There are indications that some people are genetically predisposed to become addicted to alcohol. There are also indications that some people may experience a drive and a strong craving to drink to excess each time they use alcohol. Is binge drinking genetic? It is possible. First, some definitions.
Binge drinking is the tendency to push your alcohol intake until you are drunk within a very short time. If you go out with friends and enjoy 2 glasses of wine over appetizers, dinner and dessert, chances are good that you are not a binge drinker. If you head out with friends and have 3 glasses of wine within an hour or less, you may have a binge drinking problem.
Age and Community Play a Part
The genetic risk of addiction should not be over-looked. However, it is important that we also look at community risk factors such as the age at which you start drinking. As a general rule, those at the greatest risk of binge drinking are
- in the company of friends
There is a mindset among those who binge drink; functionally, they believe they are unlikely to suffer long-term damage from their drinking. In the company of friends, they may also choose to engage in dangerous behaviors such as timed drinking or competitive shot-taking. This is not to say that there are not people who binge drink all alone. For these folks, the physical risk of serious injury or death go up.
These may also be the people who are attempting to self-medicate away emotional concerns or mental health issues. Are you concerned that you are a binge drinker? There are triggers to consider; for example, you may have a problem if you have ever consumed alcohol until you
- blacked out
- vomited before sleeping
- engaged in a dangerous behavior, such as driving
It is also possible that, during a time of severe intoxication, you engaged in unprotected sex. If you drink to the point that you don’t recall what you did, your alcohol consumption may be putting your life at risk.
Waking up in your own bed with a hangover is not necessarily a sign of binge drinking. Waking up with a stranger is. If you can’t remember how you got home, who you left the party with, or who the person beside you is, it’s time to talk to someone. Alcohol can create a sense of euphoric disconnection early in the stages of intoxication.
As you get more alcohol into your system, the disconnection may continue but the euphoria will fade. It is not uncommon for those who binge drink to experience a complete personality change as they onboard more liquor. A cheerful person may become despondent. A smart, careful person may become a daredevil with no thought for their own safety.
Finally, an emotionally stable person could ultimately become suicidal as they take in more and more alcohol. If you have ever been accused of a behavior that is completely at odds with your personality while drinking, you may be someone who has a genetic risk of excessive drinking, including binge drinking. For some people who were raised in non-drinking households, these experiences may not come up until they are out on their own.
A peaceful person may wake up after their first drinking experience and find they were in their first fight and have no memory of the event. Consider talking with your family about any suspected history of alcoholism. If you have a grandparent who is estranged because your parent broke off contact due to addiction, you may have the genetic triggers that lead to binge drinking with little know-how in managing the condition.
Awareness is key. Additionally, you will want to have a frank discussion about addictions besides alcohol. The emotional aspects of addiction could entrap you before you ever have a craving for any drug. Having a family history of addiction could indicate that you are at risk for binge drinking. However, hanging around with people who are careless about drugs and alcohol could also lead you to make poor choices. If you notice any loss of time or behavioral aberration, it’s time to talk to an expert. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day. Call 855-334-6120.