6 Tips to Quit Binge Drinking
Quitting binge drinking is not a small task. Quite a lot of the population has struggled or currently struggles with binge drinking tendencies. Whether for yourself or for a loved one, quitting binge drinking will be a huge step in finding and maintaining sobriety. To aid you in the process of quitting, we’ve compiled several strategies related to quitting binge drinking that can be implemented to make it just a bit easier for you.
Understanding Binge Drinking
Before jumping into the strategies to help you quit binge drinking, it's important to have a clear understanding of what binge drinking entails. Binge drinking is defined as consuming a harmful amount of alcohol in one session of drinking. The specific definition of a harmful amount may vary based on factors such as gender, type of drink, and the duration of the drinking session. You know when you’ve overdone it, so we’ll let you make the judgement call on if you’re drinking too much. If you want to quit binge drinking, you’ve gotta recognize your binge drinking.
According to the NHS, binge drinking typically involves drinking heavily over a short period of time with the intention of getting drunk. It’s tough to find an official definition to quantify binge drinking, but fortunately the United Kingdom has been gracious enough to provide a concrete definition. The UK’s alcohol strategy suggests that consuming more than six units of alcohol for women and eight units for men in a single day is considered binge drinking. To put it in perspective, this is roughly equivalent to 3-4 pints of beer (4.5%), 3-4 glasses of wine (175ml, 13%), or 6-8 shots of some type of spirits (25ml, 40%).
The Effects of Binge Drinking
Binge drinking can have both short-term and long-term effects on your physical and mental health. In the short term, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to poor vision, reduced concentration, impaired reaction times, and blackouts, where individuals experience short-term memory loss. Furthermore, binge drinking increases the risk of alcohol poisoning, which can have *severe* consequences on virtually all aspects of physical health.
Consistent binge drinking over a prolonged period can result in various health issues. It can lead to liver damage, increase the risk of certain types of cancer, raise blood pressure, and even cause brain damage. Mentally, binge drinking can exacerbate negative emotions, contribute to depression, and hinder effective coping mechanisms for dealing with stress and anxiety. You just aren’t doing any part of yourself any favors by continuing to intake as much alcohol as you are.
Reasons for Binge Drinking
Understanding the underlying reasons for binge drinking is crucial in order to effectively address and overcome the behavior. We engage in binge drinking for various reasons, such as societal pressure, social anxiety, the desire to loosen inhibitions, and as a means to escape from stress, low mood, or anxiety. However, it's important to recognize that using alcohol as a coping mechanism only provides temporary relief and does not address the root causes of negative emotions.
It's essential to differentiate between binge drinking and alcoholism. While binge drinking can be a form of excessive alcohol consumption, it does not necessarily indicate alcoholism. However, if someone regularly engages in binge drinking and displays symptoms of alcohol addiction, it may indicate a dependency on alcohol. Symptoms of alcohol addiction can include continued drinking despite negative consequences, impaired functioning in daily responsibilities, loss of control over alcohol intake, and using alcohol as an unhealthy coping mechanism. If this is you, that’s ok! You can do this. Let’s move on to the reason you’re reading: tips to quit binge drinking
Tips to Quit Binge Drinking
Now that we have a better understanding of binge drinking and its effects, let's explore seven practical tips to help you quit binge drinking and regain control over your relationship with alcohol.
1. Set a Drinking Limit
Before engaging in any social activities or events where alcohol is present, it's crucial to set a drinking limit for yourself. Determine the maximum number of drinks you will consume during the night and commit to sticking to that limit. To help yourself adhere to the limit, consider choosing alcoholic beverages that you don't particularly enjoy the taste of. This might seem counter-productive, but trust me, it works. Additionally, drinking a glass of water between each alcoholic drink can help pace your consumption and reduce the urge to binge drink. Simple enough, right? (Consider writing these down on a sticky note.)
2. Find an Accountability Partner
Having a trusted friend or support system can significantly enhance your efforts to quit binge drinking. Connect with someone who can hold you accountable and with whom you can regularly check-in. It can be beneficial to choose an accountability partner who has also struggled with binge drinking or has personal experience with alcohol-related challenges. Their understanding and honesty can provide valuable support on your journey to sobriety.
3. Replace Drinking with Alternative Activities
Breaking the habit loop of binge drinking involves replacing drinking-related cues with alternative activities. Instead of going to bars or parties where alcohol is the focal point, consider planning alternative activities with your friends. Movie nights, game nights, exercise classes, painting classes, or outdoor activities like jogging or hiking can provide enjoyable alternatives that don't revolve around alcohol. By engaging in these new activities, you can create new associations and gradually reduce the urge to binge drink. In fact, there are studies that strongly suggest regular exercise being linked to a lower urge to drink. So, as much as you might hate it, go for a run.
4. Cultivate New Social Circles
If it’s your friend group that’s pushing you to drink as much as you are, consider exploring new hobbies and joining communities centered around those interests. This will distance you from the social pressure to drink. Trying new activities and hobbies can introduce you to like-minded individuals who share similar interests. This can create opportunities to build new social circles that are not centered around excessive drinking. Whether it's joining exercise classes, visiting farmer's markets, or participating in sports, expanding your social network can contribute to a healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle.
5. Communicate Your Boundaries
Openly communicating your boundaries to friends and acquaintances can help you avoid peer pressure and unwanted alcohol consumption. Letting those around you know that you don't want to drink excessively can prevent them from encouraging or pressuring you to engage in binge drinking. By asserting your limits, you set a clear boundary and create a supportive environment that aligns with your goals of quitting binge drinking.
6. Consider Medication and Treatment Options
For individuals struggling with severe binge drinking or alcohol addiction, medication and professional treatment may be necessary. The Sinclair Method and medications like naltrexone have shown promise in reducing cravings and decreasing the pleasurable effects of alcohol. These approaches can help individuals regain control over their alcohol consumption and work towards long-term sobriety. Consulting a healthcare professional or seeking specialized treatment centers can provide valuable guidance and support tailored to your specific needs.
How to Quit Weekend Binge Drinking
Weekends often present unique challenges when it comes to quitting binge drinking. However, with the right strategies, it's more than possible to overcome these challenges and develop healthier weekend habits.
One effective approach is to find alternative ways to spend your time during the weekends. Engaging in activities such as going to the gym, visiting the beach, jogging at the park, or exploring new places can help divert your focus from alcohol. Additionally, participating in social activities that don't revolve around drinking, such as playing pool or darts at a bar, can provide a fun and alcohol-free alternative.
By cultivating new weekend habits that don't involve excessive drinking, you can gradually shift away from the cycle of binge drinking and embrace a healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle.
Overcoming Binge Drinking at Home
Binge drinking at home can be particularly challenging to address due to the familiarity and convenience it offers. However, with determination and the right strategies, you can overcome this behavior and establish healthier habits.
A crucial first step is to keep alcohol out of your house. By removing the temptation, you reduce the likelihood of succumbing to binge drinking at home. Additionally, taking the time to understand the emotions and routines that drive you to drink can be transformative. Engaging in mindfulness practices or reflective activities can help you gain insight into your triggers and develop healthier coping mechanisms. If being at home feels triggering, don't hesitate to reach out to friends for support or spend time outdoors to break the cycle of binge drinking.
Additional Resources for Quitting Binge Drinking
Quitting binge drinking can be a challenging journey, and it's essential to seek comprehensive support to enhance your chances of success. Programs like Ria Health offer online alcohol treatment that combines medical expertise, anti-craving prescriptions, peer support groups, and personalized coaching. Whether you want to cut back on your alcohol consumption or quit altogether, these programs are designed to cater to your specific needs and empower you to transform your relationship with alcohol.
Remember, quitting binge drinking is a personal and ongoing process. By implementing these strategies, seeking support, and staying committed to your goals, you can take control of your alcohol consumption and embark on a healthier, more fulfilling life.
So basically, you got this. Might seem like a lot right now, but take it one day, one hour at a time. Write those steps down and follow them. You could even go so far as to write down how you’re going to work on each strategy. I promise, you aren’t alone in this. Our entire team over at Relay is cheering for you.
National Health Services - Alcohol Misuse
Mayo Clinic - Symptoms and Causes of Alcohol Poisoning
DrinkAware - Get Help with Binge Drinking
Find Effective, Evidence-Based Treatment in the Relay Program for Alcohol Addiction
There is help available to you if you or a loved one has a physical dependence or psychological dependence on alcohol. These urges and compulsive behaviors can control your life, but you can take back control. Relay's addiction recovery program provides a comprehensive, outpatient approach to behavioral change - at home, at your own pace. To each new program member, we provide a personalized recovery plan, a peer support group, progress tracking, journaling, and intelligent insights about your behavior patterns, all within a simple and secure mobile app Our proven approach helps program members achieve the best chance at long-term recovery without the time or expense of rehab or therapy. Try the Relay program for free here; if you need help as you get set up, contact us now at email@example.com.
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