Binge drinking is one of the most common forms of alcohol abuse in the United States. Like alcoholism, it is preventable. However, it is still serious and the binge drinking side effects can be severe.
Gaining a better understanding of binge drinking also requires you to understand what exactly a standard drink is. A binge drinker is classified as someone who drinks in excess for a short amount of time then doesn’t drink again for a longer duration. Binge drinking is similar to social drinking, except people will drink much more and the consequences are much more intense. Binge drinking episodes can last anywhere from days to weeks, depending on the individual.
Binge drinking side effects do not only affect the individual but also impacts everyone around them, including unborn fetuses whose mother is binge drinking while pregnant. Those who binge drink, especially for long periods of time, run a higher risk of developing side effects despite being classified as “harmless.”
If you or someone you know is drinking in excess, here are a few binge drinking side effects to be aware of.
1. Weight Gain
Light-to-moderate drinking is not associated with weight gain; however, excessive alcohol consumption over a long period of time can result in putting on some significant weight. Alcohol is high in calories that are not beneficial to the body—they are essentially empty calories. Although you may not be drinking every day, the amount of alcohol you drink over a short period of time adds up throughout the duration of your drinking episode(s).
When alcohol is in your system, it prevents or slows down the burning of pre-existing fat, which means if you are eating a diet high in fat in conjunction with drinking in excess you are more likely to pack on the pounds.
Anemia is a condition that develops when your body does not have enough healthy red blood cells.
As surprising as this seems, drinking alcohol in excess can lead to anemia. Alcohol affects blood cells in the body and their functions. Long-term use of alcohol causes defective red blood cells in the body, leading to a large number of health complications.
3. Unintentional Injuries
Although unintentional injuries commonly occur among those who drink alcoholically, they are still on the list of binge drinking side effects.
Binge drinkers consume a large amount of alcohol during their drinking episodes. During abstinence, the level of tolerance decreases, resulting in a high likeliness that you will get more drunk than if you were to drink consistently.
The more you drink, the more your vision becomes impaired, your thought process is skewed, and the ability to function properly diminishes. Around the world, there are roughly 5.2 million deaths from alcohol-related injuries per year. These consist of:
● Road traffic injuries caused by drunk driving
● Alcohol poisoning (overdose)
● Acts of violence against self or others
Since alcohol affects the brain quickly and negatively, anyone who drinks in excess – alcoholically or occasionally – is at high risk for suffering these consequences.
4. Alcohol Poisoning
Alcohol poisoning caused by binge drinking is one of the most dangerous binge drinking side effects. The more alcohol you consume, the more likely you are to experience symptoms of alcohol poisoning. The basic functions of the body begin to decline when there is an excess of alcohol in the body. Since alcohol goes into the bloodstream, areas of the brain that control functions such as breathing, heart rate, and temperature control begin to shut down.
Binge drinking side effects of alcohol poisoning can be severe due to the amount of alcohol consumed. If you are experiencing alcohol poisoning, it basically means you are overdosing on alcohol. Alcohol overdose is more common in those with lowered tolerance to alcohol, such as binge drinkers.
5. Liver Disease
One of the most severe consequences of long-term alcohol abuse is complications such as cirrhosis of the liver. Cirrhosis develops when scar tissue replaces the healthy tissue in the liver. Healthy cells become damaged over time, typically the result of long-term binge drinking.
The severity of cirrhosis depends on the individual and if they have existing binge drinking side effects. The cause of liver disease ties into the weight gain aspect of binge drinking side effects. The body will get to a point where it doesn’t process the alcohol being consumed. What this means is the calories associated with alcohol are not used; they are stored in the liver, which leads to a fatty liver ultimately resulting in cirrhosis.
6. Academic Decline
Alcohol use is common in college; however, it is one of the leading causes of dropouts. It is reported that around 28% of college students drop out due to alcohol. Also, more than one-third of students reported a decline in their school work due to drinking alcohol.
Students are likely candidates to binge drink due to their enrollment in school and their inability to drink daily, unless they make the choice to which can lead to alcoholism. However, students typically take a four- or five-day break from drinking and spend at least one-two days drinking in excess—the definition of a binge drinker.
Hangovers, blackouts, and memory lapses ultimately hinder your ability to perform in class, which can lead to a decline in school work and can even end in expulsion from school depending on the severity of your drinking and behaviors.
Are You Struggling with Binge Drinking?
Binge drinking side effects can lead to devastation. It’s never too late to start over, so why wait? Pathway to Hope can help you or a loved one regain control of your life. If you or someone you know is struggling with binge drinking or alcoholism call (844) 557-8575 today. Our trained professional staff is available 24/7 to assist you with finding the right program to suit your individual needs. Don’t fall victim to the growing health issue; get help now!