You may recognize that number as the legal limit for drinking and driving. But whether you’re driving or not, it’s also the benchmark for determining whether you are binge drinking. What does that mean?
Especially among younger drinkers, binge drinking is the most common type of excessive alcohol use in the United States. As defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking means drinking so much in a short time that your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) rises to 0.08 percent or above. In short, it means drinking to the point of intoxication.
This generally happens when males consume five or more drinks, and when females consume four or more drinks in an approximately two-hour timespan. And the statistics for our country are sobering:
- One in six adults binge-drinks about four times a month, consuming about eight drinks per binge.
- While binge drinking is most common among young adults aged 18–34 years, and college students commonly binge-drink, binge drinkers 65 years and up do it more often—an average of five to six times a month.
- Men are twice as likely to binge-drink than women.
- Binge drinkers are fourteen times more likely to drive under the influence
- More than half of the alcohol consumed by adults in the United States is in the form of binge drinks.
So, if you’re not driving, what’s the big deal about binge drinking? Because of it’s excessive nature, binge drinking has been linked to several serious health issues:
- Unintentional injuries, such as car accidents, falls, burns, drowning, and hyperthermia
- Intentional injuries, such as firearm assault, sexual assault, and physical assaults or domestic violence
- Alcohol poisoning
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Unintended pregnancy
Over the long term, binge drinking can lead to:
- Children born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
- High blood pressure, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases
- Liver disease and pancreatitis
- Neurological damage
- Sexual dysfunction
- Poor control of diabetes
- Physical and mental addiction
It’s important to note that binge drinking does not mean you are an alcoholic. However, that doesn’t make binge drinking okay. It can have serious consequences for your health and the safety of others.
If you’ve realized that you’re a binge drinker, and you’re ready to stop, try swearing off alcohol for a month or more. This will clear your system, your brain and allow you to think about why you’re binge drinking. You may want to appoint someone to be your accountability partner, to support you and check up on you as you work toward more positive behavior.
If you realize you’re having trouble moderating your drinking, it may be time to talk to your doctor or a licensed addiction therapist. Call Horizon Health Services at (716) 831-1800. We can help.