Binge drinking is defined by The World Health Organization (WHO) as consuming six or more standard drinks in one sitting, but what does this mean? Binge drinking is when you drink faster than your liver‘s ability to process alcohol. This means that your liver’s ability to process alcohol and complete its other vital functions are negatively affected.
What is a Standard Drink?
If you do not know what a standard drink is, you’re not alone. Only one in ten Irish adults can identify the three most common standard drink measures. In Ireland, we use ‘standard drinks’ and not ‘units of alcohol’. Common standard drinks include a half pint of 4.5% lager, 100ml glass of 12.5% wine and a pub measure of 40% spirits.
Why is Binge Drinking Bad?
Some people ask why binge drinking is bad if six standard drinks is technically within the HSE low-risk weekly guidelines. These guidelines state that women should consume no more than 11 standard drinks over a week with at least two alcohol-free days, and men should consume no more than 17 standard drinks over a week with at least two alcohol-free days.
Remember, the liver can only process one standard drink an hour. If you binge drink, your liver is under extra stress and faces damage, even if you are technically drinking within the guidelines. Find out more from the HSE.
What are the Health Risks?
Binge drinking can increase risks to your health, wellbeing and safety. Risks include cancer, stomach disease, accidents, high blood pressure, and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. There are many benefits to drinking less, such as better skin, better sleep, improved mental health and increased energy.
How Do I Stop Binge Drinking?
- Practice mindful drinking
- Alternate each alcoholic drink with a glass of water
- Switch to an alcohol-free alternative
- Order a free Drinkaware measure cup
- Use the Drinkaware Drinks Calculator to put your drinking into the context of the low-risk weekly guidelines
If you are worried about your or a loved one’s drinking, please contact your GP. You can also visit our Support Hub for further information.