Many people associate problematic drinking with not being able to get through the day without a drink, but drinking a large amount of alcohol in a short space of time can be equally as harmful.

Our bodies can only process a small amount of alcohol every hour, around one unit for most people. Consuming more, and quickly, can put your body under stress, causing short and long-term health issues, including alcohol poisoning.

Not only this but, when you are drunk, you are more vulnerable to accidents and other high-risk situations.

What is binge drinking?

The NHS defines binge drinking as “drinking heavily over a short space of time” or, in other words, drinking to get drunk.

And the amount of alcohol you need to consume to be classed as binge drinking is less than you might think. For men, drinking over 8 units of alcohol in one session is classed as binge drinking, that’s 4 pints of beer, while for women, it’s around 6 units or 3 pints.

What are the signs of binge drinking?

 Signs that binge drinking may be becoming a problem include:

  • You drink quickly
  • You drink with the aim of getting drunk
  • You find it hard to stop drinking once you’ve started

What are the risks of binge drinking?

Binge drinking is associated with a number of health problems, including:

  • Accidents and injuries
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Memory and learning problems
  • Mental health problems
  • Unintended pregnancy
  • STIs
  • Miscarriage
  • Cancer
  • Diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and liver disease

In extreme cases, binge drinking can stop your breathing or stop your heart.

What is alcohol poisoning?

Binge drinking puts you at high risk of alcohol poisoning, which is the leading cause of poisoning in England, particularly amongst young people.

When you drink alcohol, your liver has to work hard to filter it out of your blood. If you drink a lot of alcohol over a short space of time, your body doesn’t have time to process it all, leading to a high amount of alcohol in your bloodstream.

Symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Confusion
  • Loss of coordination
  • Vomiting
  • Irregular breathing or slow breathing
  • Passing out
  • Being conscious but unresponsive
  • Loss of consciousness

In severe cases, alcohol poisoning can result in brain damage or even death.

How to avoid binge drinking

To lower your risk while drinking, you should:

  • Limit how much you drink at one time
  • Avoid drinking in rounds
  • Set a drinking or spending limit before you go out
  • Drink slowly
  • Make sure you have food while drinking
  • Have a non-alcoholic drink between every alcoholic drink
  • Avoid pre-drinking before you go out

It’s also recommended to stick with your friends and make sure you know how you’re getting home, to avoid alcohol-induced risks.

How to get help for binge drinking

If you’re worried that you are binge drinking regularly, you should seek help. Speak to your GP or a specialist treatment provider about your concerns.

At ANA, we work closely with our clients to help rebuild their lives, gain confidence and self-worth and believe that they can live a healthy, responsible, and productive life, free of addictive substances.

Contact ANA today, our friendly team is on hand and ready to help.