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 officially 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 slightly different from other kinds of alcohol misuse but it’s just as harmful. Many people who occasionally binge – either at home or with others – self-describe as “social drinkers” and do not think they have a problem with alcohol. But whether you’re drinking more at home due to lockdown restrictions or anticipating your first post-lockdown pint in the spring, it’s always beneficial to keep track of your drinking. If you want to know whether your drinking to safe levels, try the Drinkaware Self-Assessment tool.

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 drinking 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