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The dangers of binge drinking

Stress from the COVID-19 pandemic can trigger compensating behaviors, like excessive drinking. Here's what you need to know about drinking too much.

“Binge drinking is a pattern of heavy drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 percent or above,” says Vikash Modi, M.D., a family medicine physician at Piedmont. “Heavy drinking is often defined as more than three to four drinks per day for women and more than five to six drinks per day for men.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in six adults in the United States binge drinks about four times a month, consuming nearly eight drinks per binge.

And though college students are often stereotyped as the main culprits, 70 percent of binge drinking episodes involve adults who are 26 years old and older.

“Binge drinking is a common habit, particularly amongst men,” Dr. Modi says. “Men are twice as likely to binge drink as women. However in recent years, the gender gap has been closing. A 2013 study by the CDC showed nearly 14 million U.S. women binge drink about three times a month, downing nearly six beverages per binge." 

Why do people binge drink?

Addiction specialists have identified the following reasons for binge drinking:

  • It’s a coping mechanism that people use to deal with problems.

  • It’s fun, particularly at parties and special events.

  • It helps people feel uninhibited and more self-confident.

  • It happens when people succumb to peer pressure.

  • It’s a form of rebellion.

The health risks of binge drinking

“Binge drinking can lead to a host of negative consequences and health problems,” Dr. Modi says.

This can include:

How much alcohol can you drink?

“Defining 'healthy' consumption of alcohol varies widely by person, but the consensus by the U.S. government for safe levels for alcohol consumption is two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women,” Dr. Modi says.

A standard drink in the United States equals about 12 grams of alcohol. This is equivalent to:

  • One 12-ounce bottle of beer (4.5 percent alcohol)

  • One 5-ounce glass of wine (12.9 percent alcohol)

  • A 1-ounce serving (about a shot glass) of 80-proof distilled spirits.

Dr. Modi practices at Piedmont Physicians Brookhaven, located at 3925 Peachtree Road Northeast, Suite 300, Brookhaven, GA 30319. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Modi or one of our other primary care providers. Save time, book online.

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