The holidays are here and that means lots of parties and family gatherings, many that include alcohol. While safe social drinking isn't a problem heavy drinking is on the rise in the United States.
Binge drinking, once associated with hard partying college students, is now making it's way into mainstream America increasing at alarming rates among middle and upper class adults.
"I think I drink now more than I ever have in my life and I find that to be the case with a lot of my friends," said Samantha, an admitted binge drinker.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six U.S. adults binge drinks at least four times a month.
"Binge drinking is defined by how much alcohol you consume in a two-hour period, three to four drinks for women, four to five for men. That's enough to make someone legally drunk," said psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Bober.
Bober said binge drinkers are not necessarily alcohol dependent and therefore may not feel that their consumption is a problem.
"Many binge drinking adults are high functioning in their personal and professional lives," said Bober. "Alcohol has become a maladaptive coping strategy for people to deal with life and lighten the burden of existence."
This woman, who ask not to be identified, said she routinely drinks a bottle of wine or more in an evening.
"We'll go out for a girls’ dinner and we won't have one, we'll have five," she said.
"I think it's just fun and I love it," said Samantha. "It's a release, it's downtime, it's connecting with people and maybe it's why my friends are who they are because we have it in common."
Female binge drinkers are also more likely to avoid eating so they don't gain weight from the added calories in alcohol. It's a condition called 'drunkorexia'.
"If you're only going to eat a certain amount of calories or consume a certain amount of calories in one day, you're going to want to consume them having fun, you don't want to consume them on boring food," said the anonymous drinker.
While they may not consider themselves 'alcoholics', this kind of dangerous drinking increases the risk of heart disease, cancer and liver failure.
"We know now that this type of drinking has toxic effects on all parts of the body," said Bober.
But for all the potential hazards, many binge drinkers don't feel the need to change their behavior.
"Certainly some mornings can be rougher than others, but it's never affected my ability to get up and go to work or take care of my kids," said Samantha.
"Obviously, where are long term effects to this but when you really want the experience, it's worth it sometimes," said the anonymous drinker.
An estimated 20 percent of Americans are binge drinkers, that's one in five of us binge drinking at least 4 times a month -- that's every weekend.
So even if you don't feel that you're an alcoholic, it's good to be aware of how often you're binging because it could easily become a daily habit.
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