High-Risk Alcohol Use and Binge Drinking
SHORT-TERM EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL
Depending on how much is taken and the physical condition of the individual, alcohol can cause:
- Slurred speech
- Upset stomach
- Breathing difficulties
- Distorted vision and hearing
- Impaired judgment
- Decreased perception and coordination
- Anemia (loss of red blood cells)
- Blackouts (memory lapses, where the drinker cannot remember events that occurred while under the influence)
LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL
Binge drinking (consuming 5 or more drinks in one sitting for men, 4 or more drinks in one sitting for women) and continued alcohol use in large amounts are associated with many health problems, including:
- Unintentional injuries such as car crash, falls, burns, drowning
- Intentional injuries such as firearm injuries, sexual assault, domestic violence
- Increased on-the-job injuries and loss of productivity
- Increased family problems, broken relationships
- Alcohol poisoning
- High blood pressure, stroke, and other heart-related diseases
- Liver disease
- Nerve damage
- Sexual problems
- Permanent damage to the brain
- Vitamin B1 deficiency, which can lead to a disorder characterized by amnesia, apathy and disorientation
- Gastritis (inflammation of stomach walls)
- Cancer of the mouth and throat
For information about minimum sanctions, law, and Coastal Carolina's alcohol and drug policy, please visit the Department of Public Safety.
ALCOHOL USE AND HEALTH
There are approximately 80,000 deaths attributable to excessive alcohol use each year in the United States. This makes excessive alcohol use the 3rd leading lifestyle-related cause of death for the nation. Excessive alcohol use is responsible for 2.3 million years of potential life lost (YPLL) annually, or an average of about 30 years of potential life lost for each death. In 2006, there were more than 1.2 million emergency room visits and 2.7 million physician office visits due to excessive drinking.
Excessive drinking includes heavy drinking, binge drinking, and any drinking by pregnant women or underage youth.
- Binge drinking, the most common form of excessive alcohol consumption, is defined as consuming:
- For women, four or more drinks during a single occasion.
- For men, five or more drinks during a single occasion.
- Heavy drinking is defined as consuming:
- For women, more than one drink per day on average.
- For men, more than two drinks per day on average.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, if you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation, which is defined as no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men. However, there are some persons who should not drink any alcohol, including those who are:
- Pregnant or trying to become pregnant.
- Taking prescription or over-the-counter medications that may cause harmful reactions when mixed with alcohol.
- Younger than age 21.
- Recovering from alcoholism or are unable to control the amount they drink.
- Suffering from a medical condition that may be worsened by alcohol.
- Driving, planning to drive, or participating in other activities requiring skill, coordination, and alertness.
Immediate Health Risks
Excessive alcohol use has immediate effects that increase the risk of many harmful health conditions. These immediate effects are most often the result of binge drinking and include the following:
- Unintentional injuries, including traffic injuries, falls, drownings, burns, and unintentional firearm injuries.
- Violence, including intimate partner violence and child maltreatment. About 35 percent of victims report that offenders are under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol use is also associated with two out of three incidents of intimate partner violence. Studies have also shown that alcohol is a leading factor in child maltreatment and neglect cases, and is the most frequent substance abused among these parents.
- Risky sexual behaviors, including unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners, and increased risk of sexual assault. These behaviors can result in unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.
- Miscarriage and stillbirth among pregnant women, and a combination of physical and mental birth defects among children that last throughout life.
- Alcohol poisoning, a medical emergency that results from high blood alcohol levels that suppress the central nervous system and can cause loss of consciousness, low blood pressure and body temperature, coma, respiratory depression or death.
Long-Term Health Risks
Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases, neurological impairments and social problems. These include but are not limited to:
- Neurological problems, including dementia, stroke and neuropathy.
- Cardiovascular problems, including myocardial infarction, cardiomyopathy, atrial fibrillation and hypertension.
- Psychiatric problems, including depression, anxiety, and suicide.
- Social problems, including unemployment, lost productivity and family problems.
- Cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon, and breast. In general, the risk of cancer increases with increasing amounts of alcohol.
- Liver diseases, including:
- Alcoholic hepatitis.
- Cirrhosis, which is among the 15 leading causes of all deaths in the United States.
- Among persons with Hepatitis C virus, worsening of liver function and interference with medications used to treat this condition.
- Other gastrointestinal problems, including pancreatitis and gastritis.
A SNAPSHOT OF HIGH RISK COLLEGE DRINKING CONSEQUENCES
- Death: 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes.
- Injury: 599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol.
- Assault: 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.
- Sexual Abuse: 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
- Unsafe Sex: 400,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 had unprotected sex and more than 100,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report having been too intoxicated to know if they consented to having sex.
- Academic Problems: About 25 percent of college students report academic consequences of their drinking including missing class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall.
- Health Problems/Suicide Attempts: More than 150,000 students develop an alcohol-related health problem, and between 1.2 and 1.5 percent of students indicate that they tried to commit suicide within the past year due to drinking or drug use.
- Drunk Driving: 3,360,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 drive under the influence of alcohol.
- Vandalism: About 11 percent of college student drinkers report that they have damaged property while under the influence of alcohol.
- Property Damage: More than 25 percent of administrators from schools with relatively low drinking levels and over 50 percent from schools with high drinking levels say their campuses have a "moderate" or "major" problem with alcohol-related property damage.
- Police Involvement: About 5 percent of 4-year college students are involved with the police or campus security as a result of their drinking, and 110,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are arrested for an alcohol-related violation such as public drunkenness or driving under the influence .
- Alcohol Abuse and Dependence: About 9.6 percent of full-time college students ages 18 to 22 met the criteria for alcohol use disorder, according to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
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. This typically happens when men consume five or more drinks, and when women consume four or more drinks, in about two hours. Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent.
According to national surveys:
- One in six U.S. adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about eight drinks per binge.
- While binge drinking is more common among young adults aged 18–34 years, binge drinkers aged 65 years and older report binge drinking more often—an average of five to six times a month.
- Binge drinking is more common among those with household incomes of $75,000 or more than among those with lower incomes.
- Approximately 92 percent of U.S. adults who drink excessively report binge drinking in the past 30 days.
- Although college students commonly binge drink, 70% of binge drinking episodes involve adults age 26 years and older.
- The prevalence of binge drinking among men is twice the prevalence among women.
- Binge drinkers are 14 times more likely to report alcohol-impaired driving than non-binge drinkers.
- About 90 percent of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the United States is in the form of binge drinks.
- More than half of the alcohol consumed by adults in the United States is in the form of binge drink
Binge drinking is associated with many health problems, including:
- Unintentional injuries (e.g., car crashes, falls, burns, drowning)
- Intentional injuries (e.g., firearm injuries, sexual assault, domestic violence)
- Alcohol poisoning
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Unintended pregnancy
- Children born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
- High blood pressure, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases
- Liver disease
- Neurological damage
- Sexual dysfunction, and
- Poor control of diabetes.
Binge drinking costs everyone
- Drinking too much, including binge drinking, cost the United States $223.5 billion in 2006, or $1.90 a drink, from losses in productivity, health care, crime, and other expenses.
- Binge drinking cost federal, state, and local governments about 62 cents per drink in 2006, while federal and state income from taxes on alcohol totaled only about 12 cents per drink.