A couple of drinks before dinner, a glass of wine with the main course, a cocktail or two with dessert or some shots at the bar. A six-pack during the game or at a cookout. A few hours at the bar drinking with coworkers. A Friday or Saturday night at a party or a club complete with a few shots, a few beers.
All of these are defined as binge drinking sessions for men when the number of alcoholic beverages is more than five. They are so common that they may not feel like something dangerous or even out of the ordinary; however, binge drinking is extremely hazardous to the drinker’s health. For men, some of the most common health problems associated with the practice include infertility issues, increased injuries and accidents that may be fatal, and deadly medical disorders. Here’s what you need to know.
- Sexual Dysfunction
Binge drinking can be hard on the body and reduce its functionality on many levels. For men, this can be seen in reduced testicular function and a decrease in the production of male hormones. Ultimately, this can mean infertility, impotence, and even a reduction of some characteristics common among men, including facial hair or chest hair, according to studies published in the journal Alcohol Research and Health and the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Additionally, alcohol is commonly indicted as part of the impetus for sexual attacks. It may also contribute to other sexual choices that may be harmful to the person’s health, including having unprotected sex that results in an unexpected pregnancy or the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases.
- Injury and Accident
Injuries caused by accidents under the influence are a problem for anyone who indulges in heavy drinking or binge drinking, but men experience higher rates of alcohol-related hospitalizations and fatalities as compared to women. Additionally, among the drivers who die in car accidents, male drivers are about twice as likely as female drivers to have been under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher.
Men may also be more likely to engage in acts of physical aggression after drinking, increasing their risk of harm caused by getting into fights or making other risky choices. Additionally, rates of suicide are higher among men as compared to women under any circumstances, and they are also more likely to have been drinking alcohol at the time of suicide.
A number of health problems and chronic diseases have been linked to binge drinking and heavy drinking among both genders. For example, high levels of alcohol consumption have been shown to contribute to an increased risk of developing certain cancers, especially liver, esophageal, through, colon, and mouth cancers.
Men and Alcohol
Excessive drinking is more likely to occur in men than it is in women, and men are also more likely to make risky choices when under the influence – the more alcohol ingested, the riskier the choices. For example, men may be more likely than women to drive recklessly or to drive without wearing a seatbelt in any situation and even more so after drinking.
Additionally, the following is true about men and alcohol:
- Most men who regularly engage in binge drinking are not dependent upon alcohol, nor are they alcoholics.
- About 63 percent of men over the age of 18 reported drinking alcohol in the past month when surveyed. Additionally, 24 percent men reported binge drinking in that same time period, about twice as many as women.
- On average, men reportedly averaged about 12.5 binge drinking sessions each year. Comparatively, women engaged in about 2.7 binge drinking sessions per year, on average.
- Binge drinking, or any regular heavy alcohol use, can lead to an addiction to alcohol. It is estimated that about 17 percent of men will develop an alcohol dependency at some point in their lives. Comparatively, about 8 percent of women will develop an addiction to alcohol.
Men and women alike can benefit from seeking treatment when binge drinking is an issue. There can be a number of social and mental health consequences of regular, heavy alcohol use in any form. If a person is unable to moderate his drinking alone, then engaging in treatment services can help him to get back on track. Some options include:
- Personal therapy: Meeting one on one with a therapist can help someone who struggles with binge drinking to determine how it is impacting his life and also to attempt different strategies to address the issue.
- Group therapy sessions: Getting support from others who are also struggling with binge drinking can be helpful in creating a community in recovery and also in learning from those who have been there how best to handle the issue.
- Alternative therapies: A number of alternative therapies are available to people who may not feel comfortable in talk therapy. Art therapy, sports therapy, outdoors and adventure therapy – there are a number of different opportunities.
- Holistic treatment: Meditation, acupuncture, massage and bodywork, yoga – there are also a number of holistic treatments that have been proven effective in the management of a drinking problem.
Additionally, if the drinker is struggling with co-occurring mental health symptoms (e.g., depression, anxiety, anger, grief, etc.) then treatment for these issues can also help the person to avoid the risks associated with alcohol use and abuse. What do you need to break from a binge drinking problem?