thing that you should do is see if you’re able to cut back on your own. Abusing alcohol doesn’t automatically mean that you have an addiction.
Reduce or omit alcohol from your life for a few weeks and if you feel the need to reintroduce it during social events or gatherings, don’t have more than a single drink.
If this is too difficult and you find yourself craving alcohol or feeling withdrawal symptoms, it’s time to seek out professional help. Withdrawal is dangerous, so having professionals on your side is the best way to go.
There are plenty of recovery options for people who choose to seek treatment. They usually start with detox to rid your body of residual alcohol so you can begin to recover.
After this, you can choose between inpatient and outpatient treatments. Inpatient (or residential) treatment is for serious recovery. People in residential treatment are removed from the stressors of everyday life and put into intensive counseling programs to get them ready to return to a healthy life.
People who can’t afford to stay in a residential treatment center (whether for financial reasons or because of responsibilities) may benefit from outpatient treatment. You still get high-quality counseling and support, but you’re able to continue living at home.
The most important part of recovery is developing an effective support system.
Binge Drinking & Alcohol Abuse Are Serious
Binge drinking & alcohol abuse don’t always end in alcohol addiction, but they still present health risks and addiction is always a possibility.
If you’re worried that you’ve been consuming too much alcohol and you don’t feel capable of handling it on your own, it may be time to seek professional help.
Do you want guidance for your alcohol abuse problem? We’re here to support you. With detox programs, inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, and recovery support, we at Cenikor want to help you heal.
Contact us at 1-888-236-4567 to talk to one of our compassionate advisors about your treatment options.