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binge drinking facts

Binge Drinking Facts: Signs and Symptoms of Binge Drinking

It’s your 21st birthday and your eager friends aren’t the type to “read up” on binge drinking facts. Alcohol is one of the most popular controlled substances, exceeding sales across the globe annually. Beer is the most commonly consumed alcoholic beverage for binge drinkers. The legal drinking age in the United States is 21, however, underage drinking has always been a constant.

Binge drinking can be characterized as when a person has a BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) over 0.08.  Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, which causes your body to have slowed responses. Alcohol manipulates the GABA receptors in the brain, which are responsible for pleasure. 

Alcoholic beverages come in standard units:

  • One standard can of beer (12-oz.)
  • One glass of wine (5-oz.)
  • One shot of spirits (1.5-oz.)

Addiction is classified as a brain disease. The reward system in the brain is filtered through chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters are responsible for the communication between neurons. 

A tolerance can develop when you binge drink alcohol, resulting in the rewiring of the brain to meet the higher demands. The brain can become dependent on substances when there’s an absence of overstimulation of these neurotransmitters. 

What is Binge Drinking?

Binge drinking can be defined as a pattern of excessive consumption of alcohol, resulting in a BAC over 0.08. Binge drinking typically indicates an alcohol use disorder, if a dependence forms from the substance. This practice is common in individuals aged 18-34, with over 90% of U.S. adults who drink excessively report drinking in the past 30 days.

Binge drinking, within 2 hours, consists of:

  • More than 5 drinks for men,
  • More than 4 drinks for women.

Why Do People Binge Drink? 

Binge drinking is recognized as a recreational activity in social environments. In fact, binge drinking is more common in household incomes of $75,000 or more, including education levels. Despite binge drinking being a pastime, binge drinking is not alcoholism or dependence. 

People drink to self-medicate, usually from underlying mental health issues. This can create a never-ending cycle of diminishing returns, as they attempt to reach the same euphoria. 

Men are four times more likely to binge drink than women. Binge drinking could be a result of you testing your tolerance. Young adults are constantly exposed to peer pressure and isolation, which can influence them to rebel with binge drinking.

What are Some Statistics Related to Binge Drinking?

According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 66 million people in the United States, reported binge drinking during the past month. The rates of binge drinking in preteens and young adults have decreased. Binge drinking is on the rise among older adults, with more than 10% of older adults having a drink in the past month (2019).

The number of women who binge drink has increased as well. In fact, 2019 studies have demonstrated that 1 in 4 women have participated in binge drinking during the past month. This can increase the risk of long-term health issues related to alcohol, particularly with pregnancy.

Binge drinking can present long-term developmental issues in children. Adolescent brains are still developing, where alcohol can diminish growth in the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for social growth, decision-making, and emotional rationalization. Binge drinking can increase the risk of accidents and other behavioral issues if addiction is developed.

What are the Signs & Symptoms of Binge Drinking?

Binge drinking over long periods can introduce health complications, from liver disease to potential cancers. The symptoms of binge drinking will depend on what you drink, how long in between drinks, weight, gender, and even genetic history. Alcohol slows the absorption in the stomach, drying it out.

The side effects of binge drink could include:

  • Impaired coordination
  • Blackouts
  • Dehydration
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Memory loss
  • Impaired decision making
  • Shakiness
  • Blurred vision

Binge drinking may not always feel as though you’re growing into an addiction. If you feel guilt about your drinking, chances are you’re developing a dependence on alcohol. Your close friends could have made comments about your binge drinking.

Blackouts can be defined as a lapse in memory after excessive drinking. Persistent blackouts can affect your memory. Blackouts can potentially increase your risk of binge drinking-related accidents. One period of binge drinking can increase inflammation of the pancreas.

You could find yourself spending more time/money on binge drinking. After a look at your bank account, you begin to question how to quit binge drinking.

What Sort of Treatment Options Are Used to Quit Binge Drinking?


Detoxification is the first phase of the addiction recovery process. After an initial evaluation from the trained medical staff, you’ll undergo detoxification to remove toxic substances from your body. This allows a chance for the chemical balances in the brain to readjust without alcohol in its presence. Detox lasts between 7-10 days, longer if needed.

Depending on the severity of your addiction, the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms can cause your cravings to intensify. This is why relapse is a recurring element in addiction recovery. Medications are available to help ease the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. 

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment can be described as a residential treatment, where a patient will have 24/7 access to medical staff. This form of treatment focuses on providing you with a distraction-free environment to fully experience the program. Inpatient treatment can be delivered through a hospital, private facility, or residential home. The average length of time a patient spends at inpatient treatment is 30-90 days (90 days is considered the most effective).

Psychotherapy is a fundamental feature of inpatient treatment. From there, you’ll participate in group and individual therapy sessions to discover the root causes of your binge drinking. This could provide insight into the connection between the mind and how compulsive behaviors develop over time.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment programs are discrete options for individuals who seek to quit binge drinking. Certain recovering individuals won’t be able to make the time commitment to inpatient addiction treatment. Outpatient treatment programs provide a less intensive but effective form of addiction treatment. 

A patient can expect to spend 4-6 hours, 5 days a week at a facility. The average length of time a patient spends in outpatient treatment is 30 days. Individual and group therapy are typically provided, among other therapies and approaches. Outpatient treatment programs offer intensive programs that would be suited for those with moderate to severe cases.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

An overwhelming percentage of recovering individuals have a combination of mental health and substance use disorders. This is known as co-occurring disorders. Dual diagnosis treatment is a promising approach toward recovery. Until recently, mental health and substance use disorders were treated separately. 

However, the side effects of mental health disorders can influence substance use and vice versa. Treating both disorders is invaluable to ensure a thorough treatment process. Chronic relapse is potentially lethal to individuals who have not received adequate treatment. Dual diagnosis treatment gives you the skills on how to quit binge drinking.

Sober Living

Sober living homes are similar to outpatient treatment programs. The recovering individuals are typically required to have a job in order to live on the premises. Sober living homes can function as a transitional living option for those who finished inpatient rehabilitation. Sober living homes offer treatment, through counseling and support groups. 

The 12-Step Program is a resource embedded in the addiction recovery community. Developing a sense of community can provide you with insights into the addiction recovery process. Others ahead in their journey could guide you through difficult periods; such as cravings and adjusting to a new lifestyle.

Discover a New Beginning at Chapel Hill

Alcoholism can pose draining effects on your daily functioning. Chapel Hill provides options on how to quit binge drinking through evidence-based therapy. Quality addiction treatment for alcohol can make a significant difference. 

Addiction recovery requires the most out of you to rewrite the actions of your compulsive behaviors. Our addiction treatment specialists can help you find a program that will work best for you.  If you or a loved one are battling an alcohol use disorder, contact us today.