Those of us in the drug and alcohol recovery community are trained to look for certain signs when evaluating the seriousness of a substance abuse problem. For example, we look for signs of binge drinking and drug use. A student who frequently binges may very well be on the road to full-blown addiction in the very near future. Without intervention, the outcome could be devastating.
According to the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) Statistics on Alcohol: England 2014 report, as many as 33.8% of men and 15.7% of women in England are classified by the AUDIT standards as hazardous drinkers. Among them, 5.8% of men and 1.9% of women are considered harmful drinkers. Whether an adult is considered a hazardous or harmful drinker is not as important as the fact that the individual drinks too much either way.
A hazardous drinker is a person who occasionally exceeds recommended alcohol consumption limits. A harmful drinker is someone who drinks too much, too often. You can certainly make the case that a binge drinker is also a hazardous drinker at the same time. And of course, this applies to drug use as well.
What Binging Looks Like
What exactly does binging look like? Imagine a young adult male student who remains largely free of alcohol and drugs during the school week. However, every Friday afternoon he starts drinking and using without any regard for self-control. He essentially spends the entire weekend drunk, stoned or both, only returning to sobriety when forced to do so on Monday morning. If you can imagine that, you have a good picture of what it means to binge.
Binging is simply the exercise of consuming excessive amounts of alcohol or drugs over an extended amount of time. Two or three days is typically enough to be considered binging.
The next question to be asked is one of when binging becomes a serious problem. Some drug and alcohol experts say that all binging is a problem. Others maintain binging once or twice per year is relatively harmless. We would suggest that it is better just to avoid binging altogether. Avoiding binging automatically eliminates all of the problems associated with it.
Dangers of Binging
Every time a student uses drugs or alcohol, the chemical substances he or she is ingesting have a very definite impact on brain function. The impaired brain function is what triggers, in part, dependence issues. Binging only increases the risk alcohol or drug dependence through prolonged periods of altered brain activity. Think of it in terms of the common cold virus.
Whenever you are exposed to the virus, you run the risk of catching a cold. Your chances of getting sick are greater if you are exposed to the cold virus for three days, as opposed to a mere 30 minutes. The greater the exposure, the greater the risk. Binge drinking and drug use work the same way. The more often you do it, the greater your chances of developing an addiction.
No good can come from binge drinking and drug use. Addiction Helper urges you to avoid binging altogether. If you need help in doing so, enlist family members or friends who are willing to hold you accountable for your alcohol and drug habits. You might also consider professional counselling if accountability alone does not keep you from binging.
If you find you already have a drink or drug problem you believe is out of control, we invite you to call our 24-hour helpline. Our counsellors are ready to provide free, confidential advice and treatment referrals. Inform yourself about students and addiction problems from our student addiction guide.