What Is Binge Drinking?


What is binge drinking?
Binge drinking is the consumption of alcohol that raises a person’s blood alcohol concentration to 0.8 or above, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. For men, this usually takes five or more drinks in two hours, and for women, it usually takes four or more drinks. In contrast, the recommended amount of alcohol consumption for women is no more than one drink a day and no more than two for men.

Why is binge drinking dangerous?
Most people who binge drink do not have a substance use disorder. However, the consequences of binge drinking are still severe, and extended periods of binge drinking can lead to alcohol dependence.

There are a lot of health risks associated with alcohol consumption, such as an increased likelihood of contracting certain cancers and difficulty with memory and learning. With excessive alcohol consumption, additional risks such as unintentional injury like blackouts, alcoholic coma, and alcohol poisoning are higher than with moderate use.

Rates of violence, including domestic and sexual abuse, also increase when drinking is involved. An estimated 50 percent of sexual assaults involve alcohol.

For women, binge drinking additionally increases the likelihood of an unplanned or a difficult pregnancy.

How common is it?
Binge drinking typically evokes images of college students in fraternity houses and, in fact, young drinkers consume more than 90 percent of their alcohol by binge drinking.
However, they are not the only ones. One in six adults in the United States engages in binge drinking four times a month. Over 50 percent of those who binge drink are between the ages of 18 to 34. It is also most prevalent among men, as men are twice as likely as women to binge. However, in the past couple of years, studies show women have begun to close the gap in alcohol consumption.

What should I do if I am or someone I know is struggling with binge drinking?
Attempts to quit without professional help are mostly unsuccessful, and they can also be fatal. Seeking professional help is the safest and most reliable way to stop drinking

Is Having A Few Drinks After Work A Sign Of Alcohol Abuse?

Meeting colleagues for post-work cocktails every now and again is much different than making it a habit of drinking excessively after work.

Substance abuse not only creates havoc to one’s health, it also can impact job performance. Coworkers are usually among the first to notice a colleague develop a problem because people spend so much time together in the workplace. They may even see an alcohol problem develop before a spouse does.

alcohol abuseHere are some signs and symptoms that drinking after hours is affecting one’s job performance:

  • Late for work, leave early or absent
  • Irritable and impatient with others
  • Poor concentration
  • Frequently hung over at work

“If a person drinks excessively during off-work hours and consistently comes to work hung over, can the boss trust the  work being done throughout the day  is accurate? Individuals with such a pattern are essentially undermining their livelihood and career and may not even realize it until it’s too late,” says Dr. Phil Welches, Clinical Director of Gateway Foundation Alcohol & Drug Treatment.

The good news is help is available if someone is ready to make a positive change.  Outpatient substance abuse treatment programs are offered in the morning, afternoon and evenings. This allows someone to get the treatment they need without interfering with important daily commitments like work or family.  For more information, please call our 24-Hour Helpline at 877-505-HOPE (4673).

Factors Linked to Hangovers

what causes a hangoverIf you ever experienced a hangover after heavy drinking, you know it is no laughing matter. The sufferer typically has a headache, feels sick, dizzy, sleepy, irritable and thirsty. A person with a hangover may also experience elevated levels of anxiety, regret, shame, embarrassment as well as depression.

The severity of a hangover is closely linked to:

  • The amount of alcohol consumed.
  • Whether the sufferer had enough sleep; the less sleep the worse the hangover.
  • Whether the sufferer was already dehydrated before the drinking began.
  • Whether the sufferer had drank enough water during the drinking session.
  • Whether the sufferer had ate a meal before drinking started.
  • The amount of sleep the sufferer got afterwards.

What are the signs and symptoms of a hangover?

The signs and symptoms of a hangover generally start to occur when the drinker’s blood alcohol drops considerably–typically, the morning after a night of high alcohol consumption, and may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Body and muscle aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy, tiredness, fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Problems focusing or concentrating
  • Sensitivity to loud sounds
  • Depression
  • Moodiness
  • Stomachache
  • Trembling or shakiness
  • Vomiting

Clearly, a night of fun can take a turn for the worse and wreak havoc in the form of a hangover. Since alcohol is toxic, it really is important to be kind to your body and drink responsibly.

If you or someone you know frequently experiences hangovers, it may be a sign of a drinking problem or alcohol abuse. For a free and confidential consultation, please call Gateway Foundation’s 24-Hour Helpline at 877-505-HOPE (4673).

Concerned Your Spouse is a Functioning Alcoholic?

A functioning alcoholic is someone who can hold down a job, pursue a career or care for children while continuing with his or her alcoholism. Some can do these things successfully, but the question becomes, how well are they handling their role of spouse, parent, driver, financial manager or community volunteer while under the influence?

It’s important for someone who is a functioning alcoholic to understand the health risks for them may be just as serious as they are for someone who has a more obvious addiction to alcohol.

Take the Alcoholism Test created by Dr. Neill Neill, Ph.D., R.Psych., Author of Living with a Functioning Alcoholic: A Woman’s Survival Guide. Dr. Neill’s Alcoholism Test is designed for anyone who suspects their partner may be a functioning alcoholic.

Alcoholism Test

1. Your spouse sometimes admits to a drinking problem; quipped about being a functioning alcoholic.

Key Insight: Intuition is usually right.

2. Your spouse has lost days at work or school because of drinking. He/she has gotten into fights when drinking and lost friends due to drinking. There has been a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Key Insight: These and many other negative things begin to happen when the alcohol consumption has become a compulsion. What counts is not an isolated incident, but whether there is a pattern of such events.

3. Your spouse says he/she needs alcohol to reduce tension or stress, and a drink helps in building self-confidence.

Key Insight: Many high-functioning alcoholics have low self-esteem. The real issue is whether or not your partner has become dependent on the alcohol to overcome another mental health problem, low self-esteem.

4. Your partner often has a drink in the morning. Sometimes you find your spouse drinking alone or he/she gets drunk without meaning to. Your partner forgets what he/she did or said during the previous evening of drinking.

Key Insight: The first three statements suggest that drinking has become a compulsion and is suggestive of addictive drinking. The last item describes alcoholic blackout, again characteristic of longer-term alcohol abuse.

5. Your partner has sometimes denied drinking when he/she obviously was drinking. You know that he/she hides alcohol so others won’t see it. Your partner gets resentful, defensive and angry if anyone comments on his/her drinking.

Key Insight: Denial is the major line of defense for most problem drinkers.

6. You often worry about your partner’s drinking and lose sleep over it. You make threats that you don’t follow through on. You sometimes make excuses or cover for your spouse when he/she has been drinking.

Key Insight: Your partner may well be a functioning alcoholic, but you have become codependent. All of these behaviors do more to support his alcoholism than to remedy it.

Understanding whether or not your partner is an alcoholic is not simply a matter of counting drinks or counting answers to a questionnaire. The issue is quite complex. The Alcohol Test exercise may help you see more clearly what your unique situation really is. If you have questions about your spouse’s drinking, Gateway Foundation has the answers you need. For a free and confidential consultation, contact Gateway Foundation at (877) 505-HOPE (4673).

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