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Binge Drinking

Why Binge Drinking Even Once a Week Is Bad for Your Health: Stanley's Story

July 21, 2023
8 min read
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Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
July 21, 2023
8 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
July 21, 2023
8 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
July 21, 2023
8 min read
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Reframe Content Team
July 21, 2023
8 min read

Meet Stanley. He's a charismatic, sociable guy who loves a good Friday night out with his friends. For Stanley, these nights often involve binge drinking, which he sees as a harmless way to blow off steam after a long week of work. However, Stanley's story serves as a stark reminder of the potential harm weekly binge drinking can cause to your health. How much drinking is too much drinking? And is Stanley simply a heavy drinker? He might be wondering if he’s crossing the line into what is considered alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder (AUD). Let’s explore the details of the dangers heavy drinkers face, as well as how many drinks a week is “alcoholic” drinking.

1. Damage to the Liver

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Stanley began noticing a persistent discomfort in his abdomen. A visit to the doctor revealed that his liver was inflamed — a direct result of his weekly binge drinking. The liver, tasked with breaking down alcohol, struggles when overloaded. This can lead to liver inflammation and serious conditions like fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and even cirrhosis if given enough time. The liver's role in detoxifying the body is crucial, and when it's compromised, toxins can build up in the bloodstream, leading to further health complications.

2. Cardiovascular Problems

Stanley's doctor also warned him about the risk of cardiovascular problems. Binge drinking can cause high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and even heart attacks. Stanley was shocked to learn that his “fun” habit was putting unnecessary strain on his heart. His doctor told him how regular binge drinking can weaken the heart muscle, reducing its ability to pump blood efficiently, leading to a condition called alcoholic cardiomyopathy.

3. Neurological Damage

Stanley started noticing he was becoming forgetful. His doctor explained that alcohol disrupts the brain's communication pathways, affecting mood and behavior. Over time, this can lead to serious neurological damage, including memory loss and the inability to learn new things. Alcohol's neurotoxic effects can also increase the risk of developing dementia and other cognitive disorders later in life.

4. Mental Health Issues

Stanley always thought alcohol helped him relax. However, he started experiencing heightened feelings of stress and anxiety. He learned that while alcohol might provide short-term relief, it exacerbates these conditions in the long run. Alcohol is a depressant, and regular consumption can lead to a chemical imbalance in the brain, contributing to mental health disorders like depression and anxiety.

The Harmful Effects of  Weekly Binge Drinking

5. Increased Risk of Cancer

The risk of developing several types of cancer, including mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon, and breast cancer, increases with regular alcohol consumption. Stanley's doctor warned him that his binge drinking was significantly raising his cancer risk. Alcohol can damage the body's DNA and proteins, leading to abnormal cell growth and cancer.

6. Weight Gain and Nutritional Deficiencies

Stanley noticed he was gaining weight. Alcohol is high in calories and low in nutritional value — and regular binge drinking, as well as heavy drinking in general, can also interfere with the absorption of vital nutrients in our body, leading to deficiencies that can impact overall health. Alcohol can also disrupt our digestive system, preventing the body from properly absorbing nutrients from food.

7. Risky Behavior and Accidents

Stanley had his fair share of accidents and risky behavior due to impaired judgment from binge drinking. This included drunk driving and unprotected sex, increasing his risk of injury and other consequences. Alcohol impairs motor skills and decision-making abilities, leading to an increased likelihood of accidents and unnecessary risk-taking.

8. Alcohol Dependence

Stanley realized he was drinking more to achieve the same effects. Regular binge drinking can lead to alcohol dependence and addiction, creating a cycle that can be difficult to break without professional help. What is considered alcoholism? The road is different for everyone, and AUD has to be diagnosed by a professional, but for many the hallmark feature is dependence. Alcohol dependence can lead to withdrawal symptoms when not drinking, including tremors, hallucinations, and seizures.

A Wake-Up Call

Stanley's story can serve as a wake-up call for all of us. He decided to change his drinking habits and he sought help from professionals and support groups. He started setting clear, achievable goals for reducing his alcohol consumption. He also found it helpful to schedule alcohol-free weekends and to find alternative ways to relax and socialize without alcohol.

In addition, Stanley learned to recognize his triggers for drinking and he developed strategies to manage them. This included finding healthy ways to cope with stress, such as exercise and meditation, and learning how to say no to alcohol when he didn't really want it.

Stanley's journey underscores the serious health consequences of weekly binge drinking. It's crucial to understand these risks and manage your drinking habits. If you're struggling with binge drinking, consider seeking professional help or joining a support group. Remember, it's never too late to make positive changes for your health!

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At Reframe, we do science, not stigma. We base our articles on the latest peer-reviewed research in psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral science. We follow the Reframe Content Creation Guidelines, to ensure that we share accurate and actionable information with our readers. This aids them in making informed decisions on their wellness journey.
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