Binge drinking is defined as consumption of alcohol that brings the blood alcohol concentration to 0.08% or above – equivalent to an average-size female consuming three or more drinks in about two hours.
A common pattern of alcohol use among women of reproductive age, binge drinking is associated with adverse fetal effects.
Binge drinking at critical periods of organ formulation elevates the risk of FASD. This is a cause of concern because many pregnancies are unplanned and the occurrence of pregnancy may be complicated by one or more episodes of binge drinking before a woman knows she’s pregnant.
Episodes of binge drinking may not be taken as seriously as persistent heavy drinking, but adverse effects in the fetus may still occur. As alcohol metabolism in the fetus is slower than in the mother, higher levels of alcohol are sustained longer in the fetal blood than in the mother’s blood.
Alcohol abuse is defined as a pattern of drinking that results in harm to health, interpersonal relationships or ability to work.
Manifestations of alcohol abuse include:
- Failure to fulfill major responsibilities at work, school or home
- Drinking in dangerous situations, such as drinking while driving or operating machinery
- Legal problems related to alcohol, such as being arrested for drinking while driving or for physically hurting someone while drunk
- Continued drinking, despite ongoing relationship problems caused or worsened by drinking.
In the long-term, alcohol abuse can turn into alcohol dependence.
Alcohol dependence, also known as alcohol addiction and alcoholism, is defined as a chronic disease characterised by the following signs and symptoms:
- A strong craving for alcohol
- Continued use despite repeated physical, psychological or interpersonal problems
- The inability to limit drinking
- Physical illness when drinking stops
- The need to drink increasing amounts to feel the effects
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