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The Many Dangers of Binge Drinking

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The Many Dangers of Binge Drinking

  • Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking alcohol which brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08% or above. For the typical adult this pattern corresponds to consuming five or more drinks for a male or four or more drinks for a female in about two hours time.
  • The Impact of Binge drinking
  • Heavy binge drinking by adolescents and young adults has been linked to long-term health consequences including heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and other metabolic disorders. For people who started drinking later in life and those who drink moderately, the risks are much lower for health conditions known as the metabolic syndrome.
  • Binge drinkers had trouble distinguishing between relevant and irrelevant information, were less efficient in completing the tasks, required greater attentional processing and had problems with the tasks even when they completed the tasks, compared with nondrinkers.
  • Not only are attention and memory affected, binge drinkers also have displayed problems with verbal learning skills. For students--high school and college--this can hamper their chances of achieving academic success.
  • Studies have found that although visual learning ability was not significantly affected, binge drinkers had a lower ability to learn new verbal information. The effect was the same for both male and female binge drinkers.
  • Using high-resolution images of the brain, one researcher has discovered that binge drinking physically makes changes to the brain - thinning the pre-frontal cortex. The more drinks a person has, the more the cortex is thinned. That is important because the pre-frontal cortex is the part of the brain associated with paying attention, planning, making decisions, processing emotions and controlling impulses that lead to irrational behavior.
  • Binge drinkers have an increased risk for injuries and violence, but there are several research studies that document the link. One study of 8,736 E.R. visits found that it wasn't the chronic, heavy-drinking alcoholics who experienced the most injuries, it was the light to moderate drinkers who sometimes drank heavily who had the most injuries. The risk of injury increased for all types of drinkers, but the risk was the highest for binge drinkers.
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