ParentClick Ventura

Binge Drinking: More Dangerous Than You Think


Take it from a doctor with years of experience in the emergency room. Dr. Joseph Freeman shares why you should talk to your children about binge drinking before it begins. Especially with Halloween, a notorious party weekend, right around the corner.

What is binge drinking?  Binge drinking is drinking five or more drinks for guys or four or more drinks for girls in a night.  However, here’s an easier way to think of it: if your son or daughter is drinking to get drunk, then it is likely binge drinking.

Why is binge drinking bad?  As more and more studies are done, we are realizing that large amounts of alcohol drunk in a short period of time can have obvious and immediate consequences, such as death, but also less known long-term problems years in the future.  Though human studies are rare because of the ethical implications, studies done on teenage rats show that a small but intense amount of alcohol causes permanent changes in their brain waves even after they become adults. The brain area most sensitive to this type of damage are those of memory, both short and long-term. Binge drinking, especially while the brain is still developing, can forever reduce a person’s ability to form and keep memories.

In addition, drinking too much is the 3rd most common preventable cause of death in the United States, behind smoking tobacco and obesity, and kills 80,000 Americans every year.  40% of all deaths from car, motorcycle, and pedestrian accidents are caused by alcohol use. Not to mention that binge drinking greatly increases the likelihood of sexual assault, other violent crimes, and becoming addicted to alcohol.

What happens when someone binge drinks?  Alcohol is absorbed in the stomach and enters the blood stream, where the liver tries to get rid of it; the body views alcohol as a poison and it’s your liver’s job to get rid of poisons. However, if too much alcohol gets into the blood too quickly, then the liver becomes overwhelmed and can’t get rid of it.  The alcohol can then get into other parts of the body, such as the brain.  Alcohol can get into the deeper parts of the brain that control whether someone is awake or asleep. This is why people “pass out” when they drink too much. This part of the brain also controls whether someone is breathing or not.  If someone has drunk so much that they stop breathing, they will die within a matter of minutes unless they are brought to a hospital.

Alcohol can also be very irritating to the stomach lining and drinking too much too quickly can cause the stomach to start vomiting to try to get rid of the alcohol.  Many deaths caused by binge drinking happen when the alcohol has gotten to the part of the brain that causes unconsciousness at the same time it causes a person to vomit. The person is not be able to get the vomit out of their mouth before they take the next breath and instead inhale the vomit into their lungs, causing them to drown on it.

Binge drinking can have very serious short-term and long-term consequences. 

Talk to your children early and often, before they start drinking. This conversation is very important and can save your child’s life.


June 25, 2015

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