July 23, 2017 by gregrabidoux2013
It’s a rite of passage, right?
Text your friends, meet up, tap the kegs, throw down some body shots, maybe toss in a few games of beer pong, you know party down, post the blurry pics on snapchat, Instagram the whole thing.
It’ll be epic.
And if you drink a bit too much, okay maybe a lot too much, so what?
You’re only young once, right?
You call it “partying” your doctor calls it Binge Drinking.
And now there’s scientific evidence that the effects of “bingeing” last long after the pounding headache, nausea and black outs have subsided.
If you binge between the ages of 15-25 you are most at risk to do severe and permanent damage to two crucial areas of your developing brain;
Your ventral diencephalon which regulates sensory information and hormones and the middle temporal gyrus which controls your cognitive reasoning abilities.
So, the immediate aftermath of binge drinking, the slurred speech, the dizziness, inability to stand up or walk straight, the passing out and “blackies” (blacking out and experiencing short term amnesia) which thankfully either all fade and in the case of memory are regained (well, mostly even if the memories triggered by those snapchat shots or ill-advised FaceBook posts are less than pleasant) are just the beginning if the damage caused by binge-drinking.
Thanks to new studies published by the University of Oregon, depending on how much and how often you binge, your ability and capacity to perform tasks that require cognitive reasoning, analytical processing, critical thinking and even fairly basic problem-solving may all be damaged and sharply curtailed. Permanently.
So, for high school and college students it’s not just that fuzzy head that makes taking tests or learning new information the next morning or even into the next day difficult or impossible, it’s your ability to do so over your lifetime.
More startling news?
It seems that binge drinking negatively impacts teenage and young adult females worse than males.
For reasons science is still investigating, the left cerebellum of developing female brains shows more immediate, short and long-term damage from binge drinking than their male counterparts. This is the area of your brain that allows proper muscle development and movement and ability to process information and verbal and non-verbal cues from new situations and interactions.
One of the practical and undesirable effects of binge drinking then is correlated with a lessened ability to perform tasks and learn new information especially in cognitive-heavy areas like math, science and engineering.
So, if Binge drinking is bad for you (and honestly, did we really think it ever wasn’t?) and now we have an even better sense of just how bad, then in part, the question becomes, just what is Binge Drinking?
Well, here is where it becomes a bit, um, blurry.
Medical folks usually avoid a clear answer by saying it depends in part on one’s genetics, body type, pre-disposition to alcohol and even cultural association with alcohol.
Studies like the Oregon and others at San Diego State university along with researchers at Duke University seem to all share the following definition;
An excessive amount of alcohol consumption in a relatively short period of time, usually involving a mixing of alcohol types (like shots of Tequila, Schnapps, Beer and mixed (hard) drinks).
Thanks “Perfesser,” but what is excessive and a short period of time?
A rough guide seems to be anything more than 3 mixed drinks in an hour or consuming 3 or more 8 ounce beers in an hour and keeping this pace up for at least 2 or more hours for girls and slightly (but not as high as you may assume, for boys).
But let’s let the Bingers answer that one, shall we?
Surveys at some of the Top 10 “Party Schools” shared their own numbers, the results?
Seems when female college students “binge,” they drink between 2-3 mixed drinks, at least 3 shots and 1-2 eight ounce beers in an hour. Males admit to doing at least 4-6 shots of alcohol like Tequila, at least 2-3 eight ounce beers and 1-2 mixed drinks like Jack Daniels and Coca-Cola in an hour.
This pace of alcohol consumption is more or less maintained for at least 2-3 hours, with some students admitting they blacked out, vomited, and then came back for “rounds 2 and 3.”
Yep, I’d say that’s binge drinking.
And how often do bingers binge?
Seems that in a given academic semester (roughly 4 months) it is quite common for university/college students to binge drink at least twice each month or about 8-10 times a semester.
Do the math folks, that’s a lot of booze and a lot of probable if not now, definite damage, to developing brains.
Seems many of our most vulnerable and developing teens in high school are outdoing their university aged counterparts.
Is it cultural? Do we make alcohol too “taboo” in the US, in part, fostering alcohol abuse? Do we tie alcohol to far too many rites of passages in this country? Is our alcohol abuse, our bingeing, covering up some profound lacks of social skills, comfort with the opposite sex, being comfortable about who we are without being buzzed or obliterated?
Alcohol abuse counselors at high schools and universities cite all of the above plus issues like bullying, insecurity, peer pressure and a desire to be “part of the crowd” and to “be accepted” as just some of the many factors which seem to propel far too many teens and adults to binge drink.
But one thing out of the fog of alcohol abuse is far too clear now:
Binge drinking is bad. Really bad for your brain.
And no amount of gum, aspirin, or sleep the next day will completely undo the damage.