What is Binge Drinking?
Binge drinking refers to the consumption of an excessive amount of alcohol in one sitting.
We often imagine this to be a teenage/young adult activity (where they are knocking down spirit after spirit), but this can also be prevalent with older adults – finishing entire bottles of wine with their partners and friends in homely dinner party situations.
A question often arises regarding the definition of binge drinking – what constitutes the number of drinks in a binge-drinking session?
There is currently no worldwide consensus on this amount, given that everyone has different levels of alcohol tolerance. In Australia, the NHMRC revised guidelines suggest that men and women should not drink more than 4 standard drinks on any one day.
Why Do We Binge Drink?
Often, we’ll find a binge-drinking situation is one in which the aim is to ‘celebrate’ or ‘cut loose’ – where it’s expected that people will be drinking to get drunk, and drunken behaviour is either tolerated or celebrated – maybe it’s part of a bonding experience or a way to relax. Often, it’s something that we don’t really think of as being unusual or problematic if it’s all around us and everyone is doing the same thing.
Other reasons for binge drinking may be psychological – where it’s being used as a coping mechanism or to self medicate negative emotions. The guilt of having a drink may even drive people to drink again, creating a situation whereby they begin binge drinking.
Is Binge Drinking Bad for You?
Sometimes, it is only when we start to experience the harms of binge drinking – like health issues, mood issues the following day, or consequences from decisions made when drinking – that we might consider making changes.
All the risks that arise when we are drinking a lot may be magnified – situations such as falling over, risky behaviour, drink driving or getting involved in altercations. Taken to the extreme, binge drinking may cause acute alcohol poisoning, or for a person who has passed out, may even result in choking on their own vomit.