Binge drinking is becoming increasingly common among young people.
Alcohol is an integral part of our culture. In many households, it is an essential part of family gatherings, and some people cannot imagine having a good time without it. It is a mind-altering drug that can lead to long-term dependence, but unfortunately this is often forgotten in the heat of the moment.
It is precisely the mind-altering, disinhibiting effect of alcohol that encourages people to consume large quantities of it in a short space of time at a party. This phenomenon, known as binge drinking, is extremely dangerous and is particularly prevalent among young people.
Characteristics of binge drinking
The main thing is that you drink large amounts of alcohol in a short space of time. People who binge drink are not alcoholics, they usually do not drink alcohol every day or every week. According to international studies, one in six of those affected by episodes reach for a glass only four times a month.
Binge drinking is most common in people aged 18 to 35, but it can also occur in older and younger people. Binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks in two hours for men and four or more drinks in the same time for women. One drink is equivalent to about 3.5 decilitres of 5% beer or 1.5 decilitres of 12% wine.
Although it is not alcoholism, it is a mistake to think that it is harmless. Episodes of binge drinking can become more frequent over time and alcohol dependence can develop. However, even without this, hangovers are not the biggest problem with binge drinking.
Why is it dangerous?
Binge drinking impairs decision-making and judgment, can lead to dangerous behaviour, impairs coordination and motor skills, and increases the likelihood of falls and injuries. It can raise blood pressure, increase the likelihood of developing liver and heart disease. It may also be associated with a higher risk of mouth, throat, liver, oesophagus and breast cancer.
Around 90 per cent of alcohol is broken down by the liver, which can break down one standard drink per hour in an average person. If a person drinks more alcohol than their liver can process, their blood alcohol levels will rise. Drinking binge increases the risk of alcohol poisoning, which can lead to unconsciousness and, in the worst cases, can be fatal. If you notice signs of alcohol poisoning, confusion, convulsions, slow breathing, irregular heartbeat, paleness, low body temperature, fainting, seek medical help as soon as possible.
Research shows that binge drinking can lead to liver damage in just a few weeks. In mice, a total of 21 binge drinking episodes over a period of seven weeks was enough to show early signs of liver damage.
International recommendations suggest that women should aim for a maximum of one drink a day and men a maximum of two drinks a day.