In today’s times, we tend to binge on things. We eat too much to overcome our stress. We tend to binge-watch a new web series so that we are not “left out” of the discussion the next day. It’s cool to “shop till we drop”. Similarly, we drink. Weekend binge drinking is the trend today. But once you get into these things, it becomes very difficult to break these habits. Let’s talk about how to stop binge drinking in detail.
First, let’s define what binge drinking is. For men, having five or more drinks in less than two hours is binge drinking. Whereas, for women, it is having four or more drinks in less than two hours. In other words, binge drinking depends on the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level. BAC is nothing but the amount of alcohol in one’s blood or breath. In an episode of binge drinking, the BAC needs to be 0.08% or higher.
Why Binge Drink
There are several reasons we binge drink. We tend to associate drinking with many things. Many ideas and concepts about drinking are popularized by the media. Rather than focusing on ways to stop binge drinking, social networking sites and media makes drinking fashionable. Some reasons why we might binge drink are
- Drinking is cool – In colleges, students drink because somehow drinking has been linked to being “cool”. Beverage and alcohol companies show drinking as something that the cool kids do. Advertisements, posters, media campaigns of these products present a very colourful and dreamy picture. Showing off in front of friends, living like a king, getting attention from beautiful girls, being rich, etc., are a few things that are repeatedly shown in these ads. They present such a desirable picture and subtly link it to alcohol. Who wouldn’t want that life?
- Curiosity – Some people drink because they are curious to know why there is such a big hype about alcohol. They want to attend these weekend binge drinking parties and see what happens there. The glamour associated with drinking only adds to their curiosity.
- Dealing with stress or depression – Movies and TV are partly responsible for this. You will be able to recall many scenes from movies where the actor is shown to go on a binge-drinking spree after a heartbreak. When we feel stressed, we feel having a few drinks will make us feel good.
Why Stop Binge Drinking
Binge drinking can be very harmful. Just as with any type of binging, binge drinking too can cause physical and psychological ill-effects. You cannot control your drinking impulses. When you binge drink, you drink more than you want to. You just cannot seem to stop binge drinking.
Another thing that makes binge drinking tricky is that you need more and more alcohol to get the same effect. In other words, to feel the same high, you drink more as you develop tolerance. This is the same tolerance issue you see with medicines and drugs. Some physical harms that alcohol or binge drinking can cause are
- Memory problems – experiencing blackouts or gaps in memory
- Heart disease – the risk of heart attack
- Poor body co-ordination and attention
- Weak immune system
- Liver damage
- Weight gain
- Engaging in risky behaviour – getting into fights, accidents
- Poor judgment and self-control
Hence, binge drinking is a serious problem and can lead to many harmful conditions if not controlled. However, the good news is that binge drinking can be treated.
Ways to Stop Binge Drinking
There are ways in which you can limit or stop (if you wish to) binge drinking. However, it will require your complete motivation to change. Be dedicated to working on yourself. In other words, be firm on your decision. There will be many temptations and distractions, but you need to stick to your goal.
Make a Good Plan
Start by making a good plan to stop binge drinking. Take a minute to study and understand your drinking pattern. Write down your analysis. Note down when do you drink – days and times. In which situations – place, occasion, events, where you are more likely to drink more. Write down who are the people that you usually drink with. Which ones are your most go-to brands? Additionally, note what is your mood during those times.
Next, you can make your small and step-by-step achievable goals. For example – at the next office party, you will have only three drinks instead of the five that you usually have. Also, note down what would be your reward when you reach this goal. For example – you will watch that movie you have been meaning to watch or order your favourite starter on the coming Sunday for dinner.
Prevent – Be Proactive
There are simple tips that you can follow to prevent from getting into a binge-drinking episode.
- Limit your drinking – Even before you start, decide what will be your limit.
- Drink slowly – Try to slow down. Take your own sweet time to finish a drink. Enjoy the taste.
- Focus on the other activities going on around you – In other words, if you are drinking with friends, try to get involved in conversations with them. Maybe you can even plan/participate in a game or find some other ways to enjoy the event besides drinking.
- Water – Consume water in between drinks. This will help you avoid dehydration and will act as a buffer between two drinks.
- Eat – Don’t forget to eat while you are drinking. It will give you the feeling of being full and also slow down your drinking.
- Drink juice or other non-alcoholic beverages in between as an alternative.
In conclusion, you can use these preventive methods to avoid or stop binge drinking.
Find a “Drinking” Buddy
No, not someone you will drink more with! Rather find a buddy who will act as a monitor to check your drinking. You could take the help of family members or friends who are going to be with you when you are likely to binge drink. Ask them to remind you that you are trying to stop.
Talk to your family and friends. Their support and help can be very crucial in such situations. You will need them and their care. Be honest and open with them. You might need to call them when you have cravings or impulses to drink. Getting their support will make you stronger.
Try Healthy Ways
At times, we drink to feel better. You feel stressed, depressed, or nervous. You drink to deal with these emotions. Instead, find different, better ways to cope. Try to redirect your thoughts when you feel these emotions. Think about positive things.
You can try meditation, yoga, or exercise to deal with stress better. If you need it, get help. Go for therapy or counselling.
Change Weekend Binge Drinking Activities
We have started associating weekends with trips and parties. Somehow the main activity at these outings and parties is drinking. Going on a weekend drinking binge is so common. The stop binge drinking, you need to first do away with this whole weekend binge drinking idea.
Plan a weekend with different activities; instead of a pub, club, or resort where you party, try going to a new place on a new adventure. Think about exploring your nearby places to try out new things. If you are a nature lover, find a place where you can go trekking. If you are the sporty kind, get into an adventure sport. For people who love photography, look out for classes where you can sharpen your skills.
There is so much to do and so much to learn. You just need to let yourself go and be open to trying new things. The parties and get-togethers are fun once in a while but don’t limit yourself to them.
Last word of advice – If you can give up alcohol, try that. Learn to say “no”. Sometimes it’s an all or none thing. So, if you are someone who cannot limit or do things in moderation, then you shouldn’t do them at all.