10 Reasons to Stop Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is a widespread practice among young people, especially younger adults aged 18 to 34 years, but more than half of the total binge drinks are consumed by those aged 35 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For males, binge drinking is defined as having five or more standard drinks during any one drinking session. For females, it's four or more drinks per session.

The reality is, many college students and young adults drink a lot more than that. The problem, especially for young drinkers, is that drinking at that level can cause a long list of physical and cognitive problems and increase your risk of becoming a victim of injury, violence, or sexual assault.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

If you decide to quit the practice of binge drinking, there are many immediate and long-term advantages. Cutting down the amount you drink during a drinking session can greatly reduce your risk of harm.

Here are some of the advantages if you stop binge drinking.

Improve Your Verbal Learning Skills

If you are a student—male or female—binge drinking can stand in your way of academic success for a multitude of reasons, including being too hungover to attend morning classes and problems with next-day learning after going on a binge.

For example, binge drinkers have been found to have problems with verbal learning skills. You may even find your ability to learn new verbal information improves if you cut down on the number of drinks you have.

Make Better Decisions Quicker

If you started binge drinking early in life (before age 15), it's possible that your decision-making skills have been affected.

In fact, research shows that young binge drinkers have about the same decision-making problems as chronic alcoholics. If you quit binge drinking, chances are those skills will begin to improve immediately.

Reverse Brain Damage

High-resolution images of the brain have revealed that binge drinking causes some visible, physical changes to the brain. The more drinks you have the more your pre-frontal cortex is thinned, impacting cognitive, emotional, and social functioning.

If you stop binge drinking you may find that your ability to pay attention, plan, make decisions, process emotions, and control your impulses will improve.

Improve Your Attention and Memory

Binge drinkers, especially young drinkers, have been found by researchers to develop problems with attention and memory. Specifically, binge drinking among young people is linked with a thinning or reduction of areas of the brain that play a key role in the following: 

  • Memory
  • Attention
  • Language
  • Awareness
  • Consciousness

Cut down on your drinking and you may find that you will be able to better distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information, complete tasks more efficiently, spend less effort trying to pay attention, and have less problem completing tasks.

Reduce Your Risk of Sexual Assault

Those who binge drink are much more likely to participate in risky sexual behavior, including not using condoms, and therefore increase their risks for sexually-related problems.

If you avoid binge drinking you can greatly reduce your risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease, having an unwanted pregnancy, or being sexually assaulted.

Improve Your Mood and Cognitive Performance

Research has found that binge drinkers report less-positive moods than non-binge drinkers. Binge drinking is associated with negative and depressive moods.

If you reduce your binge-drinking or quit altogether, you may find that you will be less anxious and depressed. If you are female, you may also find that your ability to perform working memory tasks may also improve.

Reduce Your Risk of Violence

Studies have shown that binge drinking can increase aggression and violence by the drinkers, but remarkably, research has also shown that binge drinking can increase the chance of young drinkers becoming the victim of violence, whether or not they are violent themselves. Quitting binge drinking can reduce violence in your life, including:

  • Homicide
  • Suicide
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Sexual assault

Lower Your Risk of Injury

If you stop binge drinking you can drastically reduce your risk of being injured. A large-scale study of emergency room patients revealed that young binge drinkers were more likely to be injured than even long-term, heavy-drinking alcoholics.

All drinkers have an increased risk of injury, but binge drinkers are at the greatest risk, including:

  • Car crashes
  • Falls
  • Burns
  • Alcohol poisoning

Reduce Your Health Risks

Binge drinkers, especially young binge drinkers, face a greater risk of developing metabolic health risks. If you stop your binge drinking episodes, you can reduce your risk of developing metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors for developing heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.

Other health risks linked to binge drinking include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Liver disease
  • Cancer (breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon)

Keep More of Your Money

If you stop binge drinking, not only will you save money on alcohol purchases, but in the long run you will miss fewer days of work, pay less for healthcare costs, pay fewer fines and fees, have fewer arrests and accidents, pay less for insurance and be more likely to keep your job, compared to those who continue to binge drink.

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