Defining Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is defined as alcohol consumption in a pattern which involves consuming very large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as consuming four or more drinks in women and five or more drinks in men within two hours.

Binge drinking can be dangerous, both in the short term and the long term – find out more about the risks of binge drinking below.


What Are the Risks of Binge Drinking?

There are many risks of binge drinking. Below, we will go over the main risks involved when an excessive amount of alcohol has been consumed in a short space of time:


Accidents and Injuries

Binge drinking can lead to accidents and injuries for a number of reasons. Alcohol can impair coordination, balance, and judgment, making it more likely that people will fall or trip. Alcohol can also make people more likely to take part in certain risky behaviours, such as driving under the influence or fighting.

Common accidents and injuries associated with binge drinking include car accidents, falls, burns, head injuries and sexual assault.


Impaired Judgment

Alcohol can impair judgment, making it less likely for people to make good decisions. This can lead to a number of problems, such as:

  • Engaging in risky sexual behaviours
  • Getting into fights
  • Spending too much money
  • Driving under the influence


Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol poisoning is a medical emergency and this emergency occurs when the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) rises to dangerous levels. Symptoms of alcohol poisoning can include confusion, difficulty speaking, vomiting, slowed breathing and a loss of consciousness.

Alcohol poisoning can be fatal, so it is important to seek medical attention immediately if you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms.


Other Short-Term Physical Effects

Not only is binge drinking risky for decision-making and accidents, but it can also cause a number of side effects. Other short-term physical effects of binge drinking can include headache, nausea, diarrhoea, fatigue, dehydration, tremors, rapid heart rate and increased blood pressure

It is important to note that the severity of short-term physical effects of binge drinking can differ according to certain factors, such as the amount of alcohol consumed, the person’s age, weight, and gender.


The Long-Term Effects of Binge Drinking

Binge drinking can also have a range of negative long-term effects on both the physical and mental health of the person in question, highlighting how risky binge drinking can be.

Physical Health Effects

Long-term physical health effects of binge drinking can include:

  • Liver disease, including cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Heart disease, including stroke and heart attack
  • Cancer of the breast, colon, rectum, mouth, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus
  • Pancreatitis
  • Neurological damage, including cognitive impairment, dementia, and seizures
  • Weakened immune system
  • Digestive and reproductive problems

Mental Health Effects

Long-term mental health effects of binge drinking can include:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
  • Cognitive impairment, including memory problems, difficulty concentrating, and poor decision-making
  • Social problems, including relationship problems and job loss

Other Long-Term Effects

Binge drinking can lead to several other long-term effects, such as: financial and legal problems, increased risk of accidents and injuries, and a decreased quality of life.


The Impact of Binge Drinking on Mental Health

Binge drinking can result in various negative psychological implications, including alcohol addiction, depression, and other mental health disorders.


How Binge Drinking Affects Mental Health

Binge drinking can affect mental health in a number of ways. One way is by disrupting the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters carry chemicals in the brain which move messages between brain cells. Alcohol can affect the production and release of neurotransmitters, including ones like dopamine and serotonin, which play a role in mood regulation.

Another way that binge drinking can affect mental health is by damaging the brain. Alcohol can kill brain cells and shrink the hippocampus, a part of the brain that is involved in memory and learning. This damage can lead to issues with memory, concentration, and decision-making.

Binge drinking can also lead to social isolation and relationship problems. People who binge drink may avoid social situations because they are embarrassed by their drinking or because they are afraid of losing control. They may also withdraw from their loved ones because they are feeling guilty or ashamed. It can also result in the following:



Binge drinking can also result in alcohol use disorder (AUD), a chronic disease characterized by difficulty controlling alcohol use. People with AUD may experience cravings for alcohol, even when they know it is causing problems in their lives. They may also develop a tolerance to alcohol. This means that they will need to drink more and more alcohol to achieve the same desired effects, and alcohol use disorder treatment is typically required to treat it.



Binge drinking can also lead to depression. Alcohol is a depressant, which means that it slows down the central nervous system. This can lead to some negative feelings such as sadness, hopelessness, and despair. Binge drinking can also disrupt sleep patterns, which can worsen depression symptoms.


Other Mental Health Disorders

One of the main risks of binge drinking is bad mental health, as binge drinking has also been linked to some other mental health disorders. Some examples include anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and bipolar disorder. Alcohol can worsen symptoms of these disorders and make it more difficult to manage them.


How to Reduce the Risk of Long-Term Effects of Binge Drinking

The best way to reduce the risk of long-term effects of binge drinking is to avoid binge drinking altogether. If you do drink alcohol, it is important to do so in moderation.

If you are struggling to control your drinking, there are resources available to help. You can speak to your doctor, get in touch with a mental health professional, or speak to a substance abuse counsellor. There are also many support groups available for people who are struggling with binge drinking or alcohol use disorder (AUD).


Get Help For Binge Drinking

Nova Recovery is committed to guiding and supporting individuals who are confronting challenges related to binge drinking. If you are interested in finding out more about how we can help you, get in touch today, and our friendly advisors will guide you through the process. The sooner you get in touch with us, the easier it will be to overcome, and the less damage will be caused. So, don’t delay and give us a call today.

Back to all posts

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: October 27, 2023

John has travelled extensively around the world, culminating in 19 years’ experience looking at different models. He is the European pioneer of NAD+ (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide) treatment to Europe in 2010; and recently back from the USA bringing state of the art Virtual Reality Relapse Prevention and stress reduction therapy. His passion extends to other metabolic disturbances and neurodegenerative diseases. The journey continues. In recent times, John has travelled to Russia to study and research into a new therapy photobiomudulation or systemic laser therapy working with NAD+ scientists and the very best of the medical professionals in the UK and the USA, together with Nadcell, Bionad Hospitals own select Doctors, nurses, dieticians and therapists. Johns’ passion continues to endeavour to bring to the UK and Europe new developments with NAD+ Therapy in preventive and restorative medicine and Wellness. In 2017 John Gillen was made a visiting Professor at the John Naisbitt university in Belgrade Serbia.