Binge drinking

‘Binge drinking’ usually refers to drinking lots of alcohol in a short space of time, or ‘drinking to get drunk’. It’s not easy to define, but researchers understand bingeing as consuming more than eight units of alcohol in a single session. That’s just over three pints of 4% strength beer.

Binge drinking is a common drinking behaviour in the UK and is slightly different from other kinds of alcohol misuse. Many people might feel that they can control it, that they are “social drinkers” and do not have a problem with alcohol.

However, binge-drinking can pose serious risks to your mental and physical health.

Drinking too much, too quickly on a single occasion can increase your risk of:

  • alcohol-related accidents and injuries, including falls
  • misjudging risky situations
  • losing self-control, like having unprotected sex
  • leave you vulnerable and impair your ability to make decisions
  • becoming involved in an aggressive incident
  • becoming less able to look after yourself or others
  • becoming confused and disorientated very quickly

To reduce your risk of binge-drinking:

  • Spread your alcohol units evenly throughout the week – don’t save them up and binge at the weekend
  • If you’re out with friends, don’t give in to peer pressure – only drink as much as you choose to
  • Drink more slowly, alternate drinks with water and drink with food
  • Avoid risky places and activities; make sure you are with people that you know and that you know how to get home safely
  • If you’re going on a night out, set a limit for the amount of alcohol you drink
  • Never leave a drink unattended – this could leave you vulnerable to drink spiking