Binge Drinking: What Are the Consequences?

Even if it's done occasionally, if we drink excessively at a party or gathering, our health could be affected. Learn about the effects of binge drinking.
Binge Drinking: What Are the Consequences?

Last update: 20 September, 2022

Excessive consumption of liquor can have health consequences. But this is intensified when people indulge in binge drinking.

In general, it’s considered that this practice can affect people in the short, medium, and long term, from both a physical and mental point of view. In addition, it affects the nervous system, and there’s both an inhibitory effect and a lack of coordination, which increases risky behaviors and the probability of suffering injuries and accidents.

Binge drinking: what is it?

It’s usually thought that problems related to alcoholism are more typical of people who drink on a regular basis. However, the disorder lies not only in the frequency, but also in how much is consumed on each occasion.

As we know, binge drinking is the practice of consuming large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time. The term binge is always used to refer to activities that are carried out in an extreme manner.

The objective is to get drunk quickly or to make the effects of the drinking more intense. A person can ingest 4 or even 5 drinks in 2 hours or less.

So, if a person stays around 6 hours at a social gathering they could end up having up to 20 drinks. As a result, according to research, a high level of intoxication is reached (with a blood alcohol level of no less than 0.8 g/l).

This practice is more frequent in males between 20 and 40 years of age. According to a study conducted at the José Ramón León Acosta Polyclinic in Santa Clara (Cuba), 70% of the patients admitted for problems related to alcohol consumption were in this age range.

Binge drinking.
Binge drinking is more frequent in social gatherings that favor the consumption of beverages.

You may also be interested in: 4 Tips to Stop Drinking Alcohol

Consequences of binge drinking

Binge drinking can be very dangerous in the short and long term, both for the person and for those around them. Let’s take a look at its consequences.

Short-term effects

When drinking in this way, in addition to feeling dizzy and vomiting, the person may also suffer blackouts. And the next day, of course, you will have all the symptoms of a hangover, but much stronger.

Aggression and criminal behavior

Alcohol makes us disinhibited. If the consumption is excessive, we can easily “lose our heads”, and indulge in risky behavior. For example, exhibitionism, unprotected sex, or sex with strangers. Likewise, the possibilities of assaulting someone, and committing crimes and abuse, increase.

Increased risk of accidents

Under the effects of alcohol, we lose coordination; our limbs don’t respond and they don’t obey the brain. Thus, there’s an increased risk of accidents.

You can also suffer or cause car accidents. According to research, the probability of dying in a traffic accident is about 13 times higher when there is a high concentration of alcohol in the blood.

Respiratory arrest

In certain cases, the person may feel nauseous. But because of their situation, they may not be able to expel their stomach contents. Vomiting may then obstruct the airway, leading to arrest and brain death.

Ethyl coma

When there are high levels of alcohol in the blood (above 3 grams per liter), there may be a decrease in respiratory and cardiac capacity, which triggers an ethyl coma. Death by asphyxiation may then occur.

Increases the chances of addiction

Frequent binge drinking is often the definitive step to developing alcohol addiction, as the difficulty to control alcohol consumption becomes evident. This brings other chronic consequences.

Liver disorders

In the long term, frequent heavy drinking increases the chances of liver disease, cirrhosis, and fatty liver.

Heart disease

Several studies have established that binge drinking increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease in middle-aged people (45 years and older). This relationship is less clear in younger people.

The conclusion reached by the researchers is that excessive alcohol consumption doesn’t only have an impact on the prevalence of various chronic diseases, but also increases the likelihood that these diseases will worsen if they’re already present.

Executive functions

The consequences are also evident in cognitive skills. In this regard, research with university students found that those who participated in binge drinking performed worse in intellectual tasks. Scores were even lower the younger they started drinking.

Risk of dementia

In a study of 131,415 adults, a 1.2 times higher risk of dementia was associated with heavy drinkers compared to moderate drinkers.

The effects of alcohol.
Middle-aged adults may see an accelerated cognitive decline if they consume alcohol in the form of binge drinking.

Social and affective problems

In addition to the consequences mentioned above, depressive disorders, anxiety, irascibility, and sleep disorders are common in people who drink alcohol abusively and frequently. There’s also behavior that can lead to conflicts, arguments, fights, and aggressive behavior with the people around them.

Other consequences

According to a study carried out in Spain, alcoholism is among the leading causes of disability. It also affects the family structure (dysfunctional family) and has economic and occupational repercussions.

Alcohol isn’t harmless

The consequences of binge drinking are diverse. All of these effects are negative and none positive. Therefore, it’s important to work towards educating young people about the problem.

False beliefs that binge drinking isn’t harmful should be exposed, because it’s a practice that can be very harmful indeed.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.