For many, there is a fine line between binge drinking and alcohol use disorder (AUD). However, if it goes unchecked, binge drinking can often lead to struggles with alcohol addiction.
According to the World Health Organization’s fact sheet on alcohol, about 5% of annual deaths are related to alcohol misuse, proving that alcoholism continues to be a growing concern across the United States.
Individuals can recover from alcohol addiction if they seek treatment. At Excel Treatment Center, we offer clients several services, including individual therapy, withdrawal management, and aftercare support. However, the first step starts with you reaching out for help
Binge Drinking Culture
Some may theorize that alcohol addiction is so prevalent because alcohol use is so prominent in our culture. Think about it, when was the last time you attended a family barbeque or an office party where alcohol was not present? The concepts of having fun and enjoying ourselves are attached to drinking alcohol.
While there is nothing wrong with consuming alcohol, everything is best in moderation. Unfortunately, when it comes to alcohol consumption, many people forget about drinking moderately.
Binge drinking culture typically begins in high school. During our teen years, there is excitement around the idea of doing everything we are not supposed to do. Plus, peer pressure plays a huge part in how much we are willing to experiment in high school.
Beyond high school, college is yet another time associated with partying and drinking. Again, on the surface, harm is minimal. However, when young and impressionable individuals become accustomed to so much alcohol consumption, it quickly opens the door to other problems. Additionally, excessive drinking in our youth can cause many unfortunate decisions that are sometimes hard to recover from.
Developing Alcohol Use Disorder
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), alcohol use disorder (AUD) “is a medical condition characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.” As a chronic brain disorder, the brain of people with AUD changes and makes stopping alcohol consumption challenging, in addition to increasing the risks of relapse. Despite this, it is treatable.
There are many potential causes of AUD. NIAAA also states the risk of developing AUD depends on “how much, how often, and how quickly they consume alcohol.” So, while not everyone binge drinking develops AUD, it could increase your chances.
How much and how often you consume alcohol is just one potential factor. Genetics, environmental, and social factors also play a part. Research also shows that people who start drinking early can be at a greater risk of developing AUD.
While there are several treatment options for AUD, you must first acknowledge that there is a problem. Unfortunately, individuals who are binge drinking or who have AUD may not always recognize the signs within themselves. People can recover, but they have to seek treatment for themselves and have the desire to change.
Defining the Line Between Moderation and Binge Drinking
Excessive alcohol consumption is not just a concern among youth. Many adults have difficulty drawing the line between moderate drinking and binge drinking.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines binge drinking as the consumption of five or more drinks for men or four or more for women. According to the CDC, it is the “most common, costly, and deadly pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States.” Not everyone who binge drink develop alcohol addiction, but binge drinking is still harmful.
Short-Term Effects of Binge Drinking
Excessive alcohol consumption over an extended period of time can be harmful and life-threatening. Some of the potential short-term effects of binge drinking, according to the CDC, include:
- Alcohol poisoning
- Driving while under the influence can lead to accidents, death, and legal trouble
- Violent behaviors, such as homicide or suicide
- Engaging in risky behaviors, like unprotected sex, which may lead to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), unintended pregnancy, or other complications, including fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
These issues can cause long-term consequences. For instance, in most states, if someone dies when you commit a felony DUI, you can be charged with felony murder.
Long-Term Health Concerns
There are also many long-term effects and health concerns of binge drinking. Binge drinking wreaks havoc on many different areas of the body. Heavy alcohol consumption is known to cause adverse problems to the liver, but it can lead to other concerns.
Common long-term effects of binge drinking include:
- Chronic conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and liver disease
- Cancer, including cancer of the mouth and liver, to name a few
- A weakened immune system
- Impaired cognitive function, memory problems, and dementia
- The development of other mental health disorders
Untreated AUD or binge drinking can lead to these complications in your life. That is why drinking moderately and seeking treatment for AUD are vital.
Binge drinking is a common phenomenon, more common than some may realize. In general, alcohol consumption has a heavy presence across many cultures. The heavy presence of alcohol may make it hard for you or a loved one to draw the line between moderate and excessive alcohol consumption. While not everyone who drinks heavily develops alcohol use disorder (AUD), it is a potential consequence of excessive drinking. If you struggle to control your alcohol consumption or fear you have AUD, it’s important that you reach out to Excel Treatment Center for help. We provide inpatient, partial hospitalization, and outpatient programs to ensure people get treatment that matches their schedule. When you’re ready to heal, call (877) 331-4114.