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Binge Drinking May Not Be What You Think

Sometimes we do things out of habit and we don’t really stop to think about it.” You’re at a celebration, having a great time. Three or four drinks are what everyone is having, no one seems drunk and the bar is open. Maybe you have five or more drinks into the evening, maybe more. You have a safe ride home with a ride service or designated driver, or maybe you feel able to drive yourself. What’s the harm? Is that binge drinking?

What is binge drinking?

You may be surprised to learn that the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism considers five or more drinks on a single occasion for men, and four or more drinks on a single occasion for women, binge drinking that puts people at risk for developing serious health problems.

Who binge drinks?

Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent. And, although college students commonly binge drink, 70% of binge drinking episodes involve adults age 26 years and older. The prevalence of binge drinking among men is twice the prevalence among women. 

What are the evidence-based outcomes of binge drinking that harm your health?

Short-Term Health Risks:

  • Injuries such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, drowning, burns
  • Violence, including homicide, suicide, sexual assault and intimate partner violence
  • Alcohol poisoning, a medical emergency that results from high blood alcohol levels
  • Risky sexual behaviors, including unprotected sex
  • Miscarriage and stillbirth or fetal alcohol spectrum disorders 

Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems.

Long-Term Health Risks:

  • High blood pressure, stroke, liver disease and digestive problems
  • Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat esophagus, liver and colon
  • Learning and memory problems
  • Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety
  • Social problems including lost productivity, family problems and unemployment
  • Alcohol dependence, or alcoholism 

Next time you drink, think about stopping at four drinks if you are a man, and stopping at three drinks if you are a woman. By not drinking too much, you can reduce these health risks. Protect yourself and others by drinking in moderation, feeling well and productive, and stay safe and healthy. If you are concerned about your drinking, or about a friend or family member, please give the EAP a call.

Try our free and anonymous user-friendly screening here to test how you are feeling. 

Adapted from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Department of Health & Human Services,

Why is Change So Hard?  What makes old habits so difficult to change? On this page you'll learn how making habits helps your brain. You'll also explore how this process makes changing habits difficult.


For more information or to discuss alcohol concerns please contact Partners Employee Assistance Program at 1-866-724-4EAP.

In case of emergency please call 911 or your local hospital emergency service.


This content was last modified on: 05/29/2019

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In case of emergency, please call 911 or your local hospital emergency service.

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