The dangers of weekend binge drinking
“No longer can we consider chronic alcohol consumption as the only factor in developing alcoholic liver disease.” So says Shivendra Shukla, Ph.D., and professor at the University of Missouri School of Medicine. Shukla is the lead author of a study which found a connection between weekend binge drinking and serious alcohol-related problems.
Chronic versus binging
Shukla notes a person who is a chronic drinker will suffer more from binge drinking than a binge drinker. But a male or female who drinks to get drunk – the purpose of binge drinking –and makes the liver more prone to damage over time. According to Shukla, binge drinking should not only be associated with liver damage. He says, “It creates an inflammatory response in the liver that is like a cluster bomb, sending out various damaging signals to systems in the body. If those organs are working at a lower level of function, then a whole host of physiological processes is affected.”
A host of injuries … and death
The University of Rochester Medical Center’s Health Encyclopedia cites the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – CDC – as its source for the various dangers attributed to binge drinking. According to the Encyclopedia, “Binge drinkers have increased risk of killing someone, killing oneself, child abuse, domestic violence, high blood pressure, heart attack, inflammation of the stomach, pancreas, brain, or spinal cord, sexually transmitted infections, and poor control of diabetes.”
Just as compelling are the dangers binge drinking poses to the central nervous system. Large amounts of alcohol ingested over a short period time slows breathing and heart rate. Binge drinking interferes with the normal operation of the gag reflex – the body’s defense against choking on vomit. Individuals who pass out due to excessive alcohol consumption are at greater risk for choking on their own vomit because their gag reflex instinct is disordered. Even if a person has not vomited prior to passing out, because blood alcohol levels can continue to rise while a person is unconscious, he or she runs the risk of vomiting. There have been a number of high-profile cases of individuals choking to death on their own vomit, notably the rock drummers John Bonham of Led Zeppelin and Keith Moon of the Who.
Speaking of the CDC
The CDC maintains statistics on binge drinking culled from national surveys. These include:
- Binge drinking is more popular with adults 18 to 34 but binge drinkers 65 and older partake more often—an average of five to six times a month
- Binge drinking is the purview of the affluent—it is more likely to occur in households with incomes of $75,000 or more
- Roughly 92 percent of adults who drink excessively report binge drinking in the past month
- Men binge drink twice as much as women
- 90 percent of alcohol consumed by people under 21 in the U.S. in in the form of binge drinking
- More than half of the alcohol consumed by adults in the U.S. is in the form of binge drinking
Binge ‘til you drop
USA Today reports on average, binge drinking kills six people a day – mostly men. The newspaper cites a CDC study which found in three consecutive years – 2010 to 2012 – more than 2,200 individuals older than 15 died from alcohol poisoning. The greatest number of deaths occur among whites but American Indians and native Alaskans have the highest rate of binge drinking.
Sovereign Health Group
Sovereign Health Group specializes in treating alcohol addiction. Our treatment facility offers an array of programs which address the physical and psychological components of addiction. For more information on alcohol abuse and treatment, call 888-530-4614.
Written by Darren Fraser, Sovereign Health Group Writer