Photo: Lindsey Gee
Drinking is a fairly common pastime for many countries around the world. You don’t have to go too far to find a crowd who is drinking while eating dinner out at a restaurant, watching sports games, dancing at the bar, enjoying a festival, or simply having a backyard cookout. Now social drinking does not seem to pose much of a problem for those social drinkers who can have one or two drinks while socializing with others, but what about those who cannot keep their alcohol intake to just a couple? What about those who continue to drink on after that second or third?
Binge drinking is quite common too
Binge drinking is defined as drinking a whole lot in a short amount of time, usually resulting in getting drunk. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as:
- Men: Drinking more than five drinks in one sitting in a relatively short amount of time
- Women: Drinking more than four drinks in a relatively short amount of time.
Binge drinkers typically don’t drink all the time, but perhaps on weekends or just certain occasions like weddings, concerts, etc. A typical binge drinker will not drink much or at all during the week, but when the weekend comes they will bring on the party and drink in excess.
For some people, binge drinking doesn’t seem to be a big deal, but for others it can get them into some trouble. After all, binge drinking oftentimes leads one to become drunk, and being drunk can cause you to say or do things you may regret later. There have been plenty of people who drank more than they wanted in one setting and then got behind the wheel and drove or got into a fight or some sort of trouble while buzzed or drunk.
How to stop binge drinking
Whether you want to cut down or stop binge drinking, it will help you to learn a bit about how to go about it. Typically, binge drinkers are not alcoholics and do not depend on alcohol. They’ve simply grown accustomed to drinking in excess occasionally. It’s become a habit, but a habit that you may want to break away from. Therefore, it’s a good idea to strategize in order to cut down or stop drinking all together.
Learn how alcohol affects you
When you learn how alcohol impacts your body in a negative manner, you may be less likely to drink so much. As you may have heard, the liver can become damaged with the consumption of alcohol, as it has to work extra hard to process the alcohol, which is a poison. The poison that the liver cannot metabolize in such a short amount of time is essentially circulated through your body, affecting it in negative ways. Drink enough and your breathing will become shallow and slow down considerably, causing you to black out, or worse, fall into a coma and possibly die. Why? Because your brain needs oxygen to live and too much alcohol slows down the breath, which means little to no oxygen is getting to the brain, leading to coma or death.
You may also notice that you feel sluggish and in a mental fog for several days after drinking. Furthermore, drinking can cause you to get into a car accident if you drive buzzed or drunk, hurt yourself or another person, do things sexually that you normally would not do sober, or cause you to say or do things that you regret, possibly losing relationships over such. When you educate yourself on how harmful alcohol can be, you may be less likely to want to drink at all. In fact, there are online alcohol resources that can certainly help you cut down or stop drinking entirely.
Stay away from people, places, and things that make you want to drink
If you want to stop binge drinking, stay away from places where you are tempted to drink at all. If your coworkers go out after work on Friday evenings and you tend to go with them and get drunk, start opting out of the gathering. If your partner wants you to go out with him or her every Saturday night to drink and dance, discuss how you may want to try other date ideas that don’t involve drinking.
If going to your best friend’s house tempts you to sit and drink with him half the night, take a break or stop going over to his house. If you’re not sure you want to quit entirely, simply take a long break from drinking, such as 3 to 6 months. See how it goes. Your sobriety matters and putting yourself in situations that act as triggers is not wise. Do your best to stay away from people, places, and things that cause you to want to drink.
Discover your triggers
What causes you to want to go out or sit home and binge drink? Do you justify this over a hard week of work? Do you cope with an argument with a friend or partner by drinking? Do you think that you can’t have fun without drinking? Sit down and take a look at what triggers you to binge drink. Take note of the triggers and then do your best to avoid them or change your perspective. For example, if you think that you can’t have fun at a get-together without drinking, it will benefit you to change your perspective on the matter, as you certainly can have fun sober and free. Your thoughts are impacting your life, so if you change your thoughts and beliefs, you can change your actions.
Talk to someone about your concerns
If you are having trouble stopping binge drinking, talk to someone about the matter. You can contact an addictions specialist, counselor, or a trusted friend. Sometimes just getting your concerns out can make a big difference and you can become accountable to that person. For some people, cutting back will not be the solution, but total abstinence. Stopping binge drinking is not as difficult as you might think. If you’re teetering on the decision whether to cut down or stop, rest assured that stopping is in your best interest and you’ll be thrilled at the positive changes that can come about as you do so.
You can also take the How to Give Up Alcohol Course to make changes at home in the privacy of your own home without needing to go to AA or expensive counseling.