Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Man vomiting on toilet bowl in the washroom to illustrate binge drinking

Man vomiting on toilet bowl in the washroom to illustrate binge drinking
beginning of content

Binge drinking

3-minute read

Binge drinking is when you drink a lot of alcohol in one session, or continuously over a number of days or weeks. It is very risky to your health and wellbeing.

There could be lots of reasons why you might binge drink. You might feel peer pressure to get 'maggoted' or 'smashed'. You might feel awkward or uncomfortable at a party. You might not know how much you are really drinking.

The Australian guidelines recommend that adults should not drink more than 4 standard drinks over several hours. At least 1 in 4 Australians over the age of 14 drinks a risky amount of alcohol at least once a month.

In Australia, alcohol is so much an accepted part of 'having a good time' that many people do not realise it is capable of doing harm in a great many different ways.

What's so bad about binge drinking?

Lots of problems are linked to binge drinking and not all of them are obvious or short-lived. It doesn't matter how old you are, whether you are male of female or what size you are, binge drinking damages your health.

You might feel sick, vomit, feel shaky or have a hangover. You could injure yourself or someone else if you get into a fight, fall over or have a car accident.

Alcohol kills and injures many people each year.

You might also behave differently when you are drunk and do things you wouldn't normally do, such as:

  • have unprotected sex and risk a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or pregnancy
  • embarrass yourself
  • damage your reputation, which can affect your work or your family
  • lose valuable items, such as your wallet, purse or mobile phone

Long-term effects of binge drinking include:

  • problems at school, at work and with relationships
  • risk of emotional and mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety
  • physical and psychological dependence on alcohol
  • health effects, such as damage to the brain and liver and increased risk of certain cancers

Are you at risk?

Find out if you're at risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes or kidney disease using our Risk Checker.

Binge drinking and pregnancy

When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, so does her baby. This is because alcohol crosses from the mother’s blood to her unborn baby’s blood. The risks to the unborn baby increase the more the mother drinks, so binge drinking is especially harmful.

Alcohol also crosses into breast milk, so your nursing baby is affected when you drink.

Some babies are born with foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) or develop attention and learning disorders because of their mother’s heavy drinking. For the sake of your baby, the safest choice is to abstain from drinking alcohol while pregnant or breastfeeding.

More information

If you or someone you know needs support or treatment because of their alcohol intake, you can contact:

  • your doctor
  • your local community health service
  • Drinkwise Australia at
  • Alcoholics Anonymous Australia at or call 1300 22 22 22
  • an alcohol or other drug helpline in your state/territory:
    • ACT: (02) 5124 9977
    • NSW: 1800 250 015
    • NT: 1800 250 015
    • Qld: 1800 177 833
    • SA: 1300 13 1340
    • Tas: 1800 250 015
    • Vic: 1800 888 236
    • WA: (08) 9442 5000 (Perth), 1800 198 024 (WA country)
  • eheadspace (for youth aged 12-25) on 1800 650 890, or go to

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: July 2019

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

What binge drinking does to the body | Alcohol and drugs | ReachOut Australia

Find out what binge drinking is and its consequences on your health. Visit us to read more about short-term and long-term effects of Binge drinking.

Read more on website

Effects of Alcohol, Binge Drinking & Withdrawal Symptoms | Your Room

Alcohol is a legal drug which has many short and long term side effects. Read about the effects of binge drinking, alcohol withdrawal symptoms and more.

Read more on NSW Health website

Curbing binge drinking when you're over 40 - Hello Sunday Morning

Statistically, some groups of older adults are alongside their younger counterparts in being classified as binge drinkers.

Read more on Hello Sunday Morning website

Alcohol and farmers | National Centre for Farmer Health

Alcohol is widely used in social interactions but it can cause many health, social, and safety problems when not used responsibly. People in farming communities are more likely to binge drink (consume alcohol at short-term risky levels) when compared with the general Australian population. Read more...

Read more on National Centre for Farmer Health website

The sobering truth about the ‘silly season’ - Alcohol and Drug Foundation

Different health departments and hospitals across the country have said December is typically a really busy time for them and alcohol contributes to this.

Read more on Alcohol and Drug Foundation website

How to party | Alcohol and drugs | ReachOut Australia

Partying safely means that you’re less likely to get into trouble, and more likely to just have a good time.

Read more on website

Alcohol addiction | ReachOut Australia

Alcohol addiction or alcoholism refers to the physical or emotional dependence on alcohol. Find out the signs of alcohol addiction, the effects and treatment here.

Read more on website

Smoking, drugs and alcohol – what do I tell my teenager? - Triple P Positive Parenting Australia

Many teenagers drink alcohol, smoke or take drugs. Find out Triple P Positive Parenting's advice to help parents make these conversations count.

Read more on Triple P - Positive Parenting Program website

Pregnancy - Pregnancy Topics - Alcohol while planning a pregnancy

Yes, drinking alcohol during pregnancy can harm a baby

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) | Raising Children Network

Drinking alcohol in pregnancy can cause birth defects and long-term health problems for babies and children. This is fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).

Read more on website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo