Binge drinking


Common to Anglo-Saxon countries, binge drinking is the excessive or occasional consumption of alcohol. The only objective is to get “drunk” in record time. This is very popular with youths, which leads to serious problems such as ethylic comas and all other alcohol-related issues.


Binge drinking is an addiction

Even though in most western countries we see a decrease in total alcohol consumption, today’s youth start drinking at a younger age and in different ways.[1] There’s no longer a need to drink every day to suffer from alcohol addiction. The most recent trend is to drink the most possible in a limited amount of time to test one’s limits. Thus, today’s youth play with alcohol. Binge drinking is very common at student parties, for example. It’s seen as a rite of passage to adulthood (the legal age allowing the purchase and consumption of alcohol) or an initiation to a group. Spring Breaks come to top of mind where alcohol-related issues (such as ethylic comas, violence, assault, etc.) are a daily occurrence.

Alcohol consumption is considered excessive when a man consumes more than 5 glasses, 4 for a woman, in a span of 2 hours. According to the American National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), alcohol consumption that is twice the mentioned threshold is considered extreme drinking. The problem is widespread in the United States, based on a report from 2012 stating that 1 in 6 adults, which is to say an estimated 38 million Americans, participate in binge drinking at least 4 times a month.[2] It is therefore evident that it is not sporadic, but rather a real addiction.

At Portage, many people have come asking for help as they would partake in extreme alcohol consumption. These people do not consume alcohol daily but engage in binge drinking, which prevents them from living a normal life. In fact, memory loss, hospitalization and a decrease in productivity gravely affects their physical and mental health. Portage helps them conquer their addiction and helps them lead a new healthy lifestyle (read:Being Sober Makes Me Unique!).

Costs and Consequences of Such Actions

Hyper alcohol consumption has big repercussions on society and those who partake in it. Binge drinking adepts put their health at risk. When we consume a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time, we are often confronted with fainting, vomiting as well as ethylic comas. After a blood alcohol concentration above 0.3 (knowing the legal limit to drive is 0.08) the risk of death increases while in a coma. Moreover, this results in social and health risks such as drunk driving, non-consensual or unsafe sexual relations, STD transmissions and violence, which are frequent after excessive alcohol consumption (read:The Short and Long-term Effects of Alcohol Consumption).

This said, problematic alcohol consumption has a price on society. In Canada, Health Canada evaluated the expenses linked to alcohol consumption in a report in 2014, using data dating from 2002, they concluded that alcohol abuse resulted in an expense of 14.6 billion dollars. The loss of productivity linked to alcohol is estimated at 7.1 billion dollars, 3.3 billion dollars in health care, 3.1 billion dollars to enforce the law and 757 million dollars in damages caused by traffic accidents. In 2011, expenses linked to alcohol increased to 20 billion dollars.

All the dangers and issues related to abusive consumption of alcohol have a great societal impact and cost. Binge drinking is therefore dangerous for today’s youth but also society in general.


[1] Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale (or in English, French National Institute of Health and Medical Research)


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