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What Is Binge Drinking?


August 4th, 2010 – Posted by James W. West M.D. F.A.C.S. in Doctors Office

      


The following information is provided by James Golden, M.D., Inpatient Addiction Physician, Betty Ford Center, in reference to a recent headline death from binge drinking:
            The NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) defines a “binge” as a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 gram percent or above.  For the typical adult, this is often interpreted as consuming five or more standard drinks (male) or four or more drinks (female) over approximately two hours.  For the purposes of this definition, a drink refers to half an ounce of alcohol, e.g. one 12-ounce beer, one five ounce glass of wine or a 1.5 ounce shot of distilled spirits.
            The disease of addiction always eventually gets out of control.  The absorption of alcohol may be somewhat unpredictable and/or rise quickly to lethal levels if one consumes large quantities very rapidly.  Given the level of tolerance a person might have – combined with the extra added binge on just one occasion – it’s not surprising that the eventual blood alcohol level can rise to a lethal state.
            Other consequences of binge drinking may include brain damage, alcohol poisoning, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular issues and even skeletal muscle damage.
            Additional information for this piece came from www.ias.org.uk and www.niaaa.nih.gov/


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3 Responses to “What Is Binge Drinking?”

  1. Mona Lisa says:

    You say that: “The disease of addiction always eventually gets out of control.”

    Please explain this statement in light of the findings of the 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), a project of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA, which showed that:

    More than one-third (35.9 percent) of U.S. adults with alcohol dependence (alcoholism) that began more than one year ago are now in full recovery, according to an article in the current issue of Addiction. The fully recovered individuals show symptoms of neither alcohol dependence nor alcohol abuse and either abstain or drink at levels below those known to increase relapse risk. They include roughly equal proportions of abstainers (18.2 percent) and low-risk drinkers (17.7 percent). The analysis is based on data from the 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), a project of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

    One-quarter (25.0 percent) of individuals with alcohol dependence that began more than one year ago now are dependent, 27.3 percent are in partial remission (that is, exhibit some symptoms of alcohol dependence or alcohol abuse), and 11.8 percent are asymptomatic risk drinkers with no symptoms but whose consumption increases their chances of relapse (for men, more than 14 drinks per week or more than four drinks on any day; for women, more than 7 drinks per week or more than three drinks on any day).

  2. Betty Ford Center says:

    Our comment refers to the disease of addiction, which would have manifested in a person before he or she became part of a study such as this. The study shows that once the person enters and stays in recovery, dramatic results may be achieved.

  3. Johnny B. says:

    Binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks for men or four or more for women in a short period of time.

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