With stressful lifestyles and the pressures of modern life, it’s becoming easier for social drinking patterns to develop into dangerous behaviours. Binge drinking is something that we often don’t realise is happening, though the consequences can be fatal.
What is binge drinking?
The term ‘binge drinking’ refers to the consumption of an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period of time. The term ‘has had a change of meaning over the past twenty years, according to Marcus Grant, President of the International Centre for Alcohol Policies (ICAP). Any pattern of drinking that involves rapid intoxication or intoxication for an extended period of time holds the potential for harm. This can be social, psychological and physical and can even result in death.
According to Grant, a very real danger of binge drinking lies in the risky behaviour drinkers engage in whilst under the influence of alcohol. He notes that the worrying thing about binge drinking is that it leads people to engage in high risk behaviour, which can also become a habit.
In the video below he recounts the story of a group of people who choose to swim in a crocodile-infested river after drinking heavily. Binge drinking not only affects people who are drinking but it can also affect others who are exposed to them or who may rely on them.
This type of behaviour carries the potential for considerable social, psychological and physical harm. It can cause or contribute to:
- Alcohol poisoning
- Accidents, including car accidents
- Damage of the brain
- Damage of the gastrointestinal tract
- Alcohol dependence
- Stroke or cardiovascular problems
- Poor academic and work performance
Staying within drinking guidelines helps avoid the risks of excessive alcohol consumption.
How can you tell if you are a binge drinker?
If you answer “yes” to any of the following statements:
I regularly drink
- to get drunk
- more than the daily unit guidelines in a single session
If you find it hard to stop drinking once you have started, you could also have a problem with binge drinking and possibly alcohol dependence. It’s important to recognise this and act on it.
No matter your age or life situation, binge drinking is irresponsible and dangerous. If you or someone you know is a binge drinker it’s important to get help as soon as possible.
Alcoholics anonymous and LifeLine are both local organisations that support recovery for alcoholics. Visit them for helplines, counselling and more. Al- Anon is another supportive organisation for families of alcoholics.