What is Binge Drinking?

Researchers define binge drinking as having many drinks on one occasion: five or more drinks for a male, or four or more drinks for a female. A standard drink is defined as:

Illustration of the alcohol content found in popular beverages.

Young people who binge drink are especially at risk. This is because they are less familiar with the effects of alcohol, and are more likely to do something impulsive/dangerous.

When you binge drink, you get intoxicated, or drunk. This is because you drink faster than your body can eliminate the alcohol. It takes more than an hour for your body to process one standard drink of alcohol. This rate is constant, no matter how much you drink. The only way to get sober is to stop drinking, and to wait.

Alcohol poisoning, caused by too much alcohol, is extremely dangerous and can cause coma and death. Signs include:

  • disorientation or confusion
  • passing out, not being able to be woken up
  • slow, irregular breathing
  • bluish or pale, cold, clammy skin
  • vomiting while passed out.

When someone is passed out from alcohol poisoning:

  • gently roll the person on their side, tilting the head back and tucking the top hand under the chin to keep the mouth open and the airway clear. This helps to reduce the risk of choking if the person vomits. Bend the person’s top leg and bottom arm to support this position
  • do not leave the person alone
  • call 911 if you cannot wake the person, especially if they are vomiting or have vomited.

If your drinking is causing problems in your life and you want to change, ask for help. Tell your friends and family members and ask them for their support. Ask them to help you organize activities that don’t involve drinking.

SOURCE: CAMH Partying and Getting Drunk (PDF)