Why Do People Binge Drink?

What is a binge drinker, or what does it mean to binge drink? According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking is defined as a pattern of drinking alcohol that raises your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 percent or higher. Binge drinking is more common than you think, and if you are wondering why people binge drink in the first place, keep in mind that alcohol is a socially acceptable drug that has been used as a coping mechanism in history and today. 

Binge Drinking vs. Alcoholism

Binge drinking is not the same as alcoholism, and occasionally finding yourself binge drinking does not define a person as an alcoholic. A binge drinker will consume a large quantity of alcohol in a short period but an alcoholic regularly drinks. 

According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 66 million reported binge drinking in one month, or about 24 percent of people in the United States ages 12 and older.1 Binge drinking counts increase for older adults, mainly among women. Reasons for binge drinking may include boredom, testing tolerance, or desiring a distraction from specific responsibilities or situations present in life. 

The key difference between a binge drinker and an alcoholic depends on physical dependence. Mostly, binge drinkers do not crave or depend on the effects of alcohol, unlike people with alcohol addictions. In addition, the frequency of drinking is different for addicts since there are no gaps in between drinking or episodes of binge drinking. An alcoholic is regularly consuming alcohol, some are considered high-functioning addicts, but this case typically does not last long. 

Living With a Binge Drinker 

If you live with someone who is typically looking forward to weekend binge drinking or has dramatic episodes of excessive drinking in a short period, it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms. Why do people binge drink? A person will want to reward themselves for completing the weekly duties and tend to cheer for their accomplishments. Often, people binge drink because they are bored, depressed, or in need of a distraction. Here are signs of binge drinking that may become a problem and can lead to dependency: 

  • Extreme efforts to get alcohol 
  • Inability to complete tasks at home 
  • Sudden intense cravings and urgency to drink alcohol 
  • Seeming defensive or experiencing mood swings at home 
  • Avoiding family members, work problems, or social interactions

Is binge drinking once a week bad? If a person at home continues to undergo episodes of binging every week, then tolerance to alcohol can easily form, causing addiction, health risks, alcohol poisoning, or overdose. An alcohol disorder can form if a person does not communicate or seek the proper care they need to stop binge drinking. 

Side Effects of Binge Drinking 

The effects of alcohol abuse can be extremely harmful to the body, and a person will often binge drink for reasons like celebrating temporary upsetness or boredom. However, continuing frequent episodes can lead to addiction and other adverse side effects on the body and mind. More research is being conducted to determine the severity of these effects, but some long-term effects of binge drinking include: 

  • Anxiety 
  • Psychosis 
  • Heart failure
  • Reduced fertility
  • Low sodium levels
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Liver inflammation and cirrhosis
  • Cancer of the liver, throat, mouth, voice box, esophagus, colon, and rectum

Other ways to cope with certain situations, besides binge drinking, can be trying new activities. Also, hosting gatherings, exercising, meditation, and writing are positive and healthy ways to avoid alcohol use. If you are wondering why people binge drink or are living with a loved one who is struggling with excessive alcohol use, reach out to an inpatient alcohol rehab for helpful information and resources.

Alcohol Treatment at Better Addiction Care  

At Better Addiction Care, we want to see you recover and return to living a productive life under your control. We offer unique treatment therapies, so our patients receive the proper care they need to achieve their recovery goals. Our experienced medical staff will ensure safety during the withdrawal process and help patients develop skills to prevent future relapses. 

Please, reach out to a specialist at Better Addiction Care Treatment Center by calling 800-429-7690 and start on the path to recovery today! 

Related Readings: 

Signs of Alcohol Poisoning

How Long Does Alcohol Take to Leave Your Body Completely? 

Source: NIH – Understanding Binge Drinking | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

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