Drinking alcohol needs no reason or occasion sometimes. Many of us would agree to this, right? While drinking in moderation has actually been proven to have health benefits, the problem begins when that one glass of wine quickly turns into 4 or 5 glasses and before you know it you are unable to stop yourself. It is time we enlighten ourselves with the adverse effects of binge drinking on our body so we can take precautions and look after ourselves.
What is Binge Drinking?
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), binge drinking can be defined as consumption of four drinks for women and five drinks by men within a span of two hours that results in bringing their blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 g/dL. In the US, the age bracket of adults between 26 and older account for 70% of the binge drinking episodes. Of course, each person is different and has different capacities. So while some may get drunk sooner, some don’t feel so affected anytime soon, so the application of this definition varies a lot.
Reasons for Binge Drinking
The number of people binge-drinking continues to rise every year. Some of the common reasons why people binge drink includes the following:
- To forget the troubles in their life, even if temporarily, and loosen up. Drinking more helps to prolong the feeling of relaxation as the mind is not worrying about any problems.
- To have a good time at social events. Some of these events also have games like Beer Pong where there are competitions on who can outdo each other leading to excessive intake of alcohol within a very short time.
- Peer pressures, the desire to fit in and not be laughed upon by the rest of the group often becomes the reason why kids from a very young age take to drinking alcohol.
Effects of Binge Drinking
Frequently drinking too much alcohol can have some seriously negative impact on your body systems:
- Affects the Liver: Approximately 35% of heavy drinkers develop alcoholic hepatitis out of which about 55% already have cirrhosis. Too much alcohol in the body can damage the liver and prevent it from removing toxic substances from your body. Heavy drinking can increase the risks of alcoholic fatty liver and alter the metabolism of fats. Other effects also include long-term inflammation which can cause scar tissue. Over a period of time, this scarring can cause the liver to become hard which is also known as liver cirrhosis.
- Brain Drain: The short-term or immediate effects after drinking too much include slurred speech, difficulty in walking straight, and a blurry vision. Some may even pass out after puking their guts out. While this may be scary, the long-term effects cause even more damage. Research and studies have shown that heavy drinking on a regular basis can cause memory impairment, especially for young adults below the age of 25 as their brains are still developing. It can also affect their cognitive skills. Even though this damage may be reversible in some cases after a year or more of no alcohol that may not always be possible.
- Cancer: Chronic alcohol consumption puts you at a serious risk of developing different cancers, including cancers of the mouth, stomach, liver, colon, breast, and more. People who smoke or chew tobacco with drinking are at an even higher level of risk of developing gastrointestinal and respiratory tract cancer.
- Affects the Heart: Binge drinking causes the blood pressure and the blood lipids to rise. This is the cause of heart attacks, hypertension, strokes, and also increased cholesterol levels. Heavy drinking is also associated with cardiomyopathy which causes the heart muscles to droop and stretch and make it hard to function easily. It causes myocarditis which causes inflammation of the heart muscle and also poses the risk of arrhythmia which causes irregular heartbeats.
- Sugar Levels: The pancreas is responsible for regulating the insulin in your body. Because of binge drinking, your liver and pancreas refuse to function smoothly causing low blood sugar or hypoglycemia (too much sugar in the blood). Thus binge drinking can especially prove more harmful to someone who has diabetes.
How to Stop Binge Drinking
If binge drinking has become a common habit for you that you want to get rid of, start by accepting the fact that you need help to come out of this. A state of denial often prevents a heavy drinker from getting the right treatment at the right time. Seek alcoholic treatments to get your life back. Learn how to live without turning to alcohol as an escape. Alcohol is not friendly to the body and can cause serious damage to your organs and your immune system. Choose to lead a healthy life.