There are many substances to which a person might become addicted. They range from the legal to the illegal with there even being a couple that lie somewhere in between such as marijuana and prescription drugs. Additionally, there are a number of behaviors that have been found to be quite addictive and wield the potential to reap nearly as much destruction on one’s life as a substance abuse problem. The fact of the matter is that, whether one is addicted to a substance or a behavior, this is a disease that has many major effects on both the individual and his or her family. The varied effects of addiction can even be felt on a societal or cultural level, making citizens and public officials alike increasingly concerned as rates of chemical dependency continue to climb.
Although there’s no such thing as a “safe drug,” there are certain substances that are considered more dangerous than others. For instance, heroin is considered to be significantly more dangerous and more highly addictive than marijuana, which is not a lethal substance. Depending on the variables in consideration, opinions can vary when it comes to determining the most addictive substance; however, despite the tendency for narcotics like heroin to be especially lethal, there’s no denying the evidence, which has shown that there are more people using and abusing alcohol than any other substance. This means that there are more people addicted to alcohol than any other drug as well. Moreover, the impact of alcohol abuse cannot be overstated as statistics estimate that 40 percent of all violent crimes are perpetrated by individuals under the influence of alcohol. In fact, alcohol is a factor in more violent crimes like rape, mugging, assault, and domestic violence than any other substance.
Clearly, alcohol can be a dangerous substance. However, not everyone becomes addicted to alcohol and falls under the spell of active alcoholism, which can be a deadly disease. Before a person can become an alcoholic, he or she must abuse alcohol, which often involves binge drinking. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about binge drinking; as such, the following will define binge drinking to explain its effects and discuss the relationship of binge drinking to alcoholism.
What Exactly Is Binge Drinking?
According to estimates, an astounding one out of every six Americans could be considered a binge drinker due to their binge drinking at least four times per month; however, many of these individuals may not realize that they are binge drinkers as there’s much uncertainty surrounding perceptions of what qualifies as actual binge-drinking behavior. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified binge drinking as the most common form of alcohol abuse behavior in the United States; moreover, the center defines binge drinking as a pattern of alcohol consumption that raises a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams or above, which is the legal qualifier for alcohol intoxication.
Generally, a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 grams will happen when a male consumes five alcohol units or a female consumes four alcohol units during a period of two hours or less. Moreover, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has amended the definition of binge drinking by including the qualifier that a person needs only to consume five or more alcoholic beverages in a single sitting once in a 30-day period for the behavior to be considered binge drinking.
Studies have found that binge drinking is the most common among individuals between the ages of 18 and 34; additionally, this type of alcohol-abuse behavior is more common among individuals who make an annual salary of $75,000 or more than those with salaries below that amount. Although many binge drinkers aren’t considered to be physically dependent on alcohol, at least 80,000 deaths occur each year that are attributed to alcohol abuse, making it the third-leading cause of preventable death.
Who are the Binge Drinkers?
When one hears the term “binge drinking,” it likely evokes the concept of someone who is abusing alcohol for the express purpose of becoming intoxicated, perhaps for social reasons. This is often the type of behavior that one would assume would be especially common among youths. According to statistics, at least 90 percent of the alcohol consumed by underage drinkers — teens and young adults who are under the legal drinking age of 21 — is consumed by binge drinking. This alarming statistic is a parent’s worst nightmare as many teenage car accidents and accidental deaths may have been prevented by reducing underage access to alcohol and, therefore, teenage binge drinking.
Although binge drinking might be more readily associated with teens and young adults, it’s been found that the worst binge drinkers are actually individuals over the age of 60. Specifically, binge drinkers aged 65 and older tend to binge drink much more frequently than individuals between the ages of 18 and 34 at five or more times per month. And although youths and college-aged individuals are more closely associated with binge drinking, at least 70 percent of all binge drinking occurs among individuals over the age of 26; this means that binge drinkers under the age of 25 account for only 30 percent of all binge drinking episodes by comparison, illustrating the fact that alcohol abuse is more common and particularly more frequent among more mature, middle- to late-aged adults.
The Dangers of Binge Drinking
While it’s true that being a binge drinker doesn’t equate to being an alcoholic, there is certainly a degree of overlap; moreover, binge drinking is a behavior that can very easily be the precursor to more severe consumption behavior and even alcoholism. Additionally, binge drinking is a form of self-destructive behavior that is bad enough on its own, but it can also lead to a number of other unpleasant side effects. For instance, individuals are significantly more prone to injury while intoxicated, make poor decisions such as having unprotected sexual encounters, and are at risk of alcohol poisoning or being drugged by strangers. It’s also common for these individuals to experience a variety of physical and health effects, including neurological damage from habitual alcohol consumption, liver disease, cardiovascular diseases and stroke, sexual dysfunction, and even diabetes that’s much more difficult to control due to alcohol.
Find Your Peace in Recovery with Drug Treatment Center Finder
It’s important for everyone to be aware of what constitutes binge drinking behavior, who is most at risk of abusing alcohol, and the various effects that can result from binge drinking. Although it doesn’t mean an individual is an alcoholic, binge drinking is almost a prerequisite for an addiction to alcohol. However, we’re here to help those who are in the throes of active alcoholism or drug addiction. If you or someone you love would benefit from learning more about alcoholism, addiction, or treatment, call Drug Treatment Center Finder today at 1-855-619-8070. We’re available anytime, day or night, for free consultations and assessments. Save your life or the life of your loved one with just a single phone call.