Binge drinking means drinking a lot and very quickly— within 2 hours—for women, this occurs after about 4 or more drinks, and for men, after about 5 or more drinks. Young people are at a high risk for binge drinking because when they drink, they drink to get drunk. (NIAAA)
Drinking this way can pose health and safety risks for youth because it:
- Affects your ability to make smart, safe decisions
- Increases your risk for violence and injury, including car crashes
- Increases your risk for alcohol poisoning
- Affects memory, learning abilities, and brain development
Over time, it puts you at a high risk for health problems—such as depression and anxiety, liver and organ damage and alcohol abuse.
With binge drinking, the depressant (or dumbing) effects of alcohol can overwhelm the body’s defenses. Unable to move and think clearly, you can do stupid, risky and reckless things that are unsafe, or even lethal.
Statistics show that more teens are killed by alcohol than by all illegal drugs combined. Alcohol contributes to the three leading causes of death among 12 to 20-year-olds, car crashes, murder, and suicide (NIDA for teens)
Alcohol poisoning is the most life-threatening consequence of binge drinking. When someone drinks too much and gets alcohol poisoning, it affects the body’s involuntary reflexes — including breathing and the gag reflex. If the gag reflex isn’t working properly, a person can choke to death on his or her vomit.
Other signs someone may have alcohol poisoning include:
- extreme confusion
- inability to be awakened
- slow or irregular breathing
- low body temperature
- bluish or pale skin
If you think someone has alcohol poisoning, call 911 immediately.