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June 15, 2016

Real Talk: The Effects of Binge Drinking on the Mind and Body

Drawing of beer

 Did you know that the state of Georgia is ranked #12 in the United States for excessive binge drinking? Something has got to give!

 

What is Binge Drinking?

The National Health Service defines binge drinking as: “drinking lots of alcohol in a short space of time or drinking to get drunk”.  This is equivalent to over 8 units in a single session for men and over 6 units in women, or 5 drinks for men and 4 drinks for women within a two-hour span. 

One major reason that consuming excessive amounts of alcohol in a short period of time is dangerous because your body can only physically process one unit of alcohol per hour.   When a person binge drinks, it causes their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to rise very quickly.  This can wreak havoc on a person internally, causing harmful effects on both the mind and body.

What Can Happen When a Person Binge Drinks?

 Binge Drinking is the most common pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States, and the effects of this popular ingestion method can be dire.

Short-Term (Temporary) Effects:

  • Slurred speech, drowsiness and headaches
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, and upset stomach
  • Impaired judgment and memory lapse blackouts

Sounds tolerable, doesn’t it? However, binge drinking tends to become a habit and over time those temporary side effects can quickly turn into long-term problems and conditions including: 

  • Unintentional injuries or car accidents
  • Sexually transmitted diseases and unintentional pregnancies
  • High blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and stroke
  • Severe liver damage, resulting in cirrhosis or alcoholic hepatitis
  • Pancreatitis, preventing proper digestion
  • Several different types of cancers

But wait, the negative consequences don’t stop there! In addition to the risks binge drinking poses to physical health, mental health can be affected too. Excessive drinking can interfere with:

  • The brain’s normal communication pathways, including those which control anger and aggression
  • The way the brain looks and functions
  • One’s behavior, mood, coordination, memory and ability to think clearly
  • The susceptibility of developing substance abuse disorders

With all of the not-so-great possibilities that can come from binge drinking, who would want to risk it? HEARTS for Families encourages you to be responsible and to "Give Yourself a Chance™" by making the right choices when it comes to alcohol.

 

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