Binge Drinking – Why It Carries A Health Warning

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Binge drinking really is something to avoid. While this may seem a very obvious statement it needs to be said because millions of people ignore it.

Here are some facts about this type of drinking and just some of the many issues it can cause:

Definition:

Consuming an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period of time.

What can this type of drinking lead to?

We need to divide this into two sections. This is from a social and health perspective.

Social affects:

While binge drink sessions are associated with young adults it is certainly not their exclusive domain. Many older adults binge drink and those that do will also feel the social consequences.

Increased aggression:

When drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time this can rapidly increase a person’s aggressive nature. Such aggression can lead to confrontational situations that result in either assaulting someone or being assaulted.

Apart from personal injury or injury to others, this type of aggression will often lead to the involvement of law enforcement officers. If you are the aggressor then there is a very good chance that criminal charges will be brought against you.

It goes without saying that a criminal record is not something one should search for.

One type of aggression that is very common with those who go on regular binge drinking sessions is domestic violence caused between themselves and their partners or family members.

The social repercussions of such aggression will almost certainly lead to partnership and family difficulties that may be so serious as to never be repaired.

Decreased inhibitions:

Drinking alcohol loosens a person’s inhibitions. While a moderate intake of alcohol can give pleasurable, relaxed feelings, too much alcohol can lead to a devil may care attitude.

An example of this is unplanned and unprotected sex. Such sexual activity can lead to unexpected pregnancies and unwanted sexually transmitted diseases.

Low self-esteem:

Heavy drinking sessions may well be classed as occasional binges. The problem is that there is a good chance that ‘occasional’ turns into ‘regular’. It should clearly be understood that alcohol is very addictive.

Your mind and body quickly become tolerant of alcohol, and this tolerance increases rapidly. What this means is you need more of the same to reach the same ‘high’ as previously.

Such increases in alcohol consumption can lead to alcohol dependence. Once dependent upon alcohol, the next stop on your journey is alcoholism.

Binge drinking or a dependence on alcohol can leave a person with a low self-esteem. This effect is increased as he or she slips deeper into addiction.

Work consequences:

Such heavy or regular drinking sessions certainly affect your work performance. Many in such a situation will phone work stating sickness as their reason for not showing up. They often find that work standards are slipping, and in extreme cases even drink before or during work.

There is only one sure consequence of such actions. That is being found out, and the strong possibility of dismissal.

If you are forced to search for another job because of your drinking problem, try explaining to a prospective employer why you ‘left’ your last job. Not an easy task, and certainly not one that many prospective employers would find endearing or advantageous to their business.

Health effects:

The second section of effects we will consider have to do with how binge drinking affects your health.

Apart from the possibility of injury due to increased aggression as discussed above, heavy or regular drinking sessions are likely to have a negative effect from a physical and psychological point of view.

The short term health effects lead to a whole range of probabilities. These include headaches, sweating and/or chills, feeling nauseous or being physically sick, shaking hands and body, anxiety, increased nervousness, depression and insomnia.

The answer to reduce such effects for many is to have ‘a hair of the dog that bit you’. This means that when you are feeling lousy due to a heavy drinking session, you try to counter and reduce such feelings by having another drink.

I think we can all guess where such an attitude will lead. It will not stop at just one drink, and before you know it you will be knocking drinks back and getting drunk again, and so the binge drinking circus can go on and on until you find that you are dependent upon alcohol to function.

Longer term health effects:

While cirrhosis of the liver is commonly acknowledged as one of the longer term health problems caused by heavy drinking, there are many other serious health problems you are leaving yourself open to.

These include, but are certainly not limited to: Anemia, cancer, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases such as blood clots, heart attacks or strokes, depression and dementia. Certainly not a pretty picture!

Where to seek help:

If you find your bingeing sessions are getting out of hand, or you have passed that stage and are now dependent upon alcohol you need to seek help in the form of professional alcohol addiction services.

This type of help can be in the form of outpatient treatment or at an inpatient rehabilitation centre.

The advantages of inpatient treatment are many and varied. These include taking you out of an often sterile environment that could well have contributed to your alcohol dependence in the first place and is now rapidly fueling it.

There are also completely focused counselling sessions during such a stay that are designed to help you fully understand what damage your binge drinking is causing to you and those around you.

Once you admit and accept the fact that you have a serious drink problem, and face up to the detrimental effects it is having on yourself and those close to you, you have taken a huge step on the long road to overcoming your alcohol issues.

You will be shown how to avoid potential relapse situations, and you will begin your long term recovery through physical, psychological and spiritual sessions.

Such intensive, personal and communal sessions are designed to give you the best possible opportunity to stop drinking, and just as importantly how to stay away from alcohol for the foreseeable future.

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Anne -

Anne Lazarakis joined the DARA Rehab team from Sydney, Australia. She writes about addiction and mental health on a global, local and community level. She also relays personal accounts of substance abuse and recovery through the stories of our clients, their families and our own team members.

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