Binge Drinking Can Damage the Brain

Binge drinking can damage the brainAs little as four to five drinks in a 2-hr period can actually damage the brain and lead to numerous serious health conditions.  

Defined as five or more drinks during a 2-hr period for men or four or more drinks in the same amount of time for women, binge drinking is a common form of entertainment for adults, but also is highly prevalent in our youth.  In fact, one in three high school seniors are binge drinking at least once per month. 

In addition to brain damage, binge drinkers often suffer a number of very serious and significant consequences: 

  • Accidents and injuries (e.g., car crashes, falls, burns, drowning) Binge drinkers are 14 times more likely to report alcohol-impaired driving than non-binge drinkers.
  • Intentional injuries (e.g., firearm injuries, sexual assault, domestic violence)
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Unintended pregnancy
  • Children born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
  • High blood pressure, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases
  • Liver disease
  • Neurological damage
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Poor control of diabetes

In a study from Duke, young binge drinkers were found to have significantly smaller prefrontal cortexes on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The prefrontal cortex is an area of the brain associated with complex thinking, planning, inhibition, and emotional regulation. In this study, the size of the prefrontal cortex strongly correlated with the average number of drinks each individual consumed per drinking episode.

Source:  National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institute of HealthMedPageToday, Sept 2005

Source: Dr. De Bellis et al, Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, Sept 2005 Reported in

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