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The Dangers of Binge Drinking

Posted in Alcoholism

Alcohol offers a double-edged sword. For some people, it represents an evening of relaxation where just one glass will do the trick. For others, it takes several drinks to achieve the level of euphoria the drinker is seeking. Still others fail to make it through the day without a steady stream of alcohol running through their system.

These three types of drinkers are generally well-known and even well understood. But, another type of drinker is perhaps taking even greater risks, but often remains under the radar: the binge drinker.

The binge drinker is defined as one who consumes several drinks in close succession. It is not uncommon for these drinkers to go days without a drop of alcohol. Most studies indicate that binge drinkers tend to drink about twice a week. However, during those days they drink fast and furiously, with their blood alcohol level spiking into dangerous territory.

Statistics on binge drinkers show that this activity peaks between the ages of 18 and 22 and can begin as early as 13 years of age. In these instances, binge drinkers are kids who are under some sort of pressure to participate in drinking opportunities. Whether it is to appear cool or to achieve some type of high from the experience, binge drinking does come with a price.

Aside from the dangers that exist with consuming large amounts of alcohol, binge drinking also presents a number of health-related risks:

  • Liver disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Unintentional pregnancy
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Neurological damage
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • Unintentional injuries
  • Intentional injuries

Beyond these obvious health issues that can result from binge drinking, partaking in this activity can also increase a young person’s likelihood of developing alcohol dependence. While binge drinking can seem like a fun game or a cool pastime, the impact can be life-threatening. With an increased chance of alcohol poisoning, a person can suffer severe symptoms, including vomiting, depressed respirations and seizures. Without medical attention, alcohol poisoning can lead to death.

A number of measures have been considered and even implemented to combat the instances of binge drinking in the US. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has suggested that a successful method would include increasing the cost of alcohol or the excise taxes, restricting the number of stores granted a license to sell liquor, and implementing stricter enforcement of underage drinking.

This approach is considered by many to be controversial at best. It can be argued that such a method only addresses the symptoms of the problem and not the cause. This may require a deeper study in the psyche of the binge drinker and why he or she engages in the risky activity.

Then, the research must take it a step further and identify what type of motivators should be employed to change the behavior. The use of laws are unlikely to make a difference. After all, binge drinkers sometimes start as early as 13, a good eight years before they can legally drink.