Written by: Kevin White
The NHS defines binge drinking as consuming large amounts of alcohol in a short space of time, drinking to get drunk or feel the effects of alcohol. Drinking more than double the daily unit guidelines is also classed as bingeing by the National office of statistics and the government advises that men should not drink more than 3 to 4 units of alcohol (equivalent to 1 and ½ pints of 4% beer) and women 2 to 3 units of alcohol (equivalent to 175ml glass of wine). ‘Regularly’ is defined as drinking most days of the week or more.
What’s the difference between binge drinking and normal drinking?
Drinking two large glasses of wine may not seem much, but consuming six units of alcohol in an hour could mean getting drunk due to your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Drinking a similar amount over several hours, along with food won’t have the same effect on your BAC levels.
What are the effects of binge drinking?
Studies have shown frequently consuming large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time is far worse for your health than consuming small amounts frequently. Being drunk can affect your health both physically and mentally.
Being drunk affects your balance and coordination and can result in accidents and falls. Alcohol is in fact, the biggest cause of accidents in the home. In some cases you could choke on your vomit and in extreme cases it can lead to heart failure, even death. Binge drinking can lead to mood swings, affect your memory and can lead to mental health problems in the long term.
A more common problem of binge drinking is antisocial, aggressive and violent behaviour.
Alcohol is a factor in:
- 30% of sexual offences
- 33% of burglaries
- 50% of street crimes
Most binge drinking occurs among 16 to 24-year-olds and is greater among men than women.
Consuming large amounts of alcohol when you’re young can be habit forming, with studies showing if people drink a lot in their teens and early 20s, they are twice as likely to binge drink 25 years later.
What constitutes binge drinking?
You don’t have to drink every day to be a binge drinker; drinking more than the daily unit guidelines too quickly to get drunk is binge drinking.
Once you start drinking, if you find it difficult to stop you may be a binge drinker, or worse have an alcohol dependence problem.
Where to get help?
If you’re worried about your drinking habits contact your GP and they will help you reduce your consumption or even arrange counselling.
You can call the National Alcohol Helpline on 0800 917 8282, it’s free and confidential.
You can also contact Alcoholics Anonymous group on 0845 769 755, you’ll find branches all around the country.