This is coupled with some sobering statistics regarding alcohol use in America, and alcohol-related deaths – from alcohol poisoning to car accidents caused by inebriation. Among students – where the issue is historically quite rampant, for reasons spanning from culture to peer pressure and hormones – alcohol use has several ramifications from poor academic performance to injury and much more dire circumstances.
Alcohol can be a good thing, in a way. It can also be an incredibly bad thing. It’s more addictive than cocaine, carries a history of lowering inhibitions and enabling violent behavior, and is available at practically any corner store to anyone with a driver’s license and a birthday in the early 90s. But as we’ve learned, prohibiting it doesn’t really help solve the issue. Instead, we’ll use the other method – education.
What Is Binge Drinking?
Binge drinking is defined as four or five drinks every two hours, for men, and about three to four drinks for women. A drink refers to about a glass of wine, a bottle of beer, or a single shot. More exactly, the United States has a standard definition for the “drink”: 14 grams of pure alcohol. That’s to be found in a dozen ounces of beer, five ounces of wine and less than two ounces of the stronger stuff; distilled spirits like vodka, gin, whiskey, and rum.
Binge drinking is separate from heavy drinking – but you can be a heavy drinker if you binge drink often. For women, that’s eight drinks a week. For men, that’s fourteen.
Alcohol & Gender
The stark difference between men and women is generalized, of course. While men do metabolize alcohol faster, that has more to do with body size, including having more blood (and more water, so the alcohol gets less concentrated and men run a lesser risk of dehydration while drinking the same), plus the lower bodyfat and higher muscle size allows men to quickly breakdown alcohol compared to their female counterparts.
That isn’t to say that a smaller man with a lanky build will have a better tolerance than an experienced female drinker with an athletic background – but the rule still applies that if you’re downing more than three beers worth of alcohol in the span of “Leaving Las Vegas” screen time, you’re binge drinking. Repeat that thrice a week, and you’re probably a heavy drinker. But the clincher here is: at what point does any of this count as alcoholism? And that aside, is it even bad?
Is Binge Drinking Bad?
Binge drinking is bad for your health, but it’s not something that will kill you immediately. If you binge on alcohol every now and again and take the proper precautions, then the worst fate you’ll suffer is a hangover. However, binge drinking and then attempting anything remotely around heavy machinery afterwards can – and sadly often does – result in injury and death.
Binge drinking also runs the risk of turning from a little too much alcohol at once, to absolutely too much alcohol at once – competitive teens with immortality complexes and drinking games are particularly susceptible to late night trips to the hospital, or mental blackouts.
But the question is whether it leads to addiction – and the answer is that binge drinking and addiction aren’t explicitly tied together, especially when it comes to causing or determining a problem. Many people binge drink, but not all of them are addicts. It’s bad for your health, yes. Your liver won’t thank you for it, and if you’re a heavy drinker on top of it all, then you run the risk of not only harming yourself and others while drunk, but you can cause severe issues with your liver.
What Is Alcoholism?
As with any drug addiction, alcoholism is when you’ve reached a point in your consumption of alcohol wherein you can’t stop, regardless of the consequences. You begin to fail in school or encounter great difficulties at work. Relationships fall apart. Your life spirals out of control, and the emotional pain sends you further down into the proverbial bottle.
At some point, you might even realize that it’s the drink that’s been causing these issues – you have a role to play as well of course, but the alcohol hasn’t been a help. It’s been a negative coping mechanism for other emotional pains if anything.
But when you try to put it away, you realize that you can’t. Your body needs it, as the fever and pain indicate. And your mind needs it because being sober is painful. It’s these symptoms – the symptoms of withdrawal and deep regret – that make it clear that your alcohol consumption is a problem, part of a series of issues you need to deal with. Binge drinking may be a symptom of that, but it’s not a necessary indicator.
Too Much Alcohol Is Bad Regardless of Addiction
While the risk of addiction is an issue that comes up as a fear in the eyes of many avid drinkers, that does not mean that not being addicted counts as not having a “problem.” Even if you can choose to quit, and indeed do for long periods of time, abusing alcohol either as a means of drowning your sorrows or to “have fun” while consuming far too much of it counts as part of a problem.
Every time you drink to the point of forgetting what you’ve done that night, you run the risk of ruining your life. Every time you drink beyond the point of physical control, you run the risk of harming others. And if you’re a particularly violent drunk, then you’ve got too problems – deep-seated anger issues, and an indicator that you should probably stick to a sober life. And all of that doesn’t even touch on the long-term health issues with drinking too much.
There’s nothing wrong with indulging in alcohol, but be safe. Keep others safe. Don’t drive, and don’t drink more when you know you’ve had enough despite other people’s pressures.