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How Much Is Binge Drinking? [Definition, Effects & Health Risks]

In Binge drinking by Yuliya Richard

Have you ever been on a night out with friends and wondered exactly how much is binge drinking? Is it only considered ‘binge drinking’ if you end up drunk? Or can you binge drink yet still remaining fairly sober? The answers may surprise you… In this article, we look at the definition, effects, and health risks, as well as address the key question ‘so, how much is binge drinking’?


How Much Is Binge Drinking Compared With Healthy Drinking?

It’s a party and you are having a great time. The drinks are flowing. Pretty soon you’ve had 4, then 5, 6, then 7 drinks, and you are completely smashed. While this may sound like something people love to do, it’s also the definition of binge drinking, and it’s something we’ve seen many people under thirty struggle with. Let’s look at an average level of drinking versus binge drinking, to show how impulsive behavior can drastically harm someone…


Average Drinking

For women, low-risk drinking is defined as no more than 3 drinks on any single day and no more than 7 drinks per week. For men, it is defined as no more than 4 drinks on any single day and no more than 14 drinks per week. Research shows that only about 2% of people who drink within these limits have an alcohol dependence.

This is strictly defined behavior that shows the amount of alcohol that can benefit a person’s health. It does have several health benefits but presents the least amount of risk and chance to do longer-term damage to the person’s mind and body.


Binge Drinking Definition

Binge drinking is frequently defined as a man having 5 or more drinks in a 2-hour period, or a woman having 4 or more drinks in the same period. Over 10% of people will binge drink on a monthly basis. An estimated 20% of people will binge drink a dangerous amount of alcohol at least once a year. And of those numbers, the age group that is represented the most among binge drinkers is 18-34.


Q: How much is binge drinking?

A: 5 or more drinks in a 2-hour period for a man, 4 or more drinks in a 2-hour period for a woman


Binge Drinking Effects & Health Risks

There are also many health risks associated with binge drinking, as opposed to more average drinking. People who binge drink are normally more impulsive to begin with. The binge only makes that more so, to the point of dangerous recklessness. Some of the consequences and effects of impulsive decisions made while drunk can include:

  • Unintentional injuries such as car crashes, falls, burns, and alcohol poisoning.
  • Violence including homicide, suicide, intimate partner violence, and sexual assault.
  • Increased risk of arrest and criminal charges.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases from risky, unprotected sex.
  • Unintended pregnancy and poor pregnancy outcomes, including miscarriage, stillbirth, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and sudden infant death syndrome.
  • Chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and liver disease.
  • Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon.
  • Memory and learning problems, brain damage.
  • Alcohol dependence and addiction.
  • Coma and death.

Let’s be clear, this is a list of worst-case scenarios. But when someone binge drinks, they lose control. They increase the risk of hurting themselves or someone they love. While someone who drinks more than five drinks in a 2-hour period may not be an addict, they have automatically just raised the odds they will become one. And every time they binge drink, the odds go up that much more.

Once a binge is happening, the person will have little control over themselves. It will be just a matter of trying to hopefully keep them safe. The ability to curb impulses when you are that far under the influence are small at best. Our job is to make sure the binge does not start and to try to keep everyone safe this way.

So, now your know exactly how much is binge drinking and how much is average drinking. These behaviours we’ve mentioned are clear warning signs of hazards ahead. If you recognize the signs and think you or someone you know may be suffering from binge drinking or may have an alcohol problem, then the next step is to seek professional help. To learn more about what we can do, please look at our online course or contact us directly.