Your kid just turned 10! You and your partner throw them a nice party with all their friends, and you are happy to hear from your partner that they are enjoying themself. Your partner tells you that your kid is happy, all of their friends are there, and so is all the family. All except you.
You have been stressed out about your job, about parenting, and about life in general. So, you decide to turn to the bottle, one drink turns into another, and another drink turns into nine. Before you know it, you make it to your kid’s birthday party late, smelling like beer.
It is at this point that you know it is time to make a change in your life. You think you have a problem, but you aren’t sure what it might be.
In this post, we will discuss binge drinking, the possibility of you having alcohol use disorder (AUD, the medical term for alcoholism), and options for treatment.
What Is Binge Drinking?
Binge drinking means drinking way over the average amount of alcohol for a person in a period of two hours. For men, this would be drinking five or more drinks, and for women, four or more drinks.
This is the most common form of excessive drinking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One in six adults reported binge drinking about four times per month. Binge drinking can be a cause of accidental fatalities.
Binge drinking is also defined as drinking in such a way that it raises one’s blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit. Also called blood alcohol level, BAC is the percentage of alcohol in a person’s bloodstream.
In a study conducted by Stanford University, they explained: If a person has a BAC of 0.10%, that means that person’s blood contains one part of alcohol for every 1,000 parts of blood. In most states, someone would be considered legally intoxicated (drunk) if their BAC reaches 0.08%.
There are several factors that play a part in raising BAC, such as:
- Drinking on an empty stomach
- Percentage of alcohol within the drink
- Body weight
There are more, but these are the most important factors. While drinking one beer on a full stomach may not raise the BAC past the legal limit, drinking hard liquor on an empty stomach is more likely to raise BAC to a dangerous level.
Binge Drinking in Norfolk County
Binge drinking is the most common form of excessive drinking. County Health Rankings reports that in Norfolk County, which includes Cohasset and surrounding areas, 22% of adults regularly engage in excessive drinking. While this is slightly below the Massachusetts state average of 24% of adults, it still encompasses a very large amount of the Norfolk County population.
While binge drinking is more common in the demographic of men ages 18 to 34, most binge drinks are consumed by those 35 and up. It is twice as likely to occur with men as opposed to women, and it is more common among people with a higher education level.
The Dangers of Binge Drinking
Binge drinking is as dangerous as it is common. Binge drinking can lead to many accidental injuries. For example, someone who has just finished an episode of binge drinking may suffer an accidental fall that could break a bone. Even more dangerous is the binge drinker getting behind the wheel of a vehicle while drunk. Binge drinking can also increase the risk of violence.
Binge drinking can lead to risky sexual behaviors as well, such as unprotected sex and unintended pregnancies. Binge drinking can affect the infant as well. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) are conditions that show up if a woman was drinking alcohol during her pregnancy. A child with FASD might have these symptoms:
- Poor memory
- Low body weight
- Sleeping problems as an infant
- Poor coordination
- Speech and language delays
Binge drinking can also affect many of the organs in the body and lead to several forms of cancer. These cancers include:
- Liver cancer
- Breast cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Colon cancer
- Cancer of the mouth and throat
Binge drinking leads to different types of long-term diseases as well, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and strokes. It can lead to liver problems, including a condition called cirrhosis
Excessive drinking has been linked to causing cirrhosis of the liver. Cirrhosis is a condition in which the liver continues to scar. The liver is injured by binge drinking, but it also can repair itself. Scar tissue will form after each repair. Cirrhosis makes it so that more scar tissue forms, to the point where the liver is unable to repair itself or do its job (digesting food and getting rid of toxins). Late-stage cirrhosis of the liver can be life-threatening.
Signs and symptoms of cirrhosis won’t show up until the liver is substantially damaged, but they include:
- Jaundice (yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes)
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Itchy skin
What Factors Influence Binge Drinking?
There are several factors that can influence binge drinking. Gender is a factor that plays a role in binge drinking. According to a study done by the National Institutes of Health in 2020, men would binge drink more than women (68% vs. 64%).
Another factor is the social and cultural climate. Alcohol is used as a social lubricant in America. It is seen as a way to celebrate, to de-stress, and has been shown in a positive context in media messages (with the exceptions being drunk driving and treatment). This plays a factor because people who have grown up with those media messages will believe that it is something everyone does without much consequence. Unfortunately, there can be immediate consequences of binge drinking, such as alcohol poisoning.
If someone is suffering from alcohol poisoning, immediately dial 911.
Also called alcohol overdose, alcohol poisoning happens when someone has consumed too much alcohol to the point where basic life-support functions (breathing, for example) could stop. Alcohol poisoning is dependent on several factors, but binge drinking increases the likelihood of the condition. Signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:
- Pale skin
- Hypothermia (low body temperature)
- Unconsciousness and not waking up
Other complications include choking and brain damage.
Do I Have Alcohol Use Disorder?
While most people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) tend to binge drink, not everyone who binge drinks has AUD. There is a way to assess if you have AUD. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has created an assessment that healthcare providers use.
The number of questions you answer “Yes” to will determine the severity of your AUD. In the past year, have you:
- Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer, than you intended?
- More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?
- Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over other aftereffects?
- Wanted a drink so badly you couldn’t think of anything else?
- Found that drinking — or being sick from drinking — often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
- Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
- Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink?
- More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unprotected sex)?
- Continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout?
- Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?
- Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had alcohol withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, a racing heart, or a seizure? Or sensed things that were not there?
If you answered “yes” to three of these questions, then you have mild AUD. It is considered moderate AUD if you answered “yes” to four or five of the criteria, and seven or eight would be considered severe AUD. Regardless of the severity of your AUD, East Coast Recovery offers treatment for you.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Recovery is for everyone. East Coast Recovery offers several rehab for alcoholism options. Every patient is different, and we strongly believe our treatment plans will have something for everyone.
Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
Still an intensive treatment plan, a partial hospitalization program (PHP) is a treatment option where patients will attend the facility up to seven days a week but will continue to live at home. This plan works great for patients who may need more frequent care and were unsuccessful with lower levels of treatment.
PHPs are a way for patients to step away from the natural stressors of life in order to focus on their own recovery. Patients will have support from medical staff frequently while they are attending the facility, and our PHP is available for patients 18 and up.
Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) are treatment plans that are used when patients still have to maintain other duties like work. In an IOP, the patient would be attending sessions at the facility and going home. This type of treatment program is also used as a transitional phase from living at a facility to going back home but still having treatment.
Because this is an intensive program, it requires a bigger time commitment than many outpatient programs. Patients can expect therapy at least ten hours a week during this program. There will be one-on-one therapy as well as group therapy.
Individual counseling can help patients process the reasons they turn to the bottle while helping them find different coping skills. Group therapy is great for practicing communication skills and allows patients to see they are not alone in this journey. While the length of treatment is dependent on the needs of the client, the average length is typically 90 days.
Addiction can harm a lot of things in your personal life, as well as the people around you. Those people around you are usually your family. It can be difficult to even begin to explain your actions to your spouse, let alone your child. Family therapy works as a mediator so those things can be discussed.
Your family might have some feelings of anger because of the addiction, and you might have the same feelings. Family therapy is designed for each party to express those feelings in order to start rebuilding that familial bridge. In family therapy, you will learn how your family feels, and they will learn what they can do to help you. It can feel like your addiction burned that bridge, but East Coast Recovery will help you to rebuild it.
Walk the Path With Us
East Coast Recovery has a community of like-minded individuals who want to see you succeed with your goals. We meet the patient where they are, and we get down to the root cause of the addiction in order to find the long-term solution. We are located in Cohasset, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. Call (617) 390-8349 to start walking the path of recovery today.
What is defined as binge drinking?
Binge drinking is defined as drinking excessively over the average amount for a person within two hours or less. For men, that means five or more alcoholic drinks, and for women, it is four or more.
What are binge drinking’s effects?
Binge drinking can have several alcohol side effects. It raises a person’s blood alcohol content to 0.08%, which is legal intoxication, or higher. It can lead to accidental injuries, such as falls, car crashes, and violence. One of the most immediate effects of binge drinking could be alcohol overdose, or alcohol poisoning, where so much alcohol enters the bloodstream that basic life-support functions (breathing, heart rate) could stop.