Binge Drinking: Can It Affect My Overall Health?

health effects of binge drinking

As a professional in the healthcare, legal, or aviation field, you face a lot of pressure and stress on a daily basis. You may try to relieve these feelings with an occasional drink or two. You may even engage in binge drinking for various reasons. Did you know that drinking any amount, but especially binge drinking, can affect your overall health?

Binge Drinking Numbers

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking is the equivalent of having four or more drinks within a two-hour period for a woman and five or more during the same timeframe for a man. Binge drinking increases the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 and higher at that point. The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that about 66 million people over the age of 12 reported binge drinking during the previous month.

Binge Drinking Among Professionals

A British study found that doctors, teachers, and lawyers were much more likely to be regular drinkers of alcohol. The researchers determined that drinking rises steadily with socioeconomic status, and higher earners in professional jobs were more likely to have had alcohol in the previous week.

Additional studies have found that about 10-12% of healthcare professionals develop an addiction to alcohol during their careers. The American Bar Association reports that about one in five lawyers in the US has a drinking problem.

Pandemic Trends

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rate of alcohol use, including the rate of binge drinking, has increased significantly. Researchers have found that women in particular are drinking in an unhealthier manner. The frequency of drinking, measured in days per month of alcohol consumption, increased 17% among women and 14% overall. Survey participants reported that they were drinking to cope with stress (53%), to relieve boredom (39%), and to attempt to cope with mental health issues, including depression and anxiety (32%).

The Health Effects

Binge drinking does affect overall health, including mental health. Alcohol affects almost every tissue in the body. Even one episode of binge drinking can compromise the function of the immune system and can lead to acute pancreatitis in people who have underlying pancreatic damage. Repeated episodes of binge drinking, indicating alcohol misuse, contribute to liver disease and increase the risk of many types of cancer.

The immune system is particularly susceptible to the effects of binge drinking. Individuals who drink on a chronic basis are more likely to contract diseases such as tuberculosis and pneumonia than those people do not drink excessively. Drinking a lot at one time, binge drinking, slows the body’s ability to ward off infections. This effect on the body’s health can last up to 24 hours.

The CDC reports that binge drinking is associated with a number of health issues, including:

  • Chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and liver disease
  • Cancer of the liver, breast, throat, mouth, esophagus, and colon
  • Memory and learning problems
  • Unintentional injuries, such as burns, falls, car crashes, and alcohol poisoning
  • Violence including intimate partner violence, homicide, sexual assault, and suicide
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Unintended pregnancy, miscarriage, and stillbirth
  • Alcohol use disorders.

Binge Drinking Can Be Deadly

In addition to affecting your overall health by increasing the potential for chronic disease, injury, or other illness, binge drinking can be fatal. Approximately 95,000 deaths resulted from alcohol misuse over a five year period in one study, with almost half of those deaths associated with binge drinking.

Binge drinking shortened the lives of those individuals by an average of 29 years. Excessive drinking was also found to be responsible for a tenth of the deaths among working age adults, between the ages of 20 and 64.

Alcoholism Treatment for Professionals in Philadelphia

At Providence Treatment, we help professionals overcome their addiction to alcohol and drugs. We understand that it can be overwhelming for you to admit that you need help for your addiction to alcohol. When you are ready to get outpatient addiction treatment in Philadelphia, we are ready to help you. Our expertise is in serving high-profile clients and licensed professionals like you.

Don’t let addiction to alcohol or drugs take over your life. You can overcome addiction at Providence Treatment. If you need help getting clean, then contact us at 484.469.9592, and you can begin your recovery as soon as possible.

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