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What is binge drinking?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Binge drinking is the term used to describe rapid and excessive consumption of alcohol. It is usually defined as consuming five or more alcoholic drinks in a two-hour period for men and four or more in the same time period for women. This type of drinking can dangerously affect such basic bodily functions as breathing, heart rate, and gag reflex and is the leading cause of alcohol poisoning.

Binge drinking, or heavy episodic drinking, is a term used to describe drinking more than four alcoholic drinks for women or five for men in one sitting, usually in about two hours. This type of consumption pattern is consistent with hazardous or risky alcohol use and may place people at increased risk for developing an alcohol use disorder. It also puts people at risk for other health issues such as injury, motor vehicle crashes and sexually transmitted diseases. Women who find it difficult to reduce drinking to three or fewer drinks at a time AND less than seven drinks in a week, may want to seek help from a healthcare provider.

This content originally appeared on HealthyWomen.org.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.