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Alcohol Binge Drinking


What is Binge Drinking?

Binge drinking as a pattern of alcohol consumption that involves rapidly drinking alcohol to the point of intoxication (and beyond) separated by periods of abstinence or lower levels of drinking.

Typical guidelines describing binge drinking at least 4 standard alcohol drinks for women or 5 drinks for men within a 2 hour period.

What is a "standard" drink?

Examples of "standard" drink include:

  • 12 oz beer
  • 5 oz wine
  • 1 oz (1 shot) liquor.

While many people have seen these examples of a standard drink before, it is easy to underestimate your level of alcohol consumption because of the size of modern alcohol beverages served and the alcohol content of these beverages.

Things to consider in judging the amount of alcohol you are drinking.

  • The alcohol content of “craft” beers can vary widely. For higher alcohol content beers, a “standard” drink will be less than 12 oz of beer.
  • Just because you can buy a beer in a 36 oz container, does not make it 1 standard drink (i.e. this is the equivalent of 3 drinks).
  • Traditionally, wine goblets were 9 oz in size, which means that a “standard” drink of 5 oz filled slightly more than half the glass. Contemporary goblets tend to be much larger, as much as 12 – 14 oz in size, so half a glass of wine in the larger sizes puts you above a “standard” drink.
  • What is a "standard" drink? - National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
  • How many "standard" drinks in common containers? - National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Isn't Binge drinking just a normal college behavior?

Binge drinking is sometimes perceived as "normal" because it can be relatively common in certain social settings.

Binge drinking is not limited to college settings.

  • The majority of binge alcohol drinkers (69%) are older than traditional college age students (>26 years)
  • Of the roughly 110 million drinkers in the United States, about 20% reported binge alcohol drinking in the past month
  • San Antonio, Texas ranks first among the top 20 U.S. metropolitan areas in the prevalence of binge drinking

What is so bad about binge drinking anyway, it's not like I drink every day? Just (Thursday), Friday and Saturday nights.

Binge drinking accounts for more alcohol related deaths than all other patters of alcohol use.

  • While the health consequences associated with chronic alcoholism tend to develop slowly over time, the health consequences of binge drinking may be experienced after one or very few episodes. This is because binge drinking is associated with a high degree of unintentional injury (car accidents, falls), violence, and risky behavior.
  • At a minimum binge drinking involves consuming 4 – 5 times more alcohol than what is considered by doctors to be a safe or healthy quantity.
  • What are the risks? - National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
  • What are the symptoms of an alcohol use disorder - National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

What is considered a "safe" or "healthy" amount of alcohol to drink.

Large scale studies considering both the health risks and benefits of alcohol consumption tend to find that about 1 standard drink per day is the maximum amount a healthy adult may drink. However, your own safe level of drinking may be less than this or to not drink alcohol at all, depending on your unique health background, social circumstance, and set of risk/protective factors.

I can drink 5 drinks without feeling the effects, that means my "safe" level of drinking is higher than 1 drink right?

Wrong. If you are not able to perceive changes in how you feel after consuming 5 drinks in a short period of time, you likely have developed what doctors call tolerance. Tolerance is your body's way of adapting to your pattern of alcohol intake. While tolerance may result in you needing larger and larger quantities to feel the euphoric or intoxicating feelings of alcohol, you still may be experience problems with motor coordination at lower levels (prior to feeling buzzed). Because of this, you should not base your decision to operate a motor vehicle based on how “buzzed” you feel, consider the amount you have been drinking and in what time period.



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