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Binge Drinking is very common in South Africa. Most people don’t understand what it is or why it is dangerous for your health.
Binge Drinking is when you consume a large amount of alcohol in a short period. General guidelines say it is the equivalent of 8 units of alcohol a night for me and 6 Units of alcohol a night for women. Please remember that 1 unit of alcohol does not equal 1 Drink.
If you read this previous infographic on this blog, you will see that is the equivalent of about five beers for men ( 5*330ml) or two big glasses(South African serving) of wine ( 2* 250ml). Another way to look at it is when you drink more than six drinks in two hrs for males or four drinks over two hrs in females.
What are the dangers of binge drinking?
There are the obvious dangers such as drunk driving causing accidents, doing impulsive things, aggression, falling leading to serious injury or promiscuous behaviour.
Binge Drinking can lead to blackouts and coma and death. Death can be caused by your breathing system or cardiac system shutting down or by breathing in vomit induced by excessive alcohol use. Liver disease and long-term brain damage, vitamin deficiency and dementia are some of the consequences of frequent heavy drinking. Binge drinking often increases anxiety levels and mood states for a few days while you recover from the binge. It can worsen and cause depression or mania. Promiscuous behaviour can result in contracting STDs such as HIV and pregnancy.
Most patients I have spoken to have regretted events or things they said while they were binge drinking.
What is a blackout?
A blackout occurs when the level of alcohol in your blood is so high that it affects the area involved in remembering events and storing memory. It can result in a fragmented blackout or a total blackout for a longer period. Those memories will not come back since they were never ‘coded’ into the brain. It is frightening to think what might happen to you or others around you when you are a state of extreme intoxication. It is also frightening to think that you may not remember what happened and that you were completely out of control during that time. Anyone can have a blackout when their alcohol levels are at this toxic level.Most patients I have spoken to have regretted events or things they said while they were binge drinking.
If you are concerned about your own drinking or a friend or family member drinking habits please visit this website which has a large amount of information on Alcohol.
Previous Posts on Alcohol Use