I would like to talk a little bit about the consequences of binging on drugs and alcohol. I’m a psychiatrist on West Palm Beach and I’ve done a lot of work with people with substance abuse, drug addiction.
In this particular case, a lot of people come to me and say, “I don’t have a problem. I don’t use drugs everyday.” A lot of people will come to me and say, “Every two weeks, I just have to go out and binge drink. Maybe I will have 12 drinks. I will drink a bottle of wine. I will drink vodka, shots.” I have someone else who came to me just yesterday and said, “Every week, just to relax, I will take some Xanax with some alcohol and maybe mix with a 30-milligram Roxicodone.”
Other people come to me who say, “I really never use drugs or alcohol, but maybe once a month I will smoke marijuana with my friends.”
Everyone has got a different degree of what their binge is but I’ve seen binges pretty severe among younger people, 15 to 20 drinks with Xanax; some other people using 10, 15 Roxicodone 30 milligrams. Six to ten Xanax might be a binge (see: Alcoholic Addicted To Prescription Pills). The common drugs I see, cocaine, one to three, four grams in a day.
See, I only do that like three or four times a year. Well, here’s the problem with that. Let’s take alcohol. They tell me, “I don’t have a problem. I maybe use alcohol once a week on Friday. I have a few drinks.” Then I talk to them. What are a few drinks to you?
It turns out, “Well, before I go out, I may have two beers. I will go out and have a bottle of wine and then I will have two or three shots of whisky or at the bar afterwards. Maybe in the entire night drinking 10 to 15, maybe 20 ounces of alcohol.” What’s the problem with that in that particular drug alcohol?
Well, you do it once a week and you say you’re productive the rest of the week. I’m not buying it. That alcohol has probably affected your neurochemistry, your behavior for four, maybe five days. So it’s not just one day of the week.
So five out of seven days a week, you are actually impaired. You’re not recovered from that binge the next day or the following day. You’re only maybe at recovery at four to five days into it.
How Binge Drinking Affects Relationships
Now let’s take the binge. What happened in your relationships? Were they good? Were you behaving appropriately during that alcohol binge? Did you possibly damage relationships? Did you spend too much money?
So there are consequences in terms of family, friends, job (see: Relationship With An Alcoholic). So if you’re binge drinking once a week, maybe you’re not as productive on Monday or over the weekend doing some extra work or thinking as clearly as you could have to do more work or planning your future and being as ambitious as you could be. That’s a sure way to stop ambition.
So we looked at some who tell me there are no consequences to drinking. Well, here we take someone who drank, has altered his mental state probably for three, four, maybe five days. So he’s not thinking clearly. He clearly was not as effective two or three days afterwards to plan his future events. The alcoholic’s behavior during this binge was impaired and damaging to relationships. I’m sure coming home late drunk is not helping a relationship with a spouse, with family members, with anybody.
That’s not a productive thing to do and that’s just alcohol and that was pretty innocent. He didn’t get a DUI. He didn’t get into a fight. He didn’t get arrested. He didn’t commit any crimes, which could happen when people binge drink.
So there are legal, financial, social, work consequences to binge drinking. Then people come and tell me, I smoke marijuana once a month. I said, “Well, how much do you smoke?” Well I maybe smoke a joint or two. I’m like, “That sounds fairly innocent except that marijuana is in your system for the next three to four weeks. You’re under the effect of that marijuana for the entire month.” It’s not a coincidence that you smoke every month. It’s because the marijuana now that was in your system is now out and so you want to recharge again.
That one marijuana episode where you used marijuana affects you for the month. It’s affecting you for the whole month. So you’re kidding yourself. Issues of ambition, memory, concentration, follow-through, energy levels, diet, how you interact with others, how you work, how energetic you are, are all affected by that marijuana once a month.
So you’re kidding yourself when you say, “Well, I just smoke once a month. It’s having no effect.” That’s not what I see clinically in my practice here for the last 20 years. That has an effect. The binge drinkers – here’s another thought that I tell a lot of patients. You are reaching toxic levels. Your tolerance for the drug is low but when you binge on something, your body is not used to it so you reach toxic levels that are dangerous to the system.
Maybe marijuana you’re not going to die but alcohol you sure could. Cocaine you can overdose. Opiates and Xanax drugs like benzodiazepines you can overdose. Let’s talk about opiates. Here’s the most dangerous one, one of the most dangerous ones to binge on.
I have people saying, “I don’t have a problem but every once in a while (see:Convincing A Binge Drinker Has A Problem), I may take a few Roxicodone.” Well that behavior has probably lost 10 patients in this office. Why is that? The most dangerous drug to abuse on is probably opiates and the reason is someone who hasn’t used them for a while, a month, has no tolerance. As quickly as tolerance develops is as quickly as it goes away. So within a month of not using, the drugs affect on your respiration. Your ability to breathe and your heart’s ability to beat are affected.
So someone who could take three, four, five Roxicodone and be fine who’s using them everyday, if they stop using them for a month or two and then do it again in a binge, that’s lethal. The most common thing you will hear is someone who uses methadone and dies. You have no tolerance to it and you think you’re going to experiment or binge on a methadone? Twenty or forty-milligram pill? That is a way we’ve lost a lot of patients in this office because their tolerance is down. They take a methadone or an 80-milligram oxycodone and their respiration stop and they die.
Not to mention if they do live through this, the effects of being impaired that night and not know what you’re doing – and I have a lot of people fall and get head injuries, fall and get hurt because they’re completely impaired in terms of balance, their thinking. They’re nodding out the wheel of the car and getting car accidents.
They are predisposed to very traumatic events when they’re impaired on opiates. It’s another drug which recovery takes at least five days. So it’s not binging just thinking you’re using it in a binge.
Another class of drugs where I’ve lost a lot of patients and the most common member of this class which is called benzodiazepines is called Xanax. What’s the problem here? Binging on Xanax, you haven’t taken a Xanax months and all of a sudden, your friend says, “Here’s a Xanax bar, two milligrams Xanax.” I say that because that’s the most common one abused in this practice.
They take two Xanax bars and go to the bars. There’s an interaction between Xanax and alcohol. That individual goes into a memory blackout. Their coordination will be impaired. Their ability to think clearly will be impaired. They will do bizarre things. In a blackout, I had one individual break into a car, steal things from the car, leave the door of the car open, then sit next to the car, fall asleep until the police came and he woke up and he was asking the officer what’s going on.
Eventually wake up after being in a blackout and realize what terrible things they’ve said, done. Usually get in car accidents. It’s not workable. You think you’re fine. You’re very relaxed but you become disorganized in your thoughts. You enter a memory blackout, period. The worst that happens, this is how we’ve lost the most patients. When you’re mixing drugs like Xanax and alcohol or even just taking too much Xanax alone, you suppress your ability to cough.
So if you cough up or burp, any contents in your stomach can go into your lungs and you aspirate and you drown in your own vomit. I’ve lost numerous patients like that. It is a very dangerous thing to do.
So warning, binge drinking is how people are lost.There are negative consequences that accompany drug and alcohol abuse. Very common people have addiction problems. They don’t use for years on end and they go out and think they’re going to just use a little and it’s a binge because they’re not tolerant and they overdose and die.
Contributing Author: Timothy Odum On Google +