What is Binge Drinking?

Alcohol is the most widely used drug in Australia and drinking has a high level of social acceptance in our culture, with people drinking after work and at social events on weekends. In recent years, there has been an increased focus on binge drinking, and the potentially harmful effects it can have.

What is binge drinking?

Binge drinking has a number of different definitions, but recommendations from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), suggest that drinking more than four standard drinks on one occasion can lead to harmful effects. Drinkwise Australia defines binge drinking as drinking more than four standard drinks at one sitting, or drinking continuously for an extended period of time without a break in between. Drinking to deliberately get drunk is also considered to fall into the category of binge drinking.

What are the consequences of binge drinking?

Binge drinking can be dangerous in both the short-term and the long-term. Drinking excessively in one sitting can make you more susceptible to accidents and injury. Drinking alcohol to excess has also been shown to increase the likelihood of being involved in a violent incident, both as the perpetrator and the victim. Men have been shown to exhibit more aggressive traits after drinking than women.

The short-term physical effects of binge drinking include hangover, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and fatigue. Being hung over can make it difficult to meet commitments, and your work or study can suffer as a result. Binge drinking can lead to financial problems, and increased violence and aggression.

There are longer term health risks that are also associated with binge drinking. These include an increased risk of death from alcohol-related diseases, such as alcohol poisoning, liver disease, cirrhosis of the liver, and certain types of cancer. The risk of hospitalisation due to injury also increases with regular binge drinking.

Binge drinking and drink driving

Binge drinking can also make it more likely you will do something risky like get in a car with someone who is over the limit, or try to drive while over the limit yourself. Driving the morning after a night of binge drinking can also lead to drink driving charges if police stop you. Drink driving penalties include fines and hefty disqualification periods, depending on the severity of the offence. If you have been charged with drink driving, it’s a good idea to find an experienced drink driving lawyer to offer advice, and represent you in court.

How can I stop binge drinking?

If you are concerned about your level of binge drinking, or that of a friend or family member, there are a few things you can do to try to get things to a more manageable and healthy level. If you have difficulty stopping or reducing your alcohol intake, you might need to speak with a professional to get help.

If you want to reduce your level of binge drinking, here are a few techniques you can try:

  • Slow down your drinking and try alternating alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Avoid situations where you are more likely to binge drink, such as nights out where the focus is on getting drunk.
  • Don’t get involved in buying rounds, as this can mean that you feel obliged to drink a lot over the course of an evening.
  • If you are binge drinking to deal with anxiety, depression or stress look for an alternative way to sort out your underlying issues, rather than drowning them in alcohol.

Binge drinking might seem harmless on the surface, but it can have devastating effects on your health and lifestyle. Remember that you may still be over the legal limit for driving well into the day after a binge drinking session, and don’t take any unnecessary risks. If you do get charged with drink driving after binge drinking, speak to a drink driving lawyer as soon as possible to help reduce the severity of the outcome.

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