The Dangers of Binge Drinking Being Socially Acceptable

The Dangers of Binge Drinking Being Socially Acceptable

A leisurely scroll of your social media feeds will flood your phone with photos of alcohol and seemingly harmless captions. The #WineWednesday references and #ThirstyThursday pictures show smiles and social scenes, but what isn’t pictured is the alarming rate at which we’ve developed a social acceptance of binge drinking. The dangers of binge drinking are numerous, and our promotion of the drinking-is-self-care culture is causing many to lose sight of the imminent downfall that comes from too much alcohol.

What is Binge Drinking?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports most people who engage in binge drinking do not have a severe alcohol use disorder.1 So, erase from your mind the idea that binge drinking is uncontrollable consumption of alcohol most nights of the week.

dangers of binge drinking

Binge drinking is defined as “a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 g/dl or above.”2 A binge drinking event for women typically occurs when four or more drinks are consumed within two hours. For men, five or more drinks within the same period constitute a binge drinking occurrence.

Social Acceptance of Binge Drinking

The problem with classifying oneself as a “social drinker” is that there is no clear definition of what that means. Perhaps a glass of wine at dinner with friends is social, or downing four or five beers at a friend’s birthday bash is your version of a social drink.

Because the definition of a social drinker is so subjective, we’ve developed a social acceptance of binge drinking. We may later refer to the moment as a friend having “one too many.” However, Dr. Brad Lander, an addiction medicine expert at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, says there’s a more clear-cut way to looking at social drinking than we may first consider.

why is binge drinking socially acceptable?

“Social drinking does not interfere with your life,” clarifies Lander in an interview with HuffPost.3 “That is, it doesn’t cause problems with work or home responsibilities, family, health, social relationships or create legal or financial problems.”

Many people classify moments of heavy drinking as special events or rare occasions. However, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) says that a person who has consumed large amounts of alcohol on five or more days over the past month drinking is entering problem territory.4

Young adults aren’t the only ones who binge drink. Statistics show the pattern of heavy drinking affects nearly every age group, including those 65 and older.5 In fact, one in six adults in the U.S. binge drinks at least four times a month, consuming about seven drinks per binge.6

Dangers of Binge Drinking

Media and your peers would have you believe that binge drinking can be cured with cold pizza and coffee. In reality, alcohol is constantly changing how you think and perceive the events around you.

Binge drinking begins to affect your body immediately. Quickly consuming four to six drinks causes:

  • Numerous changes in your brain and nervous system
  • A lapse in your judgment and decision-making skills
  • You to be more reckless and uninhibited
  • A feeling of lightheadedness
  • Adverse effects on your coordination and reaction time

Alcohol creates an environment for risks that drinkers would not consider were it not for the effects of over-drinking.

why binge drinking is a form of alcoholism

While binge drinking does not infer someone would be diagnosed with alcohol use disorder (about 90% of people who drink excessively would not be expected to meet the clinical diagnostic criteria)7, it can affect several aspects of their life.

Accidental injuries, including motor vehicles crashes, burns, falls, and even drowning, are among the most commonly reported incidents due to binge drinking.8 The dangers of binge drinking don’t stop once a person regains sobriety. Research shows those who partake in binge drinking at a young age are more likely to develop alcohol use disorder later in life.9

why binge drinking is so dangerous

How to Stop Drinking Heavily

If a casual night out with friends often turns into heavy drinking, it’s time to reexamine your behavior. Rather than denying the idea that your drinking could be a problem, take inventory of your alcohol consumption.

Remember that there is no specific look or lifestyle for those who suffer from excessive drinking or alcohol use disorder. Just because you have a family or a good job doesn’t mean your alcohol use is dangerous or unhealthy. In fact, this is a common myth about alcoholism.

The experienced and caring staff at Clear Life Recovery understand how social pressures, anxiety, and other mental health challenges can lead to a reliance on alcohol. Our certified counselors can help you determine the best way to evaluate your drinking and move forward with a plan that allows you to live authentically. Contact our team at Clear Life Recovery to begin your journey toward a life of sobriety and happiness.