Binge drinking is widely recognised as a global habit that has serious repercussions on your health, wellbeing and lifestyle.
The acceptable social norms of the past have long been replaced by a new perception that dangerously underestimates the quantity and frequency of alcohol consumption, and the effect it has on the body and mind.
It is easy to get caught up in the habit of binge drinking because you’re usually having a good time when it happens. Alcohol is the most readily accessible and acceptable drug and is the mood enhancer of choice for an ever-growing number of people.
Alcohol is alluring because it lowers stress levels, increases confidence and generally makes life look a lot more appealing.
A binge drinker is often perceived as being an out-of-control drunk with self-destruction tendencies, who ignores responsibilities and engages in risky behaviour like unprotected casual sex.
Intoxication that includes consuming alcohol over a period of days or drinking more than 5 glasses of alcohol in an evening are also categorised as binge drinking. The clinical definition states it is prolonged use of alcohol and the giving up of normal responsibilities and activities.
Many young people binge drink in order to conform and fit in with peers. They often have a misconception that other people drink more heavily, and it is the disparity between the levels of alcohol actually consumed by others and the reality of personal consumption that breaks all acceptable social norms.
An extensive study amongst college students carried out in the 1980s by Perkins and Berkowitz showed that although three-quarters of students admitted they believed it was unacceptable to consume an intoxicating volume of alcohol, two-thirds of them were convinced that their peers believed binge drinking was acceptable.
Unfortunately, it isn’t just young drinkers who underestimate the number of units consumed.
Binge drinking alarmingly increases the risk of cancer and liver cirrhosis. The most effective way of reducing alcohol abuse and binge drinking is to take responsibility for the amount that is consumed. All too often a drinker will minimise the problem by assuming that everyone else is drinking similar quantities.
To stop binge drinking it is essential that you take personal responsibility by admitting how much you actually drink and what problems alcohol is masking.
To make positive changes to the way you view and consume alcohol it is important to devise a controlled drinking plan. Moderating your alcohol intake isn’t always easy, particularly if your binge habit has been around for a while. Relearning how to drink in a controlled way will help you put practical strategies into place. For some individuals controlled drinking is impossible. Often individuals who recognise they have a problem with binge drinking express not being able to stop after consuming 1 or 2 drinks and in some cases drinking to the point of experiencing blackouts in memory. In such circumstances making an abstinence-based recovery plan will be a necessity.
If you are attempting controlled drinking aim to slow down your drinking, particularly if you are convinced that you need to down 3 or 4 drinks to feel the ‘happy’ effect. Slowing down helps you monitor consumption and enables you to identify the triggers that usually influence the amount of alcohol consumed.
Alternate an alcoholic drink with a non-alcoholic beverage so that you think you’re drinking the same amount but the effect to your body is watered down.
Making a few positive changes to your usual social habits can greatly impact on the way you view alcohol. Instead of always heading for the pub or bar with friends opt to meet somewhere else where activity doesn’t mean drinking. Ban booze temporarily and fill the void with exercise.
After a period of weeks your body will no longer crave your binge habit.