Binge Drinking – Is It Really Worth The ‘Fun’?

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There are many of us in India who do not consume alcohol everyday, and only do so from time to time. Parties with friends or a get-together with family members often involve alcoholic drinks, with some crossing over to a higher level of consumption.

‘Getting drunk’ with friends seems to be part and parcel of ‘fitting in’ with friends these days, and an increasing number youngsters in colleges seem to be partaking in large quantities of alcohol on the odd occasion. Heavy alcohol drinking is a rising problem in young adults.Fresh foamy beer

Drinking large quantities of alcohol once in a while while remaining tee-total on the remaining days is called binge drinking. Contrary to popular belief, binge drinking is not safe and can harm the body as much as heavy drinking on a regular basis does.

Let’s take a look at this aspect a little further.

Defining binge drinking

Binge drinking is episodic drinking. For example, if an individual does not drink any alcohol in the week, but goes out on a Saturday and drinks large enough amounts to leave him/her drunk or inebriated, then this is called a ‘binge’.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this occurs when men consume more than 5 drinks or women consume more than 4 drinks in a span of 2 hours.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which conducts the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), defines binge drinking as drinking 5 or more alcoholic drinks on the same occasion on at least 1 day in the past 30 days.

As is evident, there are a number of different definitions of binge drinking that exist, but the general rule is that excessive drinking on the odd occasion is a binge.

So far there does not appear to be any clear statistics on the incidence of binge drinking in India. But with the opening of a number of bars across the country, along with longer hours of opening, there is no doubt that this would increase the incidence of binge drinking remarkably.

Dr Vivek Baliga B
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