Binge drinking: Definition, effects, and how to stop – Medical News Today

Binge drinking: Definition, effects, and how to stop – Medical News Today

Binge drinking is when a person consumes enough alcoholic beverages during a 2-hour period to bring their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08% or higher. Typically, this means four drinks for women and five drinks for men.

Binge drinking can lead to several short-term and long-term effects. Someone who binge drinks may experience impaired judgment, nausea, vomiting, and even unconsciousness. Over time, a binge drinker is at a higher risk for severe health problems such as liver disease, pancreatitis, and certain types of cancers.

There are several options available for people who currently binge drink. These may help them gain control of their drinking habits or even stop drinking altogether. Some options may include finding replacement activities or seeking professional help.

This article explains some of the health risks associated with binge drinking, tips to reduce those risks, and ways people can get help to control their drinking.

Binge drinking is a type of excessive drinking, where people consume a large quantity of alcohol in a short period of time.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking alcohol, typically within a 2-hour period, which brings a person’s BAC to 0.08% or higher. A person’s BAC is the percentage of alcohol in their blood, and in the United States, a BAC of 0.08% means the person is legally intoxicated.

Bodies absorb alcohol at different rates. How quickly a person’s body absorbs alcohol may depend on their sex, age, and body size. But it typically takes four or more standard drinks for women and five or more standard drinks for men to reach a BAC of 0.08% during a 2-hour binge drinking period.

For reference, a standard drink in the U.S. is equal to 0.6 ounces (oz) of pure alcohol. Common beverages that contain this amount of pure alcohol include:

  • 12 oz of beer (5% alcohol content)
  • 8 oz of malt liquor (7% alcohol content)
  • 5 oz of wine (12% alcohol content)
  • 1.5 oz or a “shot” of 80-proof liquor (40% alcohol content)

While binge drinking seems a common trend among young adults aged 18–34, it is also a growing trend among older adults.

For example, a 2018 meta-analysis found a significant increase in alcohol use and binge drinking over the past 10–15 years, but not among all demographics. It was middle-aged and older adults who showed the most substantial increase in binge drinking. That increase may be contributing to the increasing rates of alcohol-related illnesses and death.

Keep in mind that binge drinking is not the same as alcohol use disorder (AUD). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 90% of people who drink excessively do not meet the criteria for AUD. But that does not mean binge drinking is a healthy …….


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