Binge drinking can be described as drinking heavily over a short period of time or drinking continuously over a number of days or weeks.
Binge drinking results in immediate and severe intoxication, and as well as health risks, this can lead people to take risks and put themselves in dangerous situations. Common effects of binge-drinking episodes are hangovers, headaches, loss of memory, nausea, shakiness and vomiting.
Is binge drinking harmful?
Binge drinking can be harmful for a number of reasons:
- It can be immediately and directly harmful to your health due to alcohol toxicity.
- It can expose you and others to risk of injury.
- The consequences of these can have long-lasting effects on both your health and well-being.
Long term effects
If someone drinks heavily over a long period of time, they can become physically and psychologically dependent upon alcohol. Their body gets used to functioning with alcohol present and drinking can become more important than other activities in their life. Over time, alcohol can damage parts of the body, including the brain and liver. There are also the risks of developing emotional problems, such as depression, and problems at school, work and with relationships.
Other consequences of binge drinking include unsafe sex practices and unwanted pregnancy, feeling shame or embarrassment about your behaviour, feeling vulnerable or out of control while intoxicated, car accidents, assaults and arguments, losing valuable personal items, financial losses through reckless spending on alcohol or having to take time off work or uni to recover from a binge.
There are a number of alcohol treatment options available in Australia. While abstinence may be a suitable treatment aim for some people, many programs recognise that for others this may not be possible or realistic. Most programs adopt strategies that have an overall aim of reducing the harms and risks related to the person's alcohol use.
Some treatment options include counselling, withdrawal (detoxification) and medication (pharmacotherapy). Residential and "out-patient" programs are available. Treatment is more effective if tailored to suit a person's circumstances, and usually involves a combination of methods.
Source of information: DrugInfo Clearinghouse - Australian Drug Foundation
Fact sheet about binge drinking by Reach Out!
An initiative of the Inspire Foundation, Reach Out! is a web based service that provides information, support and interactive features to help young people get through tough times. The attached link is to their information page regarding binge drinking.
Information page by Reach Out! about helping someone who is drunk
Reach Out! is an initiative of the Inspire Foundation. The aim of the service is to improve young people's mental health and well-being by providing support information and referrals. Their information page has tips for helping a friend who is drunk.
Alcohol fact sheet by Headspace
Youth friendly, community based health service for young people 12 - 25 and their families. A place where young people can receive help for a range of issues; health, education, work, mental health and drug and alcohol use. The fact sheet provided by Headspace details the effects of alcohol and tips on staying safe.
Facts about binge drinking by the DrugInfo Clearinghouse
DrugInfo Clearinghouse is a service provided by the Australian Drug Foundation. It functions as a drug prevention network providing information about alcohol, other drugs, and drug prevention. Their information pages about binge drinking are useful resources.
Don't lose your standards - a resource by The Department of Health
An alcohol information site has been developed by the Federal Department of Health. Their alcohol resources includes a wallet card for young people, explaining standard drinks and tips on low-risk drinking.
If you think your friend might have had too much to drink there are a number of things you can do to help, including:
- Staying with your friend and making sure they are ok.
- Quietly letting your friend know that they are probably drunk and suggesting to them it would be a good idea to stop drinking alcohol or to slow down, drink some water and eat something.
- Making sure your friend gets home OK - for example, by either hailing them a taxi for them, taking them home by car, public transport or by walking, or taking them back to your place.
- Letting someone at their house know they're really drunk and need to be monintored.
If your friend loses consciousness, it is important to get help straight away and call an ambulance.
Reference - Reach Out! website
alcohol.gov.au - Federal Department of Health
This alcohol information site has been developed by the Federal Department of Health. The site provides info and fact sheets about alcohol-related health issues and Australian Government policy.
DrugInfo Clearinghouse - Australian Drug Foundation
DrugInfo Clearinghouse is a service provided by the Australian Drug Foundation. It functions as a drug prevention network providing information about alcohol, other drugs, and drug prevention.
Family Drug Help
Family Drug Help is a service designed specifically to address the support and information needs of parents, family members and significant others of someone with problematic alcohol or drug use.
A community based service for people aged 12 - 25 and their families, Headspace provides help for issues including health, education, work, mental health and drug & alcohol use.
An initiative of the Inspire Foundation, Reach Out! is a web based service that provides information, support and interactive features to help young people get through tough times.