How Do I Stop Binge Drinking Alcohol?
There is no concrete definition of what exactly equals binge drinking. This is simply because every individual is different when it comes to physical tolerance to alcohol and so the effects of alcohol consumption will vary from person to person.
In the UK, the NHS defines binge drinking as:
For men, drinking more than 8 units of alcohol in a single session.
For women, drinking more than 6 units of alcohol in a single session.
Here are some examples in real terms:
- 4 pints of 4% beer is 9 units of alcohol
- 3 “small” glasses of 13% wine (175ml each) are 6.8 units of alcohol
- 2 “large” glasses of 13% wine (250ml) are 6.5 units of alcohol.
The speed at which these drinks are consumed will also make a difference in their effects.
Effects of alcohol
You may be wondering what effects binge drinking can have on you. These effects differ in the long and short terms and depend on individual factors but certain common elements are being observed:
The short term effects include such things as impairment in decision-making abilities, loss of inhibition, increased risk-taking (including in sexual activity) as well as possible serious, or even fatal, injury.
Links have been found between long term increased alcohol consumption and several chronic conditions such as hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.
Why do people binge drink?
The most important question is not why do other people binge drink, but why do you? There can be several reasons why people drink to excess and you might be able to relate to one or many of them.
It is not vital to know precise reasons why you are drinking more than advisable but recognising some background factors can help when it comes to working out how you can stop or reduce your alcohol intake.
Many people binge drink on alcohol because they feel it helps them relax and forget about any anxieties or pressures they may be feeling may be at work or in relationships etc. A common pattern related to this is weekend binging.
Some people see the opportunity to consume excessive alcohol at the weekend as their way of coping with the rest of the week, seeing it as some sort of “release valve” for the pressure that has built up from Monday to Friday.
Similarly, some people see weekend binging as a reward for the hard work that the rest of the week has entailed.
Some people find themselves binge-drinking alcohol based on the behaviour of their social circle. For some people, for example, going to the pub with friends on Friday night and drinking five pints of lager is just “what we all do”.
For others, perhaps Saturday night normally involves: having a gin and tonic at home, before going out for a meal with wine, and perhaps even continuing drinking when getting home.
The alcohol in these cases has become part of a routine, a pattern that is looked forward to and the prospect of changing this does not present itself as very desirable.
Perhaps, however, you might be drinking excessively in order to cope with something more than just the typical stresses and strains of a working week.
Some people use alcohol as a way to cope with emotional pain or otherwise challenging periods in their life, for example, due to job loss or the illness of a family member.
In this situation it can seem like alcohol and getting drunk is the only available way to manage the difficulties that are taking place.
How do I stop binge drinking alcohol?
No matter why you drink, or what you drink, you are taking the positive step of looking for ways to try and change your drinking habits.
The good news is that there are many different methods and options available that have proven effective in helping people decrease their alcohol consumption or stop drinking entirely.
How can I cut back on my drinking?
There are many different things you can try in order to help you change your drinking habits and establish a healthier relationship with alcohol. Any of the following suggestions can be used on there or in conjunction with other suggestions.
Some suggestions work better for some people than they do for others: try them out and keep to what works for you.
- If you go out to drink, only take with you enough money to buy a certain number of drinks. Leave your credit/debit card at home. When the money runs out you will have no other option but to stop drinking.
- Change what you drink. Choose lower strength beverages; drink bottles of beer rather than pints, small glasses of wine rather than large; follow each alcoholic drink with a soft drink; there are a wide variety of non-alcoholic drinks now available in many pubs, bars and supermarkets.
- Tell someone you are with that you are trying to cut back. Even if no one else says or does anything, the fact of knowing that your attempt to cut back is known by others is often enough to help you keep to the decision not to drink excessively.
I still can’t stop drinking too much
If you have tried using various techniques and suggestions to cut down or regulate your drinking but are finding yourself unable to stop drinking too much there are still many things you can do.
Don’t think that there isn’t any way for you to improve the situation. Just work your way through the following options.
1. Speak to someone – you are not alone.
It is very common for people to feel isolated when it comes to their struggles with alcohol and this can often be due to a sense that issues around drinking bring with them, at the least embarrassment, but often feelings of shame.
Perhaps you are feeling that you should be able to control your drinking by yourself “like everyone else” and that you don’t want anyone else to know.
Ask yourself what you would say to a close friend whom you discovered was struggling with their drinking. Surely, the first thing you would want to do is try to encourage them to talk about it.
If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a friend or relative, don’t worry, go straight to the next option below.
2. Go to your GP
Going to your GP about your drinking habits might seem a bit strange at first thought but actually, your GP is among the best ways of getting help suited to your specific needs, and you can be certain that it will all be dealt with in confidence.
Alcohol, no matter how much we drink, has an effect on our bodies. Excessive alcohol consumption can have a significant impact on our health.
When you talk honestly to your GP about your drinking habits they will be aware of all the possible ways your body may have been affected and can guide you as to what steps would be best to take.
GPs also have details about and access to the very many different services that are available to help you find a way forward that works for you.
3. Get in contact with an alcohol support service
There are various different support services available to help people deal with alcohol issues. They differ in their methods as to whether they offer individual support, group activities, or even residential treatment.
Above all else – take it one day at a time
Some of the things that come to your mind when researching alcohol issues might cause you to feel anxious or even overwhelmed. The fact that you are looking for ways to stop binge drinking alcohol means that you are taking the first step in making things better.
Try to put in place the suggestions you have read and don’t be afraid of seeking help from your doctor or other professionals.
Take it one day at a time and, if you fail on some occasions, don’t beat yourself up, just start again the next day and keep moving forward.
- Binge Drinking and Alcohol Support: February 2019https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/alcohol-support/binge-drinking-effects ↑
- Alcohol and Public Health – Binge Drinking: December 2019 https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm ↑
- Van Wersch A, Walker W. Binge-drinking in Britain as a Social and Cultural Phenomenon: The Development of a Grounded Theoretical Model. Journal of Health Psychology. 2009;14(1):124-134. doi:10.1177/1359105308097952 accessed at https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1359105308097952#.YRaeoWFUO1g.link↑