Yesterday while I was out running I decided to dedicate the coming month to getter smarter about alcohol and alcoholism. I realised that I am virtually an ignorant idiot when it comes to alcoholism, which is probably somewhat ironic considering how much time I have spent thinking about precisely that.
For the first day in school I have looked into binge drinking because that is where I started a little over a month ago. On 18 August I woke up with a thunderous hangover and an overwhelming sense of guilt and anxiety. The first thing I did was to google alcohol+depression and came across a number of sites that described my experience as classic binge-drinking. I went straight ahead and set up this blog and have been complaining about everything ever since. But I never really bothered to go back and figure out what binge drinking actually is. But that changes today!
So, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (whatever that might be…), binge drinking is defined as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 grams percent or above. That literally makes no sense to me. But they also say that this level of blood alcohol concentration is reached when men consume 5 or more drinks or women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours. Right! I got that one!
When I think about my drinking pattern when I am at a party, I rarely drink 5 drinks in 2 hours but over the course of an entire night I will probably consume at least 10 and maybe even 15 drinks. I think. How many hours might an average party last? Probably from around 19:00 and then I pass out around 2 in the morning. So that’s seven hours for 15 drinks. That’s almost but not quite at the level indicated by CDS (I don’t actually know if they use this acronym).
They also say that binge drinking is the most commen and deadly pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States and it is twice as prevalent among men than among woman. That’s not really surprising, I think. I found a study on binge drinking in Europe that said that 25 million Europeans (1 in 15) have been binge drinking during the last month with Denmark being the heaviest binge drinking nation. That is also not surprising.
I was also trying to figure out whether binge drinking should be considered as a form of alcoholism. The website Addiction.com has a helpful definition, I think (again, I have no clue whether that website is made by some lonely alcoholic sitting in a basement or whether it is an actual institution with adults doing real research ). Anyway, they say that while binge drinkers may use alcohol to relieve stress or to gete over social anxiety, they are usually not alcohol-dependent. Ohh! That sounds interesting. A binge drinker is not alcohol-dependent but uses alcohol to deal with anxiety and stress. I feel so much at home with the goodl people at addiction.com! And then they suggest to use the notion of ‘alcohol-dependent’ instead of alcohol because a lot of binge drinkers may be showing signs of psychological dependence on alcohol but their bodies do function without alcohol in the bloodstream. And, equally interesting, they can go for months without binging!
Thus ends the first day in school. It has been interesting and rewarding. And I like the people at addition.com. Tomorrow I think I will look more into the effects of binge drinking.