Binge drinking is a widespread practice among young people, especially college students. One definition of binge drinking is for males, having five or more standard drinks during any one drinking session. For females, it's four or more drinks per session.
The reality is, many college students and young adults drink a lot more than that.
The problem, especially for young drinkers, is that drinking at that level can cause a long list of physical and cognitive problems and increase your risk of becoming a victim of injury, violence or sexual assault.
Therefore, if you decide to quit the practice of binge drinking, there are many immediate and long-term advantages. Cutting down the amount you drink during a drinking session can greatly reduce your risk of harm.
Here are some of the advantages if you stop binge drinking:
Binge drinkers have been found to have problems with verbal learning skills. If you are a student - male or female - binge drinking can stand in your way of academic success. Visual learning skills are usually not affected by binge drinking, but you may find your ability to learn new verbal information improves if you cut down on the number of drinks you have.
If you started binge drinking early in life - before age 15 - it's possible that your decision-making skills have been affected. In fact, research shows that young binge drinkers have about the same decision-making problems as chronic alcoholics. If you quit binge drinking, chances are those skills will begin to improve immediately.
High-resolution images of the brain have revealed that binge drinking causes some visible, physical changes to the brain. The more drinks you have the more your pre-frontal cortex is thinned. If you stop binge drinking you may find that your ability to pay attention, plan, make decisions, process emotions and control your impulses will improve.
Binge drinkers, especially young drinkers, have been found by researchers to develop problems with attention and memory. Cut down on your drinking and you may find that you will be able to better distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information, complete tasks more efficiently, spend less effort trying to pay attention and have less problem completing tasks.
Those who binge drink are much more likely participate in risky sexual behavior and therefore increase their risks for sexually-related problems. If you avoid binge drinking you can greatly reduce your risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease, having an unwanted pregnancy or being sexually assaulted.
Research has found that binge drinkers report less-positive moods than non-binge drinkers. Binge drinking is associated with negative and depressive moods. If you reduce your binge-drinking or quit altogether, you may find that you will be less anxious and depressed. If you are female, you may also find that your ability to perform working memory tasks may also improve.
Studies have shown that binge drinking can increase aggression and violence by the drinkers, but remarkably, research has also shown that binge drinking can increase the chance of young drinkers become the victim of violence, whether or not they are violent themselves. Quitting binge drinking can reduce the violence in your life.
If you stop binge drinking you can drastically reduce your risk of being injured. A large-scale study of emergency room patients revealed that young binge drinkers were more likely to be injured than even long-term, heavy-drinking alcoholics. All drinkers have an increased risk of injury, but binge drinkers are at the greatest risk.
Binge drinkers, especially young binge drinkers, face a greater risk of developing metabolic health risks. If you stop your binge drinking episodes, you can reduce your risk of developing metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors for developing heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
If you stop binge drinking, not only will you save money on alcohol purchases, but research shows that in the long run you will miss less days of work, pay less for healthcare costs, pay fewer fines and fees, have fewer arrests and accidents, pay less for insurance and be more likely to keep your job, compared to those who continue to binge drink. Sources:
Crego, A. et al. "Binge Drinking Affects Attentional and Visual Working Memory Processing in Young University Students." Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Published Online: 10 Aug 2009.
Fan, AZ, et al. "Association of Lifetime Alcohol Drinking Trajectories with Cardiometabolic Risk" Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. January 2008.
French, MT, et al, "Easing The Pain of an Economic Downturn: Macroeconomic Conditions and Excessive Alcohol Consumption." Health Economics 12 September 2011.
Gmel G., et al., "Alcohol-attributable injuries in admissions to a Swiss emergency room--an analysis of the link between volume of drinking, drinking patterns and pre-attendance drinking" Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research January 2005.
Goudriaan, A. E., et. al. "Decision Making and Binge Drinking: A Longitudinal Study" Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research June 2007.
Hutton, H.E., et al. "The Relationship between Recent Alcohol Use and Sexual Behaviors: Gender Differences Among STD Clinic Patients." Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research November 2008.
McQueeny, T. "Possible Brain Damage in Young Adult Binge-Drinkers. Presented at the 34th annual meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism. June 2011.
Shepherd, J.P., et al, "Relations between alcohol, violence and victimization in adolescence." Journal of Adolescence. August 2006.