How to Stop Binge Drinking

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Binge drinking is the most common and costly pattern of alcohol consumption in the United States, and it’s also entirely preventable. Learning how to stop binge drinking is simplified if you have a basic understanding abusive form of alcohol consumption.

Although binge drinking does not always lead to alcoholism (alcohol use disorder), this phenomenon is damaging in many different ways.

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Data from the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH 2020) shows that half of all over-12s in the United States are current drinkers. Among these 138.5 million people, 61.6 million reported binge drinking in the previous month. This represents a slight decline from the 65.8 million people who reported binge drinking in the NSDUH 2019. 

More disturbingly, of those who binge drink, 17.7 million people are considered heavy drinkers. NIAAA defines heavy drinking as follows: 

  • Men: Consuming 4 or more alcoholic drinks in any day or consuming more than 14 alcoholic drinks per week.
  • Women: Consuming 3 or more alcoholic drinks in any day or consuming more than 7 alcoholic drinks per week.

Rates of binge drinking have increased substantially in general over the past year and are even higher among college students. The same data shows that fully one-third of college students report binge drinking at least once in the previous month. 

So, what is considered binge drinking, then? 

What is Binge Drinking?

Binge drinking is a pattern of alcohol consumption where the goal is to get intoxicated as quickly as possible. 

In addition to simply drinking alcohol systematically to get drunk, binge drinking is frequently associated with drinking games in a social setting. According to the CDC, binge drinking is a “serious public health problem”. Binge drinking can often lead to alcohol poisoning. Fortunately, binge drinking is also preventable. 

These are the standard guidelines for what constitutes binge drinking: 

  • When a man consumes 5+ standard drinks within 2 hours.
  • When a woman consumes 4+ standard drinks within 2 hours.

A standard drink is defined as: 

  • Glass of beer (12oz).
  • Glass of wine (5oz).
  • Single shot of liquor (1.5oz).

According to NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism), binge drinking is classified as any type of alcohol consumption that raises BAC levels to 0.08 grams/deciliter. 

Read on to discover how to stop binge drinking alcohol with five actionable strategies. 

How to Stop Binge Drinking

Although everyone has a different relationship with alcohol, there are nevertheless some universal methods of preventing binge drinking from triggering problems in your personal and professional life. 

  1. Explore your patterns of drinking
  2. Switch up your environment
  3. Identify what triggers you to abuse alcohol
  4. Create and implement alternative coping mechanisms when stressed or bored
  5. Reach out to friends and family to help you get the treatment you need

1) Explore your patterns of drinking

Before you consider how to stop binge drinking, you should first ask yourself a series of questions. These will help you determine the scope and severity of any problem. 

  1. Do you often consume more than a moderate amount of alcohol daily? Moderate alcohol consumption for men consists of 2 standard drinks per day, and for women a single standard drink daily.
  2. Do you frequently drink very quickly?
  3. Do you find it difficult to control how much you drink once you start binge drinking?
  4. How often do you drink purely to get intoxicated?
  5. Once you start drinking, do you find it tough to stop?
  6. Has your tolerance to alcohol grown?
  7. Do you often drink more than you intended or for longer periods than intended?
  8. Do you want to know how to stop binge drinking on the weekends?

The more you examine your patterns of alcohol consumption, the more accurately you can establish whether social drinking is developing into potentially problematic patterns of drinking.

2) Switch up your environment

Where do you binge drink most often, and who are you with? 

Sometimes, changing your environment can remove you from the risk of binge drinking. If, for instance, you always end up drinking more than you intended on Friday night after work, head to the movies instead of the bar. 

If you feel making radical lifestyle changes is too drastic, make tweaks to your behavior, such as only taking enough cash for a couple of drinks. 

3) Identify what triggers you to abuse alcohol

Perhaps the most valuable thing you can do when looking to stop drinking is to become aware of the people, places, things, and emotions that trigger you to abuse alcohol. 

If you choose to pursue recovery at an inpatient or outpatient rehab center, your therapist will help you to identify everything that triggers you. Next is where the hard work comes. 

4) Create and implement alternative coping mechanisms when stressed or bored

Two of the most common reasons for people binge drinking are stress and boredom. 

If you find yourself drinking heavily to cope with emotions like this, you should find healthier methods of dealing with life’s everyday stressors. 

A sensible starting point is to start gradually but consistently increasing exercise. Not only will you stave off boredom and de-stress, but you’ll also boost your mood through the dopamine release triggered by exercising. 

5) Reach out to friends and family to help you get the treatment you need

Telling your friends and family you plan to stop binge drinking is a great way to stay accountable. 

If you feel unable to tackle this alone, ask for help. Your loved ones can work with you to get you the addiction treatment you need to kickstart your recovery.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment at California Detox

As highlighted, binge drinking does not always lead to the development of alcohol use disorder. That said, any sustained pattern of habitual drinking is liable to trigger negative long-term outcomes. 

Here at California Detox in Southern California, we offer the following treatment programs for alcoholism at all levels of intensity, including: 

  • Inpatient program (residential rehab)
  • OPs (outpatient programs)
  • IOPs (intensive outpatient programs)
  • Virtual IOPs (remote rehab)
  • PHPs (partial hospitalization programs)
  • Dual diagnosis treatment programs

Our evidence-based treatment programs utilize medication-assisted treatment MAT) when appropriate. Several FDA-approved medications can help reduce the severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. These medications can also inhibit the cravings you will experience in the absence of alcohol. 

MAT is administered to supplement behavioral interventions like counseling and psychotherapies (either cognitive behavioral therapy or dialectical behavior therapy). 

By heading to California Detox to address your binge drinking or alcohol use disorder, we’ll equip you with the skills and toolkit you need to progress from detox to rehab to ongoing sobriety. We are here to help you throughout this ongoing process. To leave alcohol behind and to rise above the temptation to binge drink, call admissions today at 949.390.5377. We’re here to help you from detox to discharge and beyond and help you learn how to quit drinking alcohol.

FAQs

Even though binge drinking is damaging in many ways, not everyone who engages in binge drinking is alcoholic. That said, NIAAA data indicates that binge drinking increases the risk of alcohol use disorder developing over time. Additionally, a fact sheet from CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) indicates that 90% of people who reported drinking heavily also reported binge drinking during the previous month.
Everyone binges on alcohol for different reasons. Some young people may feel pressure from peers to binge drink at social events. Other people engage in solo binge drinking sessions, whether to self-medicate symptoms of depression or anxiety, or to hide their alcohol consumption from loved ones.

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