Binge Drinking – a Closer Look
Are you the type of guy that likes to drink just to get drunk? Or do you regularly consume large quantities of alcohol? Well, you might have a problem with binge drinking. For guys, that can be a difficult topic of discussion, but it’s one you should have.
Men are nearly three times more likely than women to become alcohol dependent (8.7% of men are alcohol dependent compared to 3.3% of women). That’s according to the England’s National Health Service (NHS).
Yet, most people who binge drink aren’t alcoholics. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that approximately 23% of adult men binge drink five times a month. For men, you’re considered a binge drinker if you take five or more drinks within a two-hour time span.
That’s for a man with an average bodyweight and height. So, you can see that there’s some wiggle room there, but you should use these measurements as a guideline. Also, your tolerance level can be influenced by how much you’ve eaten, even your ethnicity and age.
There are some obvious side effects of drinking too much alcohol. You can hurt other people. You can fall or hurt yourself. You could even die, and no amount of cool points are worth that price.
You might think you have your excessive drinking under control, but there are some dangers of binge drinking that you might not be aware of.
1. You Can’t Make Good Decisions
If you’ve ever been hungover then you know that its next to impossible to get anything done the next day. Your mind is just so foggy and unfocused. It takes forever to remember simple bits of information like your PIN or where you put your car keys.
Researchers at the University of Bath think they’ve finally figured out what’s going on inside your brain. They published their findings in the Journal of Clinical Medicine back in April of 2020. The goal of their research was to determine how excessive drinking affects the cognitive function of the brain after a heavy binge.
What they found was that after you’re hungover, you struggle to retain information in your short-term memory. You also have difficulty setting goals and switching between tasks. These are called executive functions and they’re essential to making good decisions.
Senior author, Dr Sally Adams from the Addiction & Mental Health Group, said that “our data show that this impairment is likely the result of reduced capability in several core executive functions, which are important for tasks such as workplace performance and driving.”
Related: Can coconut water cure hangovers?
2. Severe Dehydration Can Happen
You might be drinking a lot of fluids, but you can become severely dehydrated from excessive alcohol consumption. It’s a diuretic. If you consume too much alcohol, then your kidneys are put under a tremendous amount of strain. Frequent urination, vomiting and diarrhea can make it even worse.
It seems contradictory – that drinking more alcohol makes you lose more fluids, but that’s the science. Think about it. Have you seen the line going into the restroom while you’re at the bar or the club? Drinking alcohol makes you urinate more frequently.
There’s a hormone called vasopressin that sends signals to your kidneys. It tells your kidneys when to reabsorb water instead of flushing it out. When you drink a lot of alcohol, that hormone signal gets dampened. Your kidneys just want to flush everything out of your system.
3. Binge Drinking May Cause a Psychotic Episode
Binge drinking can directly affect your brain’s function and alters various chemical and hormonal systems. People with alcohol dependencies also face personal problems that exacerbate conditions that lead to mental health breakdowns.
There is a real danger of having a psychotic episode if you’re severely intoxicated or even suffering from withdrawal from alcohol. Yet, sometimes, patients are misdiagnosed with depression or personality disorders because they are exhibiting the same symptoms. These are called alcohol-induced syndromes.
If you’re experiencing an alcohol-induced syndrome, then it might seem like you’re suffering from major depression, panic disorder, schizophrenia. The truth is – if you just stop drinking, your symptoms might subside over time.
4. Possible Sexual Dysfunctions
Drinking alcohol might help loosen up your tongue so you can talk to your crush but beware of its effects on your sexual performance.
Alcoholism is the leading cause of sexual dysfunction in men. It can cause impotence, erectile dysfunction, reduced sexual desire, low testosterone, and premature ejaculation.
There was a study conducted by an addiction center in India that looked at a hundred men who were suffering from an addiction to alcohol. The therapists who conducted the study found that 71% of men in the study had sexual dysfunctions related to excessive drinking.
The study participants ranged in age between 20 and 50 years old. They also had regular sexual partners. The highest percentage of sexual dysfunction was premature ejaculation. So, you might want to cut back on binge drinking if you want to last longer in the sack.
5. Binge Drinking Can Wreck Your Sleep
You might not believe this one because when you’re drunk you pass out so easily. Yes, it’s true – consuming alcohol makes you drowsy. It’s easy to fall asleep after you’ve had a few. Alcohol is a depressant and it goes to work right away to relax your body.
Falling asleep isn’t the problem. When you drink too much alcohol, you disturb the natural rhythms of your sleep. You fall asleep easily, but there’s a conflict going on in your brain.
You see, the deep sleep delta brain waves are competing with the calm, relaxed, stage one alpha waves.
The result is that you don’t enter the phase of sleep that restores your body and sends you into REM sleep. You’ll wake up feeling groggy and unrested, even though you might have been out for several hours.
Another important side effect of binge drinking is that it burns through your supply of adenosine. That’s the sleep-inducing chemical that puts you out so fast when you’re drunk. You fall asleep quickly, but you’re more likely to wake up frequently in the night.
Tips for Avoiding Binge Drinking
Drink slowly and alternate drinks with a glass of water.
Put a limit on the total amount you drink on any single occasion.
Avoid drinking games and risky situations that involve consuming too much alcohol.
Wrapping it Up
Statistically, men drink more alcohol and regularly engage in binge drinking. The main side effects of excessive drinking are well known and documented.
Yet, there are some things that happen when you over-indulge in alcohol that are lesser known.
You might not have known that excessive drinking disrupts your ability to make clear decision for days after a heavy session. You can become so severely dehydrated that you need to be hospitalized. Binge drinking wrecks your sleep cycles and can cause psychotic episodes.
So, take a good look in the mirror if you’re experiencing any of these side effects of excessive drinking. It’s perfectly okay to say “no” or limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
If you still feel that you need help with excessive drinking, then consult experts in addiction therapy and discuss your options.