What is Binge Drinking: Signs, Side Effects, and Treatment

binge drinking

Some people may have a problem with alcohol abuse and not realize it. While the perception of an alcoholic is someone who drinks every day or even takes a drink when they get out of bed in the morning, there’s another equally damaging form of alcohol abuse – binge drinking, defined as consumption of large amounts of alcohol over a short period of time (2 hours) resulting in a BAC of over 0.08%.

People who tend to “party on the weekend” or drink heavily once a week can cause just as much damage to their brain, heart, and liver as those who drink more than 2-3 drinks daily.

Binge Drinking Is a Sign of Alcohol Abuse

Not everyone who has binge drinking sessions may have an actual alcohol abuse problem, but regular binge drinking increases the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder (AUD). Some indications that you may have an AUD are:

  • Strong cravings for alcohol
  • Inability to reduce alcohol use
  • An increased amount of time needed to recover from using alcohol (long hangovers)
  • Failure to complete tasks for school or work
  • Increased tolerance
  • Continuing to drink despite having health problems caused by alcohol

Binge drinking affects brain function in the same manner that daily drinking more than 2 drinks (for women) and three drinks (for men) does. This includes short-term memory impairment and cognitive decline. People who binge drink are the riskiest category of drinkers for experiencing blackouts or lapses in memory.

Emotional Effects of Binge Drinking

It’s not just your body that’s harmed by drinking binges. Your mental health and emotional well-being are also affected. Binge drinkers are more likely to have lower positive moods due to repeated physiologic withdrawals from alcohol. They may have diminished emotional competence and endure more prolonged periods of negative spirits.

Unfortunately, these individuals may, in turn, choose to drink to combat these low moods and relieve the anxiety and stress that alcohol withdrawal causes. Over time, they’re also more likely to develop prolonged feelings of depression and higher levels of stress and anxiety. If you regularly engage in binge drinking, you may note that you’re having a harder time dealing with everyday stress in your life, too, becoming more frustrated over small things and having a harder time regulating your emotions.

Physical Consequences of Binge Drinking

Alcohol in large quantities is toxic to your delicate brain cells and leads to significant damage to the esophagus, including difficulty swallowing, choking on food, or hemorrhaging. Other health effects of binge drinking are:

  • Chronic and acute pancreatitis
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Esophageal varices and esophagitis
  • Chronic abdominal pain
  • Acute myopathy
  • Acute gastritis

Increased blood pressure and higher risks of heart disease and stroke are also associated with binge drinking.

Are You Struggling With Binge Drinking?

If you or someone you love has a problem with binge drinking, a professional alcohol abuse treatment facility can help. Don’t attempt to quit drinking suddenly (“going cold turkey”), as this can be incredibly dangerous. Instead, opt for medically supervised detox to help ease withdrawal symptoms. Then, once your body is detoxified, the work on your addiction begins. Addiction can be rooted in several factors, and the compassionate team at Hickory Treatment Centers can help you discover the causes and take steps towards sobriety. Call us today to schedule a consultation.

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If you have tried to stop using alcohol or drugs on your own, you may feel that sobriety and clean living seem far away. However, with the help of caring staff members and a safe, structured environment, you can receive the guidance you need to fight cravings and regain control of your life.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment with our admission staff or learn more about our healing programs.