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March 1, 2022

Am I Binge Drinking?

Plain and simple, binge drinking by definition is the excessive consumption of alcohol in one sitting. Usually with the intent to get drunk or feel wasted.

Let’s break that down a little; in Canada, a standard drink contains 13.6 grams of pure alcohol. That is a 12-ounce bottle of 5% beer, 5 ounces of 12% table wine, or 1.5 ounces of 40% spirits or liquor.

Binge drinking is typically the act of drinking 4-5 or more drinks in one sitting (studies show 4 for female and 5 for male). Let's also define "one sitting" as 2 hours and you need to do this at least once a month.

At its core, binge drinking is the heavy use of alcohol, usually consumed with the intent to get drunk.

Now let's break it down even further to help you better understand what it is, and how to recognize it.


Who’s at Risk?

While there are a number of factors at play for those who binge drink, the stats don't lie about the staggering drinking habits at Canadian college and university campuses.

The 2004 Canadian Campus Survey identified that alcohol was used by 77.1% of students in one month. Going deeper, 27.8% of students reported heavy drinking patterns. 16.1% reported consuming more than five drinks daily, while also showing that men reported heavier instances of extreme alcohol use.

The Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Survey reported that youth aged 15 - 24 reported the highest rates of heavy drinking; Alcohol use reported was 70% (there was a 12.9% decrease from 2004 report).

Now in 2020, with the COVID-19 Pandemic, we have seen an increase in alcohol use at home. Some say this is due to stockpiling, more socially-distanced gatherings among neighbours or pod-friends and stress. But we still do not have any final research yet.



Signs and Symptoms of Binge Drinking

Most of us aren’t sitting at the bar with our friends counting how many drinks they are having. After all, we can’t be with them every second. But if you do suspect your friend may be a binge drinker, here are some of the signs to watch out for:

1. Binge drinking isn't necessarily a daily occurrence.

  • Someone does not have to drink every day to be classified as a binge drinker
  • Know that even if you only drink once a week but have excessive intent, this could be classified as a binge drinker
  • Just because they save it all up for a Thursday night out doesn’t mean binge drinking is off the table

2. They cannot stick to their limits - or they do not choose to.

  • Most of us have a pretty good idea of what our own alcohol tolerance is. A binge drinker is someone who doesn’t know when to stop drinking, or decides not to.

3. They don’t remember their night.

  • Frequent instances of blackouts is a clear sign that someone is overindulging and reflects binge drinking. Getting a buzz going is one thing but forgetting entire portions of a night is another.


 Short Term Effects of Binge Drinking

Large doses of alcohol over a short period of time can have a variety of physical effects on someone’s body. Slurred speech, double vision, staggered movements, and a general stupor can all be signs that someone has had too much to drink.

It always bears repeating: the use of alcohol can impair your ability to drive. This can be true even if you are not displaying any of the symptoms above.


Long Term Effects of Binge Drinking

Regular consumption of more than 2 drinks per day can take a gradual toll on your body. For example, physically, it can: damage vital organs, produce stomach ulcers, reveal vitamin deficiencies, and lead to infertility.

Long term binge drinking can also have negative impact on someone's personal and school life.

If you are concerned about a friend or roommate, it may be time to seek help. Here are some of the organizations that can help you make a plan:


Want to help others recognize the signs and symptoms of binge drinking? Share this and help ensure that when it comes to drinking, we have all the facts.

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