Family Health Magazine - MODERN LIVING
Why binge drinking is bad for your health
What is binge drinking? Whether you are trying to get drunk or just having a night out with friends, binge drinking means drinking a lot of alcohol quickly. For men, that means having more than four drinks on a single occasion, and for women, more than three.
What’s the problem with binge drinking?
When you binge drink, your body cannot process the alcohol as fast as you are drinking it. This makes you intoxicated (drunk). Many factors affect exactly how fast the alcohol is broken down by your body and how drunk you get. Whether you are male or female, how old you are, how much you usually drink and your weight all make a difference. However, on average, it takes your body about 90 minutes to break down and get rid of a standard drink.
Why would binge drinking affect my health?
Being drunk affects your body as well as your judgment, reflexes, and behaviour. Young people are at particular risk when they binge drink. They may not be used to drinking alcohol, and are more likely to put themselves in risky situations.
What is a standard drink?
Drinks come in all types and sizes. A ‘standard drink’ is:
|341 mL (12 oz.) bottle of beer
|142 mL (5 oz.) glass of wine
|43 mL (1.5 oz.) of hard liquor
Drinking large amounts of alcohol could have a number of effects on your health and well-being, including:
- having a hangover
- getting into a fight
- having unwanted sex or pushing unwanted sex on others
- having blackouts (when you forget what happened when you were drunk)
- getting injured or killed from a fall, car accident, fire, or drowning, and
- getting sick and possibly dying from alcohol poisoning.
Over the long term, repeated binge drinking also increases your risk of:
- developing an addiction to alcohol
- damage to your stomach, liver and brain
- developing cancer
- having sexual problems, and
- developing or worsening mental health problems like depression.
In addition to health risks, binge drinking can also impact your social life. When you are drunk, you may do things that you would not normally do when sober. You may feel bad or embarrassed about your actions, or have problems with friends or loved ones because of your behaviour.
Tips for drinking safely
If you are planning to drink, try these tips to help keep yourself safe.
- Pay attention to how much you are drinking. Count your drinks. Know your limit and stay below it.
- Pace yourself. Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks. Drink slowly rather than chugging beverages.
- If you feel that you are getting drunk, stop drinking.
- Never mix alcohol with other drugs.
- If you are in a public place, keep an eye on your drink. Be sure no one has put anything into it when you are not looking.
- Before you start drinking, plan a way to get home. If you drink any alcohol, do not drive. Do not ride with a driver who has been drinking.
What should I do if I am drinking too much?
If your drinking is causing problems in your life and you want to cut down, start by organizing and doing activities that do not involve drinking. Ask friends and family members for support.
If issues related to drinking continue, talk to your family doctor about resources to help you stop.
While effort is made to reflect accepted medical knowledge and practice, articles in Family Health Online should not be relied upon for the treatment or management of any specified medical problem or concern and Family Health accepts no liability for reliance on the articles. For proper diagnosis and care, you should always consult your family physician promptly. © Copyright 2015, Family Health Magazine, a special publication of the Edmonton Journal, a division of Postmedia Network Inc., 10006 - 101 Street, Edmonton, AB T5J 2S6 [ML_FHcd16]