By Jennifer McDougall
Binge drinking is a common habit among young people trying to fit in with their peers. However, binge drinking puts you at risk for alcohol poisoning and other severe health conditions. It increases your likelihood of developing long-term problems like addiction, cancer, and other serious conditions. So what is considered “normal” when having a few drinks every once in a while? What is the safety threshold for drinking regularly? If you or someone you love currently struggles with an alcohol problem, these questions may seem like a lot to answer—or even ask! That’s why we’ve compiled this list of frequently asked questions about alcohol use and abuse in modern society.
Normal is Not Necessarily Safe
Normal is not necessarily safe. While it may seem harmless, binge drinking can harm your health.
Binge drinking is the most common form of excessive alcohol consumption in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC defines binge drinking as consuming four or more drinks within two hours for men and three or more for women. Someone who binges regularly may be putting themselves at risk of developing an addiction, which can lead to serious health problems like high blood pressure, liver disease, and cancer.
We have worked with many clients who have lost jobs due to their alcohol abuse. They had trouble keeping up with their responsibilities because alcohol took over their lives. This is one of the common issues many people experience when they are wrapped up in the cycle of addiction. The good news is, Passages Malibu offers a superior, non-12-step addiction treatment program that can help individuals discover and heal the root cause of their substance abuse issues and break free from addiction with the help of our professional team of therapists.
How Often Does Someone Binge Drink?
It’s common knowledge that binge drinking is dangerous, but it’s important to understand just how common it is.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 90 percent of American adults have had at least one drink in their lifetime. Among those who drink alcohol, 62 percent say they have binged on alcohol, defined as having five or more drinks in a single sitting for men and four or more drinks for women. The CDC says this means approximately 36 million Americans have engaged in binge drinking in just one month; however, they note that this number may be higher because people may not accurately remember their recent drinking habits when asked about them directly.
Why Do People Binge Drink?
Binge drinking is a pattern that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08% or above. This level can occur with as few as four drinks for women and five for men—the amount in two dozen 12-ounce beers, several glasses of wine, or multiple mixed drinks.
The reasons why people binge drink varies widely. Many do it because they enjoy being drunk, while others may be coping with stressful situations, trying to fit in at parties or clubs, or simply looking for entertainment. In some cases, people may have underlying mental health issues that make them more likely to binge than others who are not suffering from these conditions—or they may be drinking heavily to feel better about themselves after an upsetting event occurs (e.g., divorce, job loss, financial worries).
Who Binge Drinks?
Binge drinking is more common among young adults. It is also more common among men than women. Those with lower incomes are also more likely to binge drink, as are people who have been victims of sexual assault or physical abuse in their lifetime.
What is a Standard Drink?
The standard drink definition is the same across all countries: one 12-ounce beer, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces (44 ml) of 80-proof liquor. That’s about 14 grams of alcohol.
The reason for this standardization is to keep everyone on the same playing field when it comes to drinking—it’s easy to compare how much alcohol someone consumes if it’s all measured in terms of servings instead of different types and quantities. Moreover, setting these standards allows you to quickly determine if your drinks are within safe limits or if it’s time to cut back before you start feeling sick or drunk.
What Defines a “Heavy” Drinker?
To understand what it means to be a heavy drinker, you must first understand the definition of a binge drinker. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines binge drinking as “consuming four or more drinks on the same occasion on at least one day in the past 30 days.” This means that someone could have had one drink per day for 30 days and still be considered a binge drinker.
A problem drinker is someone who displays some of these symptoms:
- Excessive alcohol use is causing problems in their life
- They’ve tried unsuccessfully to cut down or stop using alcohol
- They feel guilty about having too much alcohol
- Dangerous behavior, such as driving under the influence of alcohol
- Missing school or work due to a hangover
- Drinking alone
- Sneaking drinks and lying about their consumption
- Denial of their excessive drinking habits
- Financial problems
- Lack of productivity at work or drop in grades at school
- A decline in hygiene and appearance
- Relationships begin to suffer due to their drinking
- Bloating in the face and stomach
- A loss of interest in activities that don’t involve drinking
American Cities With the Highest Rate of Alcohol Abuse
It’s common knowledge that drinking alcohol is integral to our culture. It makes it possible to relax temporarily, have fun, and forget the stresses of everyday life. But unfortunately, for those who enjoy binge drinking, it can cause serious short and long-term health problems.
These are the cities with the highest level of alcohol abuse (as of September 29, 2022 – VinePair.com)
- Appleton, WI – (26.8%)
- Oshkosh-Neenah, WI – (26%)
- Green Bay, WI – (25.6%)
- Madison, WI – (25.5%)
- Fargo, ND – (25.2%)
- La Crosse – Onalaska, WI – (25.1%)
- Fond du Lac, WI – (24.6%)
- Ames, IA – (24.4%)
- Eau Claire, WI – (24.3%)
- Mankato-North Mankato, MN – (24.2%)
- Wausau, WI – (24.1%)
- Sheboygan, WI – (24%)
- Missoula, MT – (23.8%)
- Grand Forks, ND – (23.7%)
- Racine, WI – (23.5%)
- Janesville-Beloit, WI – (23.4%)
- Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI – (23.3%)
- Lincoln, NE – (23.3%)
- Iowa City, IA – (23.2%)
- Corvallis, OR – (23.2%)
The alcohol abuse epidemic, which has been increasing steadily since the 2020 pandemic, has become even more problematic in the face of America’s economic crisis. The stress of lost jobs, retirement savings, and the recession is causing many people to turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism.
Alcohol abuse is on the rise in all states, with some areas seeing increases as high as 64%. People who drink excessively or consume large amounts of alcohol over a long period of time are at increased risk for developing health conditions such as cancer and heart disease. Chronic drinkers are also at risk for liver disease and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), which can be fatal if left untreated.
While it is normal for some people to have a glass of wine or beer every now and then, those who drink excessively put themselves at extreme risk for serious health problems later in life.
How Much Does Alcohol Advertising Cost?
In the United States alone, alcohol advertising is a multi-billion dollar industry. Alcohol advertising can be seen everywhere, from billboards to online ads to social media platforms. The goal of most alcohol commercials is to convince you that drinking their brand of beer or wine will make you more attractive or successful at work, so much so that your friends will be jealous of your ability to drink copious amounts without getting sick. This is an illusion to convince you to purchase their products.
The most rebellious act in a society where drinking alcohol is the norm is not to drink alcohol at all. Not drinking alcohol is one of the greatest things you can do for your mind, body, and spirit. Sobriety has many benefits, and in recent years, companies have released many new delicious non-alcoholic or alcohol-removed beverages so you can enjoy gatherings and downtime with a glass of something that won’t cause extreme harm to your health and well-being!
Effects of Alcohol on the Body and Mind
The effects of alcohol on the body and mind are wide-ranging. Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it slows down activity in the brain. This can cause slurred speech, unsteady balance, and impaired vision—the types of things we might associate with being drunk or hungover.
The heart muscle can also be affected by alcohol consumption, causing an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) or heart failure. Alcohol can also damage other organs, such as your liver and pancreas. In addition, when women drink large amounts of alcohol while pregnant, their babies may experience fetal alcohol syndrome, which includes mental challenges and small head sizes at birth.
Alcohol can affect more than just how you feel; it also has physical effects on your skin. For example, heavy drinking can cause facial flushing (redness) and paleness when you’re not drinking anymore because blood vessels dilate under stress from chemicals released during binge drinking episodes like adrenaline, which causes redness, and cortisol which causes paleness because it constricts blood vessels, leading to reduced circulation throughout the body, including those responsible for helping keep skin healthy looking.
This is one of the many reasons sobriety is one of the best beauty hacks. When you remove alcohol from your life, you give your body a chance to heal and start to glow from the inside out!