According to research released by the National Institutes in Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, over 26% of people over age eighteen reported they engaged in binge drinking in the past month. Binge drinking, heavy drinking, and alcoholism (or an alcohol use disorder) are terms that are frequently used interchangeably, although they mean different things. Heavy drinking is having five or more episodes of binge drinking in the last month. The problem with binge drinking is that alcohol intake at that level can lead to physical and psychological problems as well as new or worsening mental health problems. Without comprehensive addiction treatment, binge drinking can lead to alcohol addiction and permanent physical and mental health problems.
What Is Binge Drinking?
One of the most common alcohol-related problems that affects people of all ages is binge drinking. Binge drinking is defined as drinking “a harmful amount of alcohol in one session of drinking.” What constitutes a harmful amount varies based on gender and the type and size of drink. For females, binge drinking is generally considered four or more standard drinks in one sitting. For males, this is increased to five or more.
A sitting is usually considered a window of two hours or less. This is because, in this time frame, the body does not have adequate time to process the amount of alcohol consumed within such a short window. It is also important to address the phrase “standard drunk” as it means different things depending on the type of alcohol. Both beer and wine coolers are typically 5% alcohol. One standard drink is a 12-ounce container. Malt liquor is usually around 7% alcohol, and therefore a standard drink is between 7 and 8 ounces. Spirits such as gin, vodka, whiskey, or brandy are typically 80 proof and contain approximately 40% alcohol. In this case, a standard drink (or shot) is 1.5 fluid ounces.
How to Stop Binge Drinking
There are various reasons why people binge drink. Although seeking addiction treatment at an alcohol rehab is the best way to overcome an alcohol addiction, other strategies can help you continue to progress towards a sober lifestyle. First, it can be helpful to change your environment. Think about where you are and who you spend most of your time with when you binge drink. If you are constantly reminded of drinking, it can be challenging to cut down.
It may be helpful to avoid bars or restaurants that you associate with drinking, as these triggers often lead you to consume alcohol even if you don’t want to. Also, enlist the support of family and friends to help you cut down on your alcohol use. Not only will your loved ones provide praise when you do well, but they may also help to provide a reality check when you choose alcohol over a diet soda.
Finally, find healthy alternative coping mechanisms. Many people who binge drink do so to cope with negative feelings such as anxiety and stress or to manage pain. If you are struggling with mental health symptoms or chronic pain, reach out to a provider and a dual diagnosis treatment center like Concise Recovery to learn about how treatment can provide safer, effective coping strategies.
Knowing When It’s Time to Go to Rehab
If you go out with friends, co-workers, or your partner during the week and drink five or more drinks (four for women) and you also drink heavily at least one night during the weekend, it is time for you to go to rehab to seek treatment for alcohol addiction. It is likely you have already experienced some of the unpleasant symptoms of alcohol addiction but may not be sure where to turn to get the help you need. Depending on the severity of your addiction, cutting down or quitting alcohol on your own could be dangerous. Seeking alcohol addiction at a rehab like Concise Recovery can ensure you can begin your journey to sobriety in a safe and supported setting while providing you with the relapse prevention tools you need for life-long sobriety.