Look, if you’ve ever woken up with your third crippling hangover of the week, then you’ve probably given some thought (fleeting or otherwise) to the impact drinking – be it binge drinking or casual drinking – is having on your body. And hey, that’s fair enough. We’ve only got one of these things, so to intentionally cause it harm is pretty dumb.
As Australians, we’re practically conditioned to be frequent grog-consuming members of society. Hard work is rewarded with booze. No work is commiserated with booze. Pretty much all of our cultural cornerstones are booze-centric, which is incredibly cooked when you think about it.
That being said, you could equate our tendency to reach for a bottle whenever possible to our tendency to gravitate towards good times – but good times don’t really need to be uplifted by alcohol, right? And that’s where a bit of the problem stems from.
Don’t worry, we’re not going to grill you on how terrible binge drinking is. That would make us complete hypocrites. Rather, we just want to have a crack at providing you with relevant info so you can make a decision for yourself.
Drink. Don’t drink. Your call. But here’s the 411 anyway.
WHAT THE HELL IS BINGE DRINKING?
Christ, if we all had a dollar for everytime the term ‘binge drinking’ was shoved down our throats, then I’d dare say the housing crisis would evaporate in mere days. Perhaps it’s the frequency in which we hear it that creates the confusion as to what it means, so let’s get on the same page real quick. According to Drinkwise, “Drinking continuously for a number of days or weeks, occasional or irregular bouts of heavy drinking or drinking deliberately to get drunk can all be considered binge drinking.”
It’s pretty ambiguous, right? Well, it kinda has to be to include any drinking-related behaviour that’s in any way considered harmful (which is a lottttttt of different things, unfortunately).
WHAT’S THE SHORT-TERM IMPACT OF BINGE DRINKING?
Regardless of your age, the short-term impacts of binge drinking (as in, what could happen to your body in that sitting) are pretty much the same.
There are many risks associated with binge drinking including memory loss, injury to yourself or others, dizziness, loss of coordination, diarrhoea, vomiting, lack of judgment and even alcohol poisoning – which can be fatal, says Drinkwise.
But many folks agree that the most dangerous elements of binge drinking in the short term are physical accidents, as well as doing things/behaving in a way free of inhibitions that’ll land you in hot water. Are you more likely to fall off the side of a boat when you’re sauced? Yes. Are you more likely to misconstrue what one of your friends has said and subsequently lose your crap at them for no reason? Yes. Are you more likely to swipe a case of beers that a bottle shop accidentally left outside and then be arrested a week later ‘cos your ass was caught on CCTV? Yes. Those are the short-term impacts of binge drinking that you need to be wary of, people. Give ’em some thought.
WHAT’S THE LONG-TERM IMPACT OF BINGE DRINKING?
So, working on the assumption that you’re letting your hair down once or twice a week, just how bad is binge drinking for your bod in the long run? There are a few milder issues (depending on how much you value ‘em), which include bad skin and, y’know, world-ending hangovers. But there are a few doozies which you really need to be across.
The most harmful issue that could arise from sustained drinking in your younger years is brain damage. Yep, brain damage.
Research shows that the brain continues to develop throughout adolescence and well into young adulthood, says the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s report ‘Young Adult Drinking’. Many scientists are concerned that drinking during this critical developmental period may lead to lifelong impairments in brain function, particularly as it relates to memory, motor skills, and coordination.
BUTTTTT, once again, that doesn’t happen to 100% of people. Some of us MIGHT be all good regardless of how much/how frequently we’re guzzling grog.
Even though research shows that drinking early in life can lead to impairment of brain function in adulthood, findings also show that not all young people who drink heavily or become alcohol dependent will experience the same level of impairment, and some may not show any damage at all. This is because factors such as genetics, drinking patterns, and the use of other drugs also influence risk.
Binge drinking can, unfortunately, lead to a whole host of diseases and cancers including heart disease, liver disease, and cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, stomach, bowel, liver and breast cancer. It’s the same deal as alcohol-caused brain damage – none of those things might happen even if you’re drinking excessively, or you could cop a bunch of them if you’re only being a lil’ naughty.
If you’re a binge drinker, then there’s a good chance you’re carrying a bit of extra weight or struggle to keep it off. Drinking stops your body from burning fat because it’s already dealing with all those shots you’ve just smashed. In addition to being high in calories itself, booze makes you hungry/not give a crap about the diet you’re trying to stick to – which is why you’re chasing that kebab at 3AM. In the same way alcohol can cause a whole host of diseases and cancer, carrying this extra weight might cause you to develop them too.
At the end of the day, your body really is copping a ton of crap from getting bent out of shape regularly. Sure, you might be one of the lucky ones whose body bounces back entirely after their booze-fueled 20s/30s. Or you could be cutting your life short.
You never know what might happen on those party nights, so make sure you have health cover for the unexpected. Medibank have some excellent cover you might be interested in.
Anyway, you’ve got all the info now. Your call.