DRUG AND ALCOHOL BINGE ADDICTION
The term, “binge,” is defined as indulging in a behavior or consumption of a substance (food, alcohol, drugs) in excess over a period of time. When one binges on alcohol or drugs, a large amount of the substance is consumed in a short period of time. The increased amount per consumption and the increased frequency of use during the binge episode can lead to significant health problems, such as addiction, mental health issues, medical problems, overdose, failure to meet work and family obligations and criminal behavior.
The quintessential form of alcohol and drug binging occurs at colleges and during the teen years at parties. Think of spring break in Florida. This has led to colleges and the government working towards improving alcohol and drug education of young American’s on the dangers of binge use and to the implementation of increased penalties for those who engage in binge behavior.
The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration defines binge drinking as 5 or more alcoholic drinks on the same occasion on at least one day in the past 30 days; whereas the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that produces blood alcohol concentrations (BAC of great than 0.08 g/dL. This can occur in women after 4 drink or men after 5 drinks in a 2-hour period. There is no set standard in terms of what quantity of drugs must be consumed over a period of time in order to be defined as binge use. However, it is safe to say that binge use is associated with periods of heavy use followed by periods of no use or the use of lesser quantities of a drug.
Surprisingly, those who engage in drug and alcohol binges can suffer from greater consequences than those who habitually use a substance. This is because with alcohol and drug binges comes significant intoxication and the engagement in risky behaviors, such as driving under the influence, unprotected sexual intercourse, assaults and behaviors that lead to accidental injuries. Further, the high blood levels of the drug or alcohol can lead to significant medical problems like overdose, liver toxicity and kidney problems.
Alcohol and drug binges can last for a day, or a few days to a few weeks. After a period of use, the user eventually stops the binge due to unrelenting obligations, running out of the substance or funds for the substance, or because they cannot physically continue the use. It is important that binge use can easily progress into daily use and a full-blow drug or alcohol addiction.
The insidious nature of drug and alcohol addiction, binge-type leads to it being difficult to recognize and to treat. The first signs of a binge-type addiction may be legal consequences, or the failure to meet expected family and social obligations. Because binge use, especially that of alcohol, is socially acceptable in many cultures, it is not commonly viewed as a problem. However, there is a strong association with repeated alcohol and drug binge behavior and the development of an addiction. Furthermore, repeated binge behavior that leads to impaired control, social impairment and risky use meets the definition of a substance use disorder. In other words, the person is suffering from an addiction.
If you or a loved one is suffering from an alcohol or drug addiction, binge-type, it is important to keep note of the patterns of use, the amount used and the consequences. The pattern of use is significant because this information can be used to identify triggers. Sometimes those with a continuous drug or alcohol addiction will cease the use of the substance, only to restart the behavior later. In doing so, the amount and frequency of use can be the same as it was before the period of abstinence or but oftentimes is much greater. This poses great health risks, especially the risk of overdose as the body may no longer have tolerance to the substance as it did before.
Behavioral Wellness and Recovery’s drug and alcohol addiction team is experienced in the treatment of binge-type addictions. If you or a loved one is ready to prevent the consequences of a binge-type drug and alcohol addiction, you may contact one of our Admission Specialists at 800-683-4457. We are happy to confidentially answer your questions.
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