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How Does Binge Drinking Affect Professionals’ Mental Health?

How Does Binge Drinking Affect Professionals’ Mental Health?

Binge drinking is a common and sometimes celebrated practice for professionals across a variety of professions. For many professionals, “binge drinking” goes by another name, whether it is celebrating, networking, relaxing, grabbing “a drink” after work, and other identities.

Problematically, like most of the population, professionals may not know what constitutes binge drinking and for them, binge drinking may be normalized as it operates under any other name.

Defining Binge Drinking

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol defines binge drinking as any pattern of drinking which raises the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 or above in a short amount of time. Volume wise, this is typically four drinks for women and five drinks for men in about a two hour period.

Slightly different, SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, defines binge drinking as four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men on any single occasion; meaning, within just a couple of hours. Moreover, this kind of drinking occasion happens on just one day within the last 30 days or full month. Commonly, binge drinking is seen as being frequent, but the definitions of binge drinking show that does not have to be the case. However, the confusion on the definition of binge drinking enables professionals to continue engaging in the harmful behavior, thinking it is normal.

Effects Of Binge Drinking

Fast, excessive drinking is not necessarily a cause for the development of alcoholism, though binge drinking certainly can and many times does lead to alcoholism. There are, however, numerous risks to binge drinking, like a weakened immune system and a greater risk for heart failure. Mentally, binge drinking causes stress, can lead to depression, and increases anxiety. If a professional is living with a treated or an untreated mental health disorder like a mood or personality disorder, binge drinking can exacerbate those symptoms as well, leading to more stress, more depression, and more anxiety.

Why Binge Drinking “Doesn’t Work”

Many people have come to regard a “binge” session of Netflix as self-care. Research has found that even though binge watching a favorite show or a string of movies does produce pleasure in the brain, ultimately, it leaves people feeling depressed. Binge drinking is the same. In the moment, there may be temporary relief or benefit. Immediately after, in the short term, and in the long term, those benefits cease to exist. Binge drinking will most often become a problematic part of a problematic routine for professionals and can end up disastrous for a professional’s career.

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