Alcohol advertisers depict their products as being used around friends, family, and otherwise enjoyable environments. Then, they caution that alcohol should be used responsibly. Unfortunately, drinking alcohol can lead to cognitive changes which result in poor decisions and less than responsible behavior.
Recreational drinkers often recover from the effects of drinking with little to no long-term problems, but what about binge drinkers? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately one out of six adults in the U.S. binge drinks four times each month. Studies now show that this regular drinking to excess could have serious health consequences.
How Does Binge Drinking Affect the Brain?
First, what is binge drinking? If you consume enough alcohol that your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) rises to 0.08 or higher, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) would define this as binge drinking. This generally happens when a male consumes five more drinks in two hours, or a female consumes four or more drinks in two hours.
Studies on binge drinking effects to date are not encouraging. Some have shown that those who binge drink perform worse on cognitive tasks than those who do not. Researchers from the University of Minho in Portugal just published the results of their study in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Science. The study focused on 80 university students, split into two groups: those who did not binge drink and those who had at least once in the past month. Researchers found that there was a measurable difference in the parahippocampal gyrus, the area of the brain that is believed to play a key role in coding and retrieving memories. Of note, the changes in this area mirror those changes found in the brains of chronic alcoholics.
The Dangers of Binge Drinking
While none of the study’s participant’s met the criteria for alcohol use syndrome yet, they were all young adults with the potential for alcohol abuse in their future. In fact, binge drinking is most common among adults ages 18-34. In addition to the cognitive changes, there are other real health dangers associated with binge drinking. Among those are alcohol poisoning and unintentional injuries. Binge drinkers are more likely to be involved in car crashes, falls, and other serious accidents. Binge drinking may also lead to violent encounters, sexually transmitted diseases, and other serious health issues. Finally, enough binge drinking will likely spawn alcohol addiction, which requires treatment and support.
Getting Help for Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol addiction is a medical disorder that can affect anyone, regardless of age, sex, or background. Not only is alcohol a highly addictive substance, but its effects can also be incredibly harmful and dangerous. The good news is that certain types of cognitive impairment that many alcoholics experience due to drinking can be reversed through total abstinence. If you or any of your loved ones suffer from alcohol addiction, The Recovery Village offers personalized and comprehensive alcohol treatment programs. These include medical detox, inpatient and outpatient treatment, dual diagnosis treatment, and aftercare planning. Contact us now to speak with one of our addiction intake specialists about treatment options.