Binge drinking and drug use can seem like a fun way to relax, blow off steam, or celebrate an event, but often proves to be dangerous. These acts take their toll on anyone who engages in them, whether occasionally or on a regular basis.
Defining Binge Drinking and Drug Use
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) breaks down binge drinking by gender. It defines binge drinking for males as consuming five or more alcoholic drinks on the same occasion or within a couple of hours of each other. For women, the number is four alcoholic drinks. These events occur at least once per month.
Binging on drugs is more difficult to define, owing to how many different kinds of narcotics are available. Generally speaking, it is defined as consuming a large quantity of drugs in a short amount of time. For example, someone abusing cocaine might not stop using it just once in the span of a few hours, but rather repeatedly consume it. Someone who abuses prescription drugs may take more than the prescribed dosage and more times per day than recommended.
It was reported in 2019 that 25.8% of adults 18 and over engaged in binge drinking at least once in the previous month. The number was higher for men at 29.7% versus women at 22.2%. The same report stated that 14.5 million Americans ages 12 and older have alcohol use disorder. This number includes 414,000 adolescents ages 12 to 17. Sadly, only 7.2% of those in the 12 and over category received treatment for their addiction to alcohol. Within the adolescent group, about 6.4% received treatment.
The Toll That Binging Takes
A lot of people who enjoy binge drinking and drug use kid themselves that nothing bad can come of it. Some don’t even stop to consider if they can cause harm by making a habit of doing this. Other acts that involve binging often leave a person with unhealthy side effects. Someone who binge eats may end up feeling nauseous, vomiting, or experiencing a spike in their blood sugar. If they repeat the experience enough times, it can develop into an eating disorder. Even binge-watching your favorite new TV show can lead to loss of sleep, eye strain, and putting off tasks that need to be done. The old adage about doing “all things in moderation” became a saying for a reason.
Why People Engage in Binge Drinking and Drug Use
Often, people who partake in binge drinking and drug use chalks it up to be a one-time thing or something they just do now and again. When they experience a payoff, such as stress reduction, feeling less moody or depressed, or forgetting all their troubles for a while, it can become a habit. Many people who end up addicted to drugs or alcohol started out just binging on substances from time to time until it became uncontrollable. Once someone develops a substance use disorder, it most often takes professionals’ help to stop.
Approximately half of all people who have a substance use disorder also suffer from at least one mental illness. In many cases, the addiction developed because the person used binge drinking and drug use as a way to take the edge off or hide the symptoms of their mental health challenges. These mental illnesses can include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Anxiety disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Bipolar disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
While getting drunk or high might offer an initial way to avoid something like sorrow or panic, these methods are ultimately unhealthy coping skills and, when repeated, can backfire. Someone who started out just trying to feel less depressed or have fewer moments of difficult emotions may end up adding addiction to their list of problems.
How to Get Help for Binge Drinking and Drug Use
When a person reaches the point that their binge drinking and drug use has turned into an addiction, it becomes necessary to seek help. Treatment programs offer several options to help treat addiction, including detoxification, residential, and outpatient programs. Many programs not only know how to treat substance use disorders but also help patients manage their co-occurring mental illnesses.
When both addiction and mental health are addressed at the same time, a person’s chances of having success with both problems increases. When symptoms of mental illness are better managed, a person finds themselves less likely to feel compelled to engage in binge drinking and drug use. Likewise, when a person is working on recovery from addiction, they stop covering up their emotions with drugs and alcohol. This allows them to figure out what the underlying problems are and work on healing them with a licensed counselor.
Addiction Treatment in California
Our treatment plans help young people move past addiction to drugs and alcohol and learn to love their new lives. Launch Centers provides detox and outpatient programs that help you learn to embrace recovery and plan for the bright future you deserve.
Launch Centers is happy to answer any questions you have about our program and how to get started. Get more information to contact our office or call us at our Los Angeles location today.