Binge Drinking and Heavy Drinking
Binge drinking is excessive drinking that is defined as 5 or more drinks in 2 hours for a man and 4 or more drinks for a woman. Most people who are binge drinkers are not identified as alcohol dependent. One in 6 US adults report binge drinking approximately 4 times each month, and binge drinking occurs most commonly among adults aged 18-34. Binge drinking can lead to numerous health problems, including alcohol poisoning, car accidents, violence, sexually transmitted diseases, cancer (including breast, mouth, liver, and colon), and memory and learning problems.
Pregnant Women and Alcohol
Alcohol can present various dangers during pregnancy, and there is no known level of use that is considered safe. All types of alcohol are dangerous. Drinking while pregnant is dangerous because the alcohol is passed on to the baby and can cause miscarriage; stillbirth; and numerous physical, behavioral, and intellectual development issues, including low body weight, poor coordination, hyperactive behavior, poor memory, learning disabilities, poor judgment skills, visions or hearing problems.16
Teen Alcohol Use
Many teenagers misuse alcohol due to the accessibility of the substance and peer pressure. In fact, alcohol tops the list of drugs used by teenagers, per the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In fact, more than 8% of 8th graders, 18% of 10th graders, and 30% of 12th graders were current alcohol drinkers in 2018.11 Teenagers who misuse alcohol may exhibit signs including low energy, having alcohol paraphernalia, concentration problems, problems with coordination, mood swings, changing social circles, declining academic performance, behavioral issues/rebelling, smelling of alcohol.12,13
Teens who use alcohol are at an increased risk in a number of ways. Teens who drink may be sexually active and participate in unprotected sex more often than teens who do not consume alcohol.13 These teens are also at an increased risk of becoming a victim of rape or assault. They may also get injured or die in car crashes involving alcohol.13 Not only can alcohol abuse alter how a teen acts, it can also have adverse effects on the adolescent brain. Studies show that brain development continues past the teenage years. Alcohol abuse during the brain’s formative years can negatively impact how the brain develops and can also lead to learning problems and increase the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder in the future.12