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Summer Activities And Binge Drinking

As summer approaches and the weather warms up, people head outside to enjoy the season with friends and family. Unfortunately, these get togethers, where alcohol is often consumed and large groups gather for hours at a time, can be the catalyst for the dangerous activity of binge drinking.

According to an article published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, alcohol consumption is considered high during the summer and is second only to the holiday season. The summer season moves into the top spot for the time of year when most heavy drinking occurs. Understanding the side effects and dangers of binge drinking is an important step in enjoying a safe and sober summer.

What Is Binge Drinking?

Binge drinking is the act of consuming a large amount of alcohol over a short period of time. To be classified as a binge, a man must consume 5 or more drinks and a woman must consume 4 or more drinks within 2 hours or less. Binge drinking is a common occurrence in the US with 1 out of 6 adults regularly binging and 25% making it a weekly habit. While binge drinking does not solely signify an addiction to alcohol, it can be a precursor to alcohol dependency in the future.

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Risks Of Drinking Alcohol In The Summer

The increased heat and common activities of summer can have deadly consequences when mixed with binge drinking.

Blacking Out

Binge drinking can often result in alcohol-induced blackouts; gaps in memory for events that occurred while under the influence of alcohol. While not inherently deadly, events that occur during these blackouts, such as driving under the influence (DUI) or partaking in risky behavior, can have life-altering consequences. A main danger of blacking out is the ability to perform everyday tasks such as talking, walking, and driving without remembering.

According to the US Department of Transportation, the 4th of July is one of the most dangerous holidays for this behavior, with statistics showing that 39% of fatal crashes involved alcohol.  The median age range of drunk drivers killed on this summer holiday (21 to 34) aligns with the age range most often connected to binge drinking (ages 18 to 34).

Dehydration And Heat Stroke

Enjoying the summer sun is an integral part of the season. Unfortunately, alcohol consumption and warmer temperatures create a dangerous mix of fluid loss, resulting in dehydration.

Many people feel they are staying hydrated when binge drinking solely based on the large amount of liquid they are ingesting (often more than normal). In reality, alcohol consumption gives a false sense of hydration while actually draining the body of liquid through increased urination. In hot temperatures, a loss of fluid is already occurring due to increased sweat, so this mix can quickly lead to dangerous levels of dehydration.

In its most extreme forms, dehydration can lead to heatstroke, a deadly condition where the body cannot properly cool itself. Heat stroke can be harder to identify while binge drinking, as it shares many of the same side-effects such as dizziness, disorientation, and lack of coordination.

Alcohol Poisoning

Another deadly outcome of summer binge drinking is alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning is caused when the amount of alcohol in the body reaches dangerous levels, which happens quickly as the body absorbs alcohol faster than other nutrients. Conversely, the body is unable to process alcohol very quickly and this increased amount can cause vital body systems, like temperature and breathing regulation, to shut down, ultimately resulting in death. On average, 2,200 people (6 people a day) die annually from alcohol poisoning in the US.

Long Term Effects

Aside from these dangerous conditions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emphasize how binge drinking can also have negative, long-term effects on one’s health including:

  • Liver disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart problems
  • Cancer
  • Learning and memory problems

Ways To Prevent Binge Drinking

Luckily, there are useful tips to help stay healthy and avoid drinking at summertime events.

  • Staying hydrated, particularly when outdoors and in warm temperatures.
  • Bringing a favorite mocktail or other non-alcoholic beverage to the event.
  • Planning on how to say no when offered a drink.
  • Getting involved with activities and conversations that don’t involve drinking.
  • Asking for support from friends and family.

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If you are struggling with an alcohol addiction and are ready for help, it may be time to explore your treatment options.

Don’t let the dangerous effects of binge drinking hamper your summer fun. If you would like to find out more about alcohol treatment and the options that are available to you, call a treatment provider today.

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