Chet has known Dave since they were in elementary school together, but lately their friendship has been strained. Dave’s drinking on weekends has turned him into a completely different person. Dave used to get good grades and play sports, but since he started drinking he hasn’t been finishing assignments and he has quit the soccer team.
When Chet saw Dave pound five beers in 30 minutes at two different parties, he realized how serious Dave’s problem was. He knows what Dave is doing: binge drinking.
What Is Binge Drinking?
Binge drinking used to mean drinking heavily over several days. Now, however, the term refers to the heavy consumption of alcohol over a short period of time (just as binge eating means a specific period of uncontrolled overeating).
Today the generally accepted definition of binge drinking in the United States is the consumption of five or more drinks in a row by men — or four or more drinks in a row by women — at least once in the previous 2 weeks. Heavy binge drinking includes three or more such episodes in 2 weeks.
Why Do People Binge Drink?
Liquor stores, bars, and alcoholic beverage companies make drinking seem attractive and fun. It’s easy for a high school student to get caught up in a social scene with lots of peer pressure. Inevitably, one of the biggest areas of peer pressure is drinking.
Other reasons why people drink include:
- They’re curious — they want to know what it’s like to drink alcohol.
- They believe that it will make them feel good, not realizing it could just as easily make them sick and hung-over.
- They may look at alcohol as a way to reduce stress, even though it can end up creating more stress.
- They want to feel older.
What Are the Risks of Binge Drinking?
Many people don’t think about the negative side of drinking. Although they think about the possibility of getting drunk, they may not give much consideration to being hung-over or throwing up.
You may know from experience that excessive drinking can lead to difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, mood changes, and other problems that affect your day-to-day life. But binge drinking carries more serious and longer-lasting risks as well. 
Anyone who is binge drinking needs to seek help to find solutions for dealing with this issue. This could be through a school counselor or a professional therapist or a support group. Whatever the setting, the outcome should be finding healthy outlets for overwhelming feelings. It is difficult to deal with drinking by yourself and you don’t have to do it alone. If you, or someone you know, is struggling with binge drinking and you don’t know where to turn for help, you can always start by calling Safe2Tell™ at 1-877-542-7233 (SAFE).
For additional information on Binge Drinking, link to The Children’s Hospital website.
 The Children’s Hospital website, August 2006.