Experimenting with alcohol has long been considered a normal part of becoming an adult. Binge drinking, by association, is also considered to be a part of the late high school and early college experience. There have been a number of recent studies that seem to suggest, however, that this is the worst possible time to experiment, because of the effects it has on a brain that is still developing. There are consequences to binge drinking for anyone, some are physical and some are more behavioral. In late adolescence and early adulthood, they can be more severe in scope than at other ages.
Binge drinking is defined as having four or more drinks for a woman, or five or more for a man, at one sitting. The numbers can be significantly higher, however, increasing the risks of negative consequences. Its affects on the brain have been studied extensively, and it can cause severe strain on the cognitive functions, as well as memory. It also affects judgment, but that will be discussed below. There are also very harmful effects on all the body’s systems, and alcohol can significantly impair the liver, the kidneys, and the pancreas. A hangover itself can be only a temporary annoyance, but when they become severe, the body is starting to become accustomed to alcohol, and the physical signs of alcoholism start to come into play.
In terms of behavior, it’s been discussed widely how alcohol consumption can impair judgement. This can lead to promiscuous behavior, unprotected sex, and even date rape. An embarrassing moment when drinking can be common, and often even amusing, but when the binge drinker is in a blackout, there can be hours of bad behavior, where the others won’t even realize that the drinker is in a state of blackout. Aggressive behavior is quite common, and this can lead to accidents and acts of violence. When youthful energy is also in the picture, this can be compounded, and it may explain some of the more horrific stories of college drinking.
The consequences are there at any age, but they do seem much more severe in younger drinkers. The risks are still very high, and it’s important to remember that both health and personal relationships really are at stake.