In the United States, one in six adults participate in heavy or binge drinking about four times a month. While binge drinking can have its social appeal, it is a serious issue that can easily lead to health problems both in the short- and long-term. However, binge drinking is 100% preventable and there are still low-risk ways for you to enjoy a drink of your choice, safely. See what you can do to prevent overdrinking.
What is Considered Binge Drinking?
Binge drinking is defined by the amount of alcohol consumed in a relatively short amount of time (roughly 2 hours). When someone binge drinks, their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level will reach 0.08 g/dl and can experience symptoms like:
- Slower reflexes
- Slurred speech
- Nausea and vomiting
- Memory loss (blackouts)
- Physical coordination loss
- Changes to heartbeat, breathing and blood pressure
- Passing out
While these symptoms will vary based on age, lifestyle patterns and genetics, men and women will also have different alcohol limits.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), a 0.08 BAC level occurs after 5 or more standard alcoholic drinks for men and 4 or more drinks for women.
Additionally, American Addiction Centers outlines what is considered a “standard alcohol drink” which includes:
- 12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol)
- 8-9 ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol)
- 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol)
- 1.5 ounces of hard liquor (40% alcohol)
Photo credit: American Addiction Centers
How to Keep Alcohol Consumption Safe
There is a way to consume alcohol in a low-risk way. The NIAAA recommends different alcohol per day/per week goals. However, both criteria must be met in order to be considered low-risk, meaning you cannot drink more than the per week limit if you decide to drink daily. For men and women, the following are considered low-risk drinking.
- 4 or less drinks per day
- And less than 14 drinks per week
- 3 or less drinks per day
- And less than 7 drinks per Week
Another way to stay safe while consuming alcohol is to avoid drinking and driving at all costs. While the legal BAC limit is 0.08, it is highly recommended that if you drink any amount of alcohol that you do not drive. This is because alcohol can impair reaction times which could lead to serious, even fatal accidents.
Instead, designate a driver amongst your friends when you go out or call an Uber, Lyft or any ride sharing service to drive you home.
When to Seek Help
If you are regularly binge drinking, you may be putting yourself at risk for health problems as well as alcohol use disorder. However, our Community Health Center is here to offer resources to help you fight against alcohol addiction. We are partnered with The Central Virginia Hope Initiative, a network of recovery service providers that can help you lead a life of sobriety. To start, just set up an appointment or walk-in. We are here to help.