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

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Why all the fuss about binge drinking?

You may wonder why drinking once in a while is such a big deal. Many would even think that drinking regularly would be more of a problem that just having the odd social drink in a large amount.

While heavy drinking on a regular basis is no doubt harmful, binge drinking also has a number of harmful effects on the body. In addition, it could be harmful to others.

Let’s take a look at some of the effects.

1. Irregular heart beating (atrial fibrillation)

We touched upon this in our article on ‘alcohol and the heart’. Consuming a heavy binge can make the heart beat in an irregular fashion. This can sometimes cause symptoms such as giddiness, breathing difficulty and a general feeling of being unwell. Some patients may need to be admitted to hospital for treatment, which could include electric shock therapy.

2. Road  traffic accidents

Following a binge, attempting to drive any kind of motor vehicle (car, bike, rickshaw etc.) can not only be a risk to the individual, it can also be a risk to others who are abiding by traffic rules.

The current permissible limit for drinking and driving following an alcoholic drink in India is a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.03%. This amounts to less than 30 microliter alcohol per 100 mL of blood. If caught, in addition to the monetary fine of Rs. 3000, a 6 month jail term may be imposed. Repeat offenders will be punished a lot harder, and these are based on the levels of alcohol in the blood. People risk being shamed in public, and this can no doubt have consequences on their personal and professional lives.

Having a binge drink and driving can cause accidents and fatalities. Innocent people have been killed in these accidents, causing the loss of a loved family member(s) for both sides. The pain and suffering one such accident can bring is insufferable.

The best policy is this – If you plan to have a drink, just don’t drive at all. Use a taxi or get a sober friend/family member to take you home.

3. Mental health problems

Binge drinking has been shown to increase the chances of developing depression. Alterations in mood are common, and may require professional help.

4. Death

This is rare. Heavy binges have caused individuals to be knocked unconscious due to the effects it has on the brain. In this state of unconsciousness, individuals have vomited without realising it. The vomit can enter the lungs and can stop breathing completely. This can be fatal.

Avoidance is the best policy

At HeartSense, we recommend that individuals who wish to have a drink do so in moderation. Avoiding alcohol completely is undoubtedly the best policy. However, those who wish to partake in a drink with friends or family on the odd occasion must limit themselves to no more than 1 small drink.

Remember, the repercussions are really not worth it.



Dr Vivek Baliga B
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