(WJBK) - Sometimes it's a special event, sometimes it's just the weekend. Whatever the reason is for enjoying an adult beverage, doctors say too many Americans are taking it too far.
Celebrating might be fun, but binge drinking is very serious -- and new numbers show about 37 million Americans are doing it, meaning they admit to consuming 7 drinks in one outing.
"When you consider that the minimum definition of binge drinking is four or five drinks per two-hour session, this is significantly higher than that and it is with a frequency that should really cause people to sit up and take notice," says Dr. David Streem from Cleveland Clinic.
Researchers from the CDC looked at survey results of more than 400,000 Americans. Not only did they find that 17 percent of U.S. adults were binge drinking, but that they were doing so an average of 53 times per year. That's more than once a week.
Experts define a binge drinking episode as at least four drinks for women, or five drinks for men within a two-hour period. This is enough to raise a person's blood-alcohol-level to 0.08, which would result in impaired driving.
Dr. Streem says that more than half of all drinking-related deaths are caused by binge-drinking. He says that what many people might think of as a fun night out on the town can actually be very risky or in some cases, life-threatening.
A spike in blood alcohol levels causes problems with judgment, attention and reaction time. And while the dangers of getting behind the wheel while intoxicated might seem obvious, Dr. Streem says it's possible to get injured or even killed after binge drinking due to falls and other incidents create by poor judgment. He says that the bottom line is that Americans need to drink less.
"Generally speaking, Americans drink too much. And we would be well-served as a nation, both in terms of our health, our safety and our quality of life if we drank less," Dr. Streem says.
Long term effects of binge drinking include liver problems, stomach problems and can also hurt the part of the brain that deals with judgement, balance and coordination.