The reality is, everyone under-estimates the amount of alcohol consumption that constitutes binge drinking.
Binge drinking is where a large amount of alcohol is consumed in a short space of time, which can cause you to get drunk quickly. While there is no “safe” level of alcohol consumption, binge drinking can cause even more health problems and put people in immediate danger.
Binge drinking is defined as six or more standard drinks in one session, which is the equivalent of three or more pints of beer or six or more pub measures of spirits.
Young people can be particularly at risk of binge drinking. For example, “pre-drinking” before going out for a night can really rack up the amount of standard drinks consumed. Sometimes the binge drinking limit has been passed before we even leave home. A naggin of vodka contains more than six standard drinks; a bottle of wine has eight.
Binge Drinking: where’s the harm?
Binge drinking and getting drunk do not just pose a greater threat to our physical and mental health, they also impact our judgement and decision-making. This makes us more likely to take risks, which can lead to accidents, fights and injuries, and more vulnerable to being exploited by others too.
We have very high levels of binge drinking in Ireland and this can make it difficult for young people to recognise it as harmful behaviour. If it seems like a lot of people are doing it, it can make it appear more acceptable or even safe, despite the damage it causes.
Blackouts – being unable to remember parts of what happened during a night – are a real sign that we are drinking far too much. They occur because high levels of alcohol in our brain interfere with its natural filing system. The next day, you are not able retrieve these memories and this is why it’s called a blackout. This memory loss happens because alcohol changes brain cells and can affect your ability to form new memories.
This can be especially significant for young people who are studying, as it can impair their ability to take in, understand and remember new information on a daily basis. They are also at risk during the blackout, when they are “not themselves”. They may do something stupid or embarrassing or really dangerous.