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Binge Drinking (a form of alcohol abuse)

Q: I’ve often heard about youths who binge drink when they go clubbing. What is “binge-drinking” and how different is it from alcohol addiction?

Binge drinking (a form of alcohol abuse) is defined as the consumption of alcohol to intoxication in a short period of time. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV-TR, alcohol abusers drink despite recurrent social, interpersonal, or legal problems as a result of alcohol use. Some examples of such problems include sustaining injuries while driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, or failure to attend to important responsibilities at work, home or school. Generally, there are two types of binge drinking:

i) Heavy drinking (five or more drinks) on a single occasion; and

ii) Heavy or continuous drinking over a number of days or weeks

Over time, binge drinking may progress to alcohol addiction (or dependence) where the problem drinkers need to consume increasing amounts of alcohol in order to get the same “high”. They may also experience withdrawal symptoms and a loss of control over their drinking.

Binge Drinking

Q: What are the short and long-term consequences of binge drinking?

It is a common myth among young drinkers that one night of heavy drinking will not do them any harm. On the contrary, they are in fact putting themselves at risk of:

          Getting involved in accidents, fights or arguments
          Missing work or appointments
          Having poor concentration, which can affect school or work performance
          Passing out
          Engaging in unsafe sex, which may lead to unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases

Some of the long-term effects of binge drinking include liver damage, stomach ulcers, sexual and weight problems, depression, and physical and psychological dependence on alcohol. Research has shown that adolescence binge drinking may lead to negative legacy on psychological development as the brain is still rapidly developing. Those affected may have difficulties in making sound judgement and plan for the future, resulting in them making riskier and less advantageous choices.

Q: How and where can I get help to kick alcohol addiction? How can family members help?

Both those who are struggling to control their alcohol intake and their family members can call the NAMS All Addictions Helpline at 6-RECOVER (6-7326837) to speak to trained NAMS counsellors on a confidential basis for advice on alcohol addiction or binge drinking. They may also visit the NAMS website at http://www.nams.sg.

Related Brochures:

Relapse PreventionManaging Addictions

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