As one of the more dangerous forms of recreational alcohol use, those who engage in binge drinking do so for one primary reason: to get drunk, quickly. Technically speaking, binge drinking entails consuming five or more drinks in two hours for men, or four or more drinks for women in the same amount of time. While this practice will most definitely get you drunk, it also strains the body’s systems in harmful ways.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, within the United States, binge drinking exists as the most common form of excessive alcohol use. Though popular it may be, understanding the dangers that come with binge drinking can help you take steps to ensure your safety and well-being, both now and in the future.
Alcohol’s primary effect works to slow chemical activities throughout the brain and central nervous system. It does this by increasing GABA neurotransmitter output, which slows cell activities in the brain. Alcohol also decreases glutamate neurotransmitter output, which reduces electrical activity in the brain.
These combined effects account for the feelings of calm and gradual loss of focus and coordination that occur when drinking. With binge drinking, alcohol’s effects cause an abrupt and drastic shift in overall brain activity to take place.
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Dangers of Binge Drinking
Binge drinking increases your risk of getting in a car accident.
The effects of binge drinking impair a person’s perceptions, reasoning, emotions and coordination within a short period of time. These changes greatly increase the likelihood of accidents and injury. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, the most common injury-related risks associated with binge drinking include:
While the occasional bout of binge drinking doesn’t necessarily predispose a person to alcohol addiction, in large quantities, alcohol produces certain aftereffects that make the brain and body more susceptible to physical dependence and eventual addiction. Over time, the effects of binge drinking wear down chemical-producing brain cells making them less sensitive to alcohol’s effects.
Before long, a person will have to consume larger quantities to experience the desired “drunk” effects of binge drinking. These developments set the stage for alcoholism to take shape.
As a powerful central nervous system depressant, the effects of binge drinking can easily shut down one or more of the body’s major systems when large enough quantities are consumed. According to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, once a person’s blood alcohol level reaches a certain point, drastic drops in body temperature and/or the shutdown of the body’s respiratory system can quickly result in overdose and even death.
The aftereffects of frequent binge drinking gradually compromise the brain’s overall functional capacity making the need for alcohol a necessity for normal functioning. Once a person reaches this point, the need for professional treatment help increases with each passing day.
If you suspect you or someone you know may be succumbing to the effects of binge drinking and need help finding treatment that meets your needs, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-481-6320 to speak with one of our addictions specialists.
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