The headline only brings up more questions, doesn’t it?
What exactly is binge drinking?
Is it technically even a problem?
Before answering that main question of, “how can I stop binge drinking alcohol?”, let’s sort out what binging itself really entails.
What Does It Mean to Binge Drink Alcohol?
Definitions are always critical. Everything is arbitrary until we define it and only after we define something can we make tangible change.
So, what is binge drinking?
Here we’ll consult the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), an authority on this topic, who defines binging as “a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 percent – or 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter – or higher. For a typical adult, this pattern corresponds to consuming five or more drinks (male), or four or more drinks (female), in about two hours.”
For good measure, they also provide the definition from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which similarly characterizes it as “five or more alcoholic drinks for males, and four or more alcoholic drinks for females on the same occasion (i.e., at the same time or within a couple of hours of each other) on at least one day in the past month.”
Does Binge Drinking Mean I Have an Addiction?
If you’re reading those definitions back and thinking to yourself, “wait, that’s it? Only 4 to 5 drinks on just one day a month?”, you’re not alone. Whether it’s a Sunday brunch with girls or a football game with the boys, there’s no doubt that quite a few folks easily find themselves drinking that much, or, in other words, binge drinking.
It’s decidedly common with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noting that “one in six US adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about seven drinks per binge. This results in 17 billion total binge drinks consumed by adults annually, or 467 binge drinks per binge drinker.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, 18 to 34-year-olds are the ones binging most with twice as many men partaking.
The costs associated with binge drinking are no joke, the CDC points to a 2010 estimate which said binging cost the United States $249 billion, resulting from “losses in workplace productivity, health care expenditures, criminal justice costs, and other expenses.”
This all leads to the big question; is it a problem?
Am I personally addicted to alcohol?
The answer is frustratingly vague: it depends.
Arguably the biggest thing to consider when weighing whether an addiction is at play is the idea of control. Are you in control or is the alcohol?
What does that mean?
If you can just as easily enjoy a meal, get together or event without drinking, there likely isn’t a problem. If, however, you feel you must drink to have a good time at that game or brunch, that could be a red flag.
When alcohol begins to dictate your behavior, it signifies that you’ve lost control and that an addiction, or alcohol use disorder, may be brewing.
How Can I Stop Binge Drinking Alcohol?
Getting control over your drinking before it overtakes you and grows into a bigger problem is key and being able to acknowledge you have a problem is the first step.
One of the ways to regain that control once you recognize the binging is getting difficult to handle is to seek help and treatment from dedicated addiction specialists.
At Safe Harbor, our team of clinical, medical, and operations staff has been helping people like you overcome their binge drinking and addiction for decades now. To learn more about our program, reach out to us today.