The season of celebrations draws to an end. It’s a good time to reflect upon the year that was. And while you’re at it, think about the alcohol that was part of the festivities. You probably had a drink or two, maybe more. But did you know that your social drinking could very well lead you to the point of addiction? If recent studies are anything to go by, social drinkers have no idea when they go overboard with their alcohol intake. Binge drinking is becoming more common amid seemingly casual drinkers. With liver disease-related deaths on the rise, it’s time to take a closer look at the potential cause. Could you be headed towards an alcohol binge? Read on to find out.

How Much Is Too Much?
On an average, 3-4 units of alcohol for men (2 glasses of wine, 2 pints of light beer, or 1 pint of strong lager) and 2-3 for women (1 glass of wine, 1 pint of light beer, or 1/2 pint of strong lager) are acceptable, per day. Exceeding this amount signals a problem. Even if you aren’t drinking every single day, if you indulge excessively on a drinking day, it could count as a binge. According to psychologist Dr Steve Desai, the typical behavior associated with binge drinkers involves drinking till you feel sick, drinking till you run out of money, or till your friends urge you to stop. If your capacity for alcohol is high, it’s because your body has learned to produce more of the enzyme required to break it down. It’s not alcohol that causes liver disease, but the toxins that it is broken down into. So if you feel like two glasses of wine do nothing to you, think again, before you reach out for the third glass.

How It Affects The Body
Alcohol can have serious effects on the body. Some of these are dental, such as a need for more fillings, staining and erosion of the tooth enamel, as well as increased sensitivity. Diarrhea is a sign that your liver cannot break down fat properly, as it is busy processing excess alcohol. Urine that is darker than its usual in color indicates that the liver is not filtering out dead blood cells and other waste effectively. Binge drinkers also experience disturbed sleep, both because alcohol becomes a stimulant when it’s broken down, and because it interferes with the production of an anti-diuretic hormone, making you wake up more often at night in order to urinate. Alcohol also leads to severe dehydration, so if you suffer from dry eyes the day after a drinking session, it may be time to cut back on the booze.

How It Affects The Mind
Excessive drinking can lead to increased dependence on alcohol and the beginning of a vicious cycle. Aside from becoming forgetful and ill-tempered (largely due to a cumulative lack of sleep), binge drinkers tend to become emotionally dependent as well. Dr Desai states that in psychiatric terms, binge drinking is an emotional disorder. You may not be drinking every single day, but whenever you do, say on weekends, you drink excessively. Moreover, if you spend the week thinking about your drinking session on the weekend, obsessing over it, then it is a clear sign of a drinking problem. In most cases, you may not even realize that you’re a binge drinker, because you feel that drinking once or twice a week is perfectly normal.

Binge drinking is a serious issue, and if you find yourself recognizing the symptoms, it’s time to seek help.

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