Binge Drinking Effects: What It Does to Your Body
Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited :December 09,
2020 | 4 Sources
Binge drinking effects can not only impact your professional and personal life but it can also have serious ramifications on your mental and physical well being. Episodes of binge drinking are common among college students as well as adults who are 26 years and older. Ninety two percent of excessive drinkers in the United States report at least one instance of binge drinking in the past 30 days. Statistics also show that about one in six US adults binge drinks approximately four times per month, consuming an estimated seven alcoholic beverages per binge.
This just goes to show that binging on alcohol is no longer an isolated issue; it is fast gaining epidemic proportions. To understand binge drinking effects let's look at how it impacts the social and professional life of a person and its impact on the relationships and the physical and mental health of the drinker.
The only way to prevent the damaging effects of binge drinking is to either moderate your drinking or to abstain completely from alcohol.
Binge Drinking Effects: The Medical Aspect
- Brain damage: When consumed in excessive quantities, alcohol acts as a neurotoxin, destroying the brain cells. Studies have shown that adolescents are particularly susceptible to this damaging effect of alcohol. Youngsters prone to binge drinking also had impaired reasoning, cognitive function and memory. The consumption of alcohol at an early age can actually shrink the size of the hippocampus by as much as 10%, hippocampus is region of the brain responsible for reasoning and memory.
- Alcohol Poisoning: A common occurrence among binge drinkers, alcohol poisoning refers to the acute toxic effects of alcohol that is related to significantly
high blood alcohol concentrations. Severe intoxication can cause muscular inco-ordination, stupor, double/blurred vision, convulsions, respiratory depression, coma, hypertension, depressed reflexes and hypoglycemia. Intense inebriation can lead to a fatality due to circulatory and respiratory failure caused by choking on vomit, if the person passes out from excessive drinking.
- Gastrointestinal problems: Binge drinking can damage the esophagus resulting in acute hemorrhage and gastritis that causes vomiting, nausea and acute pancreatitis, a condition marked by intense abdominal pain and metabolic complications. If not treated in time, the disorder can quickly turn serious and lead to death.
- Blood pressure: Alcohol consumption in excess of 3 to 4 units per day can increase blood pressure leading to hypertension.
- Strokes: Binge drinking also greatly increases the risk of ischemic and acute hemorrhagic strokes; the latter is caused due to a significant increase in the blood pressure coupled with spasm of the cerebral arteries.
- Cardiac issues: Excessive alcohol consumption impacts myocardial contraction which in turn reduces the output of blood and increases the risk of cardiac arrest. Binge drinking also doubles the risk of cardiac arrhythmia which can lead to sudden death due to heart failure. As a matter of fact, 30% to 60% of all cases of atrial fibrillation can be attributed to excessive alcohol consumption and one quarter of all sudden cardiac related deaths in young men can be traced to alcohol intoxication.
- Cancer: Alcohol greatly increases the risk of breast cancer in women; one drink a day can augment the chances of getting the disease by as much as 6%. Binge drinking coupled
with smoking can also increase the risk of developing oral cancer.
- Musculo-Skeletal Damage: Acute myopathy can also be attributed to binge drinking; the symptoms of the ailment include muscle pain, swelling and inflammation coupled with progressive weakness in the calves and legs.
- Pregnancy complications and birth defects: Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can not only lead to complications but also cause birth defects and deformities in the unborn child, leading to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
- Liver Damage: Persistent binge drinking can also damage the liver causing cirrhosis and alcoholic hepatitis; both are serious conditions with symptoms like fever, acute abdominal pain and jaundice. Liver damage is not reversible and the only hope for patients with progressive liver failure is a transplant.
Binge Drinking Effects: The Physical Aspects
Because acute intoxication causes the loss of physical and mental control, alcohol can prove detrimental to the physical well being of a person, some of the issues that can be associated with binge drinking include:
- Unintentional injuries caused due to stumbling, falling , burning and drowning.
- Violence, including homicide, sexual assault, and domestic violence.
- Intentional injuries afflicted on oneself in an inebriated state including firearm injuries, accidents etc.
- Higher risk of exposure to HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.
- Unintended pregnancy.
Binge Drinking Effects: The Social Consequences
A study conducted to understand the impact of excessive alcohol consumption on the social life of a person found that youngsters prone to binge drinking have an increased risk of
economic, educational and social adversity in adult life
. Continuous exposure to high amounts of alcohol also augments the risk of addiction and substance abuse, criminal conviction and lower socioeconomic status. Excessive alcohol consumption can have long standing ramifications on an individual’s social life as these people are more prone to:
- Violent behavior: Alcohol impacts motor functions and cognitive perceptions; studies have indicated that alcohol has played a casual role in accidents and violent behavior of all types.
- Drunk driving: Binge drinkers also have a propensity for drunk driving which leads to hundreds of fatalities across the country each year.
- Criminal tendencies: Youngsters habituated to binge drinking are twice as likely to commit an offense than people of the same age who do not indulge in excessive drinking.
Binge Drinking Effects: The Mental Ramifications
The brain often bears the brunt of alcohol abuse; people used to excessive alcohol consumption do irrevocable damage to their neuron, killing the brain cells
. This manifests in the form of learning difficulties and memory issues, blackouts and a consistent disoriented and confused state.
- Impact on Performance and functioning: Alcohol consumption has been shown to have a negative impact on a number of performance and functioning aspects. Even a single episode of
binge drinking can cause severe impairment in memory during hangover.
- Mars physical performance: Excessive drinking is also known to significantly reduce the performance of even healthy athletes.
Binge Drinking Effects: Psychological Problems
Binge drinking causes anxiety and neurosis and can be blamed for a higher level of psychological morbidity and can impact the behavior of a person.For example individuals prone to binge drinking reported less positive moods than non binge drinkers.
Other adverse psychological effects of binge drinking include:
- Chronic depression
- Obsessive drinking spells
- Self pity
- Cloudy thinking and judgment
- Moral deterioration
- Increased risk of anxiety
Binge Drinking Effects on Personal and Professional Life
Research has revealed that alcohol abuse sets the US economy back by a whopping $100 billion each year while alcoholism is the cause for more than 500 million lost work days annually.
Alcohol abuse is a devastating addiction that can slowly engulf an individual’s personal and professional life.
If allowed to continue it can progress to full-blown alcoholism, a disease that is a slow killer.
Most people fail to identify their problem drinking because they are in denial of their issues with alcohol abuse. Binge drinking can have a serious impact on a person’s social standing at home and at work<.
Some of the issues encountered include:
- Skipped work
- Failed promises
- Missed deadlines
- Arguments and temper tantrums at work
- Domestic violence
- Mood swings
- Withdrawal from society
- Shunning of responsibilities
- Suicidal tendencies
- Physical and verbal abuse of loved ones
Alcohol plays a significant role in the break up of thousands of families each year
Many alcoholics also find themselves unemployed which further strains the relationship at home. Unfortunately, this often causes them to lose their partner and they may find themselves
homeless without family, friends or money.
Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl
Licensed Medical Health Professional
I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More
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