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Binge Drinking



Binge Drinking Ad.


One, two......threee......fourr...........Remember when to STOP! 


The social phenomenon of ‘Binge drinking’, whilst not new, is fast becoming a more commonly witnessed type of ‘alcohol abuse’, with higher incidents of the activity and the consequential behaviours. Why it has become part of our current culture is related to several factors.




(1) Societal stress & pressure;


(2) Poorly developed or inadequate coping skills;


(3) Peer pressure & encouragement;


(4) Poor role modeling, along with well publicized & widespread acceptance.




The sole purpose of ‘Binge drinking’ is to become intoxicated, as differentiated from the more traditional alcohol abuse & dependence. The binge drinker is more likely to be dependant upon the ‘effect’ of this rather crude & basic coping mechanism employed, as opposed to the substance itself. A binge drinker could, for example, substitute or replace the alcohol with another substance or aberrant means of coping quite effectively to meet their needs. A binge drinker might also be able to go for extended periods without alcohol; between binges. It must be noted, however, that with increased ‘bingeing’ (quantity) & increased frequency, the risk of developing a serious biological/chemical addiction is high. 


The costs of this type of behaviour are many & varied. Antisocial behaviour & crime, aggression & violence, sexual assault (both perpetrator & victim), loss of inhibition with increased vulnerability, physical damage & harm (primary’ – damage to brain, liver, heart & other organs; ‘secondary’- accidents, assaults etc.), and financial difficulties. Many experts believe that this type of excessive consumption in a short period of time causes more potential damage to the body than the consistent regular consumption of alcohol. It can also result in death, through alcohol poisoning &/or aspiration of vomit.  


If you feel you may be a ‘binge drinker’ or at ‘risk’; with the aim of trying to cope with internal psycho-social pressures & stress, seek assistance or help before possible damage might be irreparable.










What constitutes 'Binge Drinking'?



On the 15th June 2008, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) declared that the consuming of four (4) standard drinks a night constituted or defined 'Binge Drinking'. This has brought with it much debate, being superficially not related to the concept of 'rapid intoxication'.

As stated above, 'Binge Drinking' involves the consumption of alcohol with the sole purpose of 'becoming intoxicated' (drunk, pissed, wasted etc.) in a relatively short period of time (that is a widely accepted fact). Unfortunately there exists no standardized, 'world standard' or consensus as to how much alcohol contitutes a 'binge', despite the AMA's definition.

Differing cultures and nationalities have their own interpretations as to what woud be regarded as 'Binge Drinking', though in Australia, the generally accepted measure has been the consumption of five (5) standard drinks for males or four (4) standard drinks for females in approximately one (1) hour. This pertains to a 'typical' adult; one needs to bear in mind that 'binge drinking' is occuring at much younger ages of recent times.

An alcoholic beverage is considered to be a 'standard drink' when it contains 10 grams of alcohol; the size of the drink, the 'glass' ec. are irrelevant when determining a 'standard measure'. Other measures utilised relate to 'blood alcohol levels or concentrations' (BAL or BAC). Each country has differing views with respect to how this applies and over what time frame; and what is considered the 'legal limit'.

Other factors that need to be taken into consideration when attempting to delineate 'bingeing' involve, weight, age, physical condition, history of consumption or resilience, environment & social setting, regularity, consistency or pattern of drinking. Whilse 'Binge Drinking' involves the consumption of alcohol, it has more far reaching implications that simple 'over-indulgence'; it is a societal phenomenon; a worrying trend that indicates a psychological 'need'. Whether this is a means of coping with life & stressors, a means of dealing with internal 'esteem' issues, possible 'self harming' & so on, it is these that heighten the issue with respect to manifested outcomes & effects and pose the problem when considering intervention options. 

Due to the 'non-universal' measurement or calculation of the 'binge', it is wiser & far more realistic to view the behaviour and shift our focus to the reasons & purposes behind excessive deliberate alcohol consumption and the haste by which intoxication is sought & acheived. This is the true challenge, not merely arguing over definitions & semantics. 

The sheer fact that an increasing percentage of our population, primarily those of younger ages, are engaging in harmful, risk taking behaviour that has its' roots in a legal, socially acceptable & promoted substance, to the point where they are putting their very lives in danger; that's the very sad fact; the serious issue for which there appears no solution at present.  





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Michael J. Salamon, Ph.D., FICPP
Senior Psychologist/Director
ADC Psychological Services, PLLC
1728 Broadway, Suite 1
Hewlett, NY 11557







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