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What is Binge Drinking?

The results of Amy Winehouse’s inquest brought binge drinking back into the news in a big way.

It was established at the inquest that the singer had consumed a large amount of alcohol after a period of abstinence, triggering a coma and respiratory failure.

There were no drugs in her body. Her death raises the question of how much is too much and what constitutes binge drinking.

Binge drinking is officially defined as episodic excessive drinking. There is currently no worldwide consensus on how many drinks constitute a "binge", but in the United Kingdom, binge drinking is defined as drinking more than twice the daily limit, that is, drinking eight units or more for men or six units or more for women (roughly equivalent to five or four American standard drinks, respectively).

Controversy remains on how to best define binge drinking, as some people feel that the official definition is too broad and/or fails to take into account the context in which the drinks are consumed.

Around 40% of patients admitted to A&E are diagnosed with alcohol-related injuries or illnesses, many of which result from binge drinking.

Many people are able to keep their drinking within the recommended limits of alcohol consumption, so their risk of alcohol-related health problems is low. However, for some, the amount of alcohol they drink could put them at risk of damaging their health and they should consider private rehab.

Alcohol misuse is drinking more than the recommended limits of alcohol consumption.

There are three main types of alcohol misuse:

Hazardous drinking: drinking over the recommended limits

Harmful drinking: drinking over the recommended limits and experiencing alcohol-related health problems

Dependent drinking: feeling unable to function without alcohol

Many people who have alcohol-related health problems aren't alcoholics. Discover more about the different types of alcohol misuse from a specialist at a residential rehabilitation centre.

Units of alcohol

Alcohol is measured in units. A unit of alcohol is equivalent to 10ml of pure alcohol, which is roughly half a pint of normal strength lager, a small glass of wine or a single measure (25ml) of spirits.

The recommended daily limits for alcohol consumption are:

• No more than three to four units a day for men

• no more than two to three units a day for women

• For both men and women, it is also recommended to include some alcohol-free days each week. You are putting your health at risk if you regularly exceed the recommended daily limits.

Am I drinking too much alcohol?

Some signs that you could be misusing alcohol include:

• Feeling that you should cut down on your drinking

• Other people have been criticising your drinking, which may annoy you

• Feeling guilty or bad about your drinking

• Needing a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover

Some signs that someone you know may be misusing alcohol include:

• If they regularly exceed the recommended daily limit for alcohol

• If they are sometimes unable to remember what happened the night before because of their drinking

• If they fail to do what was expected of them due to their drinking – for example, missing an appointment or work because they were drunk or hungover

If you think you or anyone you know may fit into any of the above categories you may wish to consider finding help in a private rehab.

Facing drug addiction and alcohol abuse or the trauma and distress of emotional and psychological difficulties is tough on your own. Los Olivos residential rehabilitation centre has prefessional and caring support from councillers qualified to help.

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