How to Stop Binge Drinking
How to Stop Binge Drinking
Table of Contents
88,000 people die each year from alcohol-related situations. Alcohol is the cause of split-homes, emotional trauma, failed endeavors, and more. Binge drinking causes a good portion of those problems.
What Exactly is Binge Drinking?
Before we can learn how to stop binge drinking, we need to know what it is. Binge drinking is when a woman consumes 4 or more drinks or when a man consumes 5 or more drinks in one sitting. It’s also defined as a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more. It’s worth noting that most binge drinkers aren’t necessarily alcoholics. However, the cost of binge drinking, $249 billion in the U.S. in 2014, makes even “casual” binge drinking dangerous.
More About Alcohol
Facts about Binge Drinking
Who needs to stop binge drinking? Here are some quick facts about it.
Men Binge More
Men are far more likely to binge drink or develop alcoholism but over the last decade woman have been catching up. There’s been a steady increase in women binge drinking according to several studies.
Binge Drinkers Receive More DUIs
Binge drinkers are 14x more likely to drive under the influence than non-binge drinkers. The answer to how to stop binge drinking can sometimes be found while in court for DUI charges. This is not ideal. If you or anyone you know routinely binge drinks and drives – please seek help immediately.
Binge Drinkers Have More Unplanned Pregnancies
There’s a direct correlation between binge drinking and unplanned pregnancies. 14% of unplanned pregnancies are due to binge drinking. That should drive women to learn how to stop binge drinking.
Binge Drinking Lessens with Age
Statistically, binge drinking peaks in the mid to late 30s. This could be due to life changes or an increased bodily rejection of alcohol. Less than 11% of senior citizens are reported binge drinking.
Adolescent Binging Has Long-term Effects
The younger a person binge drinks, the higher chance they have of developing alcoholism, fatty liver, and cancer.
How to Stop Binge Drinking in College
A combination of decision impairing hormones and social pressures make binge drinking in college common. Take note that while we’ll focus on binge drinking in academics, there are many institutions that have a drinking subculture. This includes but is not limited to military service, artistic communities, and some manual labor jobs.
In truth, extreme binge drinking at any level of life can be devastating. But because the college years directly affect lifetime income, personality development, and more, the dangers are amplified.
Facts about College Binge Drinking
Alcohol inhibits the brain’s ability to learn by shortening the attention span and disrupting neural connections. And because of alcohol’s effect on mood, there is an increased likelihood of receiving negative marks and scholastic warnings. One of the biggest immediate side effects of falling grades is hefty student loan debt that can take years to pay back.
50% of reported sexual assaults on campus involve binge drinking. Important to note that while a woman and man may consume the same amount of alcohol; the woman is more likely to become drunk, regardless of weight, due to the lower water levels in the body.
Later Life Alcoholism
Alcoholism doesn’t develop overnight. It takes years of consistent drinking before the body builds a real dependency. College-aged students that binge drink are more likely to build that dependency later in life.
What Does Binge Drinking do to the Body?
Binge drinking has many well-documented effects on the brain and body. Some effects are reversible and some aren’t. In extreme cases, all effects of binge drinking can lead to death by alcohol poisoning.
Short-Term Effects of Binge Drinking
In this stage, the brain loses the ability to form new memories. Alcohol interrupts a process called memory consolidation in which the brain moves memories from short term into long term memory banks.
Binge drinking lowers the levels of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide helps the lungs absorb oxygen. Low levels of nitric oxide cause shallow breathing. This is most prevalent in people with asthma and other breathing issues.
Low Body Temperature
This effect is most dangerous in colder climates and can cause hypothermia. Alcohol causes the body to release more heat which in turn drops the internal body temperature. This is due to alcohol’s ability to widen blood vessels.
Alcohol prohibits higher brain function and prohibits logic. This causes confusion that can lead to frustrated violence. In extreme cases, it can result in alcoholic delirium which itself includes an inability to recognize self, visual and auditory hallucinations, and slurred speech patterns.
Binge drinking interrupts the natural levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. Serotonin and dopamine are the “happy” chemicals that we feel after success or joy. Alcohol causes an initial surge but also entirely depletes the brain of its supply. The result is depression, irritability, and irrational thinking.
The Long-term Effects of Binge Drinking
In men, alcohol abuse causes low sperm count and mobility by lowering testosterone levels. Testosterone is also important for hair and muscle growth. In women, alcohol can cause heavy, unpredictable periods by increasing estrogen levels. Extreme estrogen levels can result in serious complications.
Alcohol prohibits the body from absorbing key vitamins and nutrients. The result is malnutrition which leads to fragile bones, poor muscular structure, and long healing times.
Also known as sponge brain or its more scientific name, Wernicke encephalopathy, is an end-stage alcoholism condition. It’s the culmination of a lifetime of hard-drinking. The human brain requires vitamin B1 but this vitamin isn’t produced by the body. We get B1 mostly from diet and because binge drinkers eat less and have a reduced ability to absorb nutrients, the condition becomes a potential and deadly outcome.
What is Alcohol Poisoning?
Alcohol poisoning occurs when the blood alcohol level is around 0.30-0.39%. That’s over 4x the federal limit for driving. Alcohol poisoning can happen to anyone that ingests too much alcohol in a short amount of time.
Signs of Alcohol Poisoning
The signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:
|Clammy hands||Labored breathing|
|Passing out||Pale skin|
|Seizures||Inability to stay steady|
Dangers of Alcohol Poisoning
The dangers of alcohol poisoning include:
Permanent brain damage
Severe physical injury
Encounters with law enforcement
Harming another person
Loss of property
The Overall Dangers of Binge Drinking
Let’s get real for a second. Alcohol can hold a sort of mythic appeal. Maybe the coolest person you know drinks or maybe you drink to slow things down for a moment. In moderation, it doesn’t matter why you drink but the same is true for excess.
The overall dangers of binge drinking include:
Increased chance of sexual assault
Just to name a few.
How to Stop Binge Drinking
Anyone in recovery from addiction will tell you that stopping starts with recognizing the problem. This means how to stop binge drinking begins with admitting that binge drinking has become a problem. Take note that you don’t have to develop an alcohol dependency to ask how to stop binge drinking. All you need is awareness.
Addiction is a chronic condition, which means there is no cure. However, with treatment, it is possible for the condition to go into remission, where symptoms and cravings are reduced. There are a couple of ways to go about it.
Binge drinking is a chemical dependence that manifests as a psychological urge. As such, therapy is a great place to start. A recovery center or local alcoholic’s anonymous group could help someone in recovery fortify their mental position against drinking. And provide an expansive network of support.
There are several pharmaceutical drugs like Disulfiram, Campral, and Naltrexone that are designed to reduce alcohol cravings. And they don’t all work the same. Some drugs cause nausea to reduce cravings while others remove the happy feeling that drunkenness induces, and others address withdrawal symptoms.