Binge drinking is not just the incredibly dangerous cult tradition of drinking 21 shots on one’s 21st birthday. Binge drinking occurs every day, by both genders, by all races, by practically every age group, and in every income bracket.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking is “a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks, and when women consume 4 or more drinks, in about 2 hours.” This is the level used to determine if someone can be charged with driving under the influence.
To assess whether a drinking episode would be considered a binge, go to the website, http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/tools-quizzes/Blood%20Alcohol%20Calculator. There you will find a tool to calculate levels of intoxication. Essentially the higher the alcohol content (e.g., a shot has about 40%, wine 11-13% and beer 4-7%), the lower the body weight, and/or the shorter the period of time spent drinking, the faster blood alcohol concentration increases.
In the United States, half of all adult alcohol consumption is in the form of binge drinking, especially at holidays. Binge drinkers are not typically alcohol dependent and they are twice as likely to be male. People under 21 who drink binge 90% of the time but bingers age 65+ binge more frequently. Getting drunk is more likely if your household income is $75,000 or higher. A little over 16% of U.S. adults consume about eight drinks per binge.
Extreme binging puts people at risk of death by overdose (poisoning). That’s because intoxication depresses the nerves that control breathing and gagging. The body tries to rid itself of toxin by vomiting but people sometimes choke on their vomit and die by asphyxiation (suffocating). If someone passes out, don’t assume s/he can sleep it off because blood alcohol content keeps rising since there is still alcohol in the stomach that hasn’t hit the bloodstream yet. The signs of alcohol poisoning include:
– Stupor/coma/person can’t be roused
– Slow breathing (less than eight breaths per minute)
– Irregular breathing (10+ seconds between breaths)
– Bluish skin color/low body temperature
Don’t guess at a person’s drunkenness or wait for all symptoms to appear. If you suspect alcohol overdose, call 911 immediately and remain with the binger to ensure s/he doesn’t choke on vomit and that s/he continues to breathe.
Stockton is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and owner of Inner Peace Coaching & Counseling located at 4030 Mount Carmel Tobasco Road in Cincinnati. For more information, please call 513.201.5949 or visit https://www.lindastockton.com.