Dangers of binge drinking


Finding a reason to drink is easy. There are parties, nights out or watching the football with your pals. But when we overindulge in alcohol, it’s hardly a case for celebration

Binge drinking - heavy drinking over a short period of time - has some harmful and even life-threatening consequences


Accidents, injuries and high-risk behaviours

Drink driving accounts for a large proportion of those injured or killed in road traffic accidents. Also, alcohol abuse is associated with high-risk behaviours such as physical assaults and risky sexual behaviour


Meadow6-200Alcohol poisoning

Alcohol poisoning is the most life-threatening consequence of binge drinking. It can block the functions of the brain stem, which controls all the bodily functions we don’t have to think about, such as breathing, heart rate, temperature and consciounsness

A large amount of alcohol can have a similar affect to a general anaesthetic. A really drunk person can go into a coma like state and it can be very difficult to wake them

Alcohol poisoning can be deadly. If the alcohol content in the body is high enough, a person will breathe very slowly or stop breathing completely and both blood pressure and body temperature will fall, which can be fatal.

Alcohol can also stop the pharyngeal reflex, also known as the gag reflex from, which puts you at risk of choking on your own vomit

Some other signs of alcohol poisoning include:

  • lack of muscular coordination
  • blurred or double vision
  • drop in body temperature
  • low blood sugar
  • low blood pressure
  • impaired judgement
  • coma.

If a person shows signs of alcohol poisoning and you can’t wake them up, lie them on their side and call 999 immediately


Long-term dangers of binge drinking

Drinking alcohol excessively and frequently for a long period of time can cause harm to several parts of the body


Brain damage. Alcohol affects memory function, concentration, reasoning and planning. It increases the chance of a stroke and developing brain abnormalities


Diseases in digestive system. Alcohol can cause the body to develop a peptic ulcer, an ulcer usually found in the small intestine, gastritis and stomach cancer


Heart problems. Binge drinking increases risk of developing heart muscle disorders, heartbeat rhythm irregularities and high blood pressure


Kidney damage. Kidney’s function in maintaining body fluids, leading to kidney enlargement


Liver disease. Liver function is affected by binge drinking, which can lead to liver cirrhosis (scarring). Alcoholic hepatitis (signs include swollen liver, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, bleeding, jaundice)


Psychological problems. Alcohol can cause mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and insomnia


Sexual and hormonal dysfunction. In men, binge drinking can cause erectile dysfunction, a decrease in testosterone and sperm growth. In women, it can affect fertility and altered hormonal levels in premenopausal women, which increases the risk of osteoporosis


Skeletal muscle damage. Alcohol can cause skeletal muscle myopathy, which reduces muscle weight and wastes away lean body tissue


Pregnancy and child developmental problems. Drinking alcohol while pregnant can cause the unborn child a range of development problems such as foetal alcohol syndrome, causing permanent birth defects


Lack of vital nutrition. Binge drinking depletes the body of essential nutrients, causing a variety of health problems. Read more in our Alcohol and Nutrition leaflet


Problems with work and daily activities. Binge drinking can cause lower participation and involvement in daily activities. Hangovers can cause a lack of productivity at work and absenteeism


If you feel that binge drinking is affecting your life and you want help to cut down or stop, then help is available. Get in touch with us on 01592 206200 or visit our Getting help page


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 Ever wondered if you might be drinking too much? Find out here






Sensible drinking


This booklet is packed full of good advice. For people who wish to drink within low risk limits. You can download a pdf copy here





Drinks diary


A diary for self monitoring. Use this as an aid to help you reduce your consumption. You can download a pdf copy here



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Other help






Browse information and self-help guides for common psychological problems.  You can find this useful NHS Psychology site here





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