According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six U.S. adults binge drinks at least four times every month. In this case, binge drinking is defined as a man who consumes five or more alcoholic beverages or a woman who consumes four or more drinks in two hours or less. It is also the most common, costly, and deadly pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States.
A person who binge drinks as infrequently as four times a month may not consume enough alcohol to be diagnosed with alcohol use disorder. However, their lack of an addiction does not negate the long-term consequences that they can experience as a result of heavy drinking. Here are six of the most common long-term health and financial effects of binge drinking.
1. Cardiovascular and Heart Problems
The most common cardiovascular problem associated with long-term binge drinking is alcoholic cardiomyopathy, which is the weakening of the heart muscles. Long-term alcohol abuse weakens and thins the heart muscle, affecting its ability to pump blood and disrupting all of the body’s major functions. This can lead to more life-threatening problems such as congestive heart failure and high blood pressure that often results in heart attacks.
2. Brain Degeneration and Nerve Damage
After a while, the impairment that causes temporary brain functioning problems while drunk could become permanent. A common problem experienced by people who excessively drink alcohol is the permanent memory loss associated with dementia. They also may have nervous system problems that result in poor balance and coordination, in addition to a stroke.
3. Different Types of Cancer
Liver cancer is not the only health issue associated with binge drinking. For instance, women who casually drink alcohol are at a greater risk of breast cancer than those who do not. Drinking too much alcohol, even once in a while, can also speed the progression of throat, colon, voice, rectal and other cancers.
4. Lowered Immune Systems
The start of most health problems is when the body cannot defend itself against diseases as efficiently as it did in the past. Too much alcohol, at least periodically, can result in poor immune functioning. This can increase vulnerability to viral and bacterial attacks such as the flu, pneumonia, or pathogenic infections.
5. Consequences of Poor Judgement
Binge drinking is associated with many health problems and consequential actions, including drunk driving and unprotected sex. Alcohol lowers inhibitions and impairs the performance of complex mental and motor functions. The possibility of an unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease is higher when your ability to make safe and rational decisions is impaired. It can also affect those around you. Lowered inhibitions could cause someone to say hurtful things to their loved ones and ruin their relationship. Alcohol can make some people violent, resulting in domestic abuse, physical altercations, and other activities that could put other peoples’ lives at risk.
6. Financial Ramifications
This effect spans over a variety of categories such as inability to control your personal budget or accruing hefty fines because of public intoxication. In addition, it might result in job loss if your alcohol consumption prevents you from prioritizing work. Work injuries, which are more likely to occur if working a labor-intensive job while intoxicated or hungover, could cause you more financial issues than losing your job. Medical bills incurred because of a work accident and property damage, if relevant, are other possible financial ramifications.
Reach Out for Help
Binge drinking, whether it be frequent or infrequent, could lead to alcohol use disorder and more serious health issues. Even if you have not progressed to the state of having an addiction, it is encouraged that you take a moment to assess your habits and speak with a medical professional to keep your health in check.