Do I Need Therapy to Quit Binge Drinking?

Do I Need Therapy to Quit Binge Drinking?

Binge drinking is an extremely prevalent issue. So, if you’re stressed out by your binge drinking habits, you are not alone! There are a large amount of people looking to get help to overcome binge drinking. Getting help with binge drinking is easier than you think. From easy, effective, do-it-at-home options, to more intensive therapy, there are plenty of options that fit you or your loved one, and can help you get on the path to recovery and sobriety.

What is Binge Drinking?

Binge drinking is defined as a pattern of alcohol consumption that leads to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), this typically occurs when a woman consumes four or more drinks or a man consumes five or more drinks within a span of about two hours. It's important to note that these numbers may vary depending on factors such as age and body size.

Binge drinking is a widespread issue, with millions of individuals engaging in this behavior. According to the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately 21.7% of people aged 12 and older in the United States reported binge drinking in the past month. This includes individuals from different age groups, such as preteens and teens, young adults, older adults, and women.

Preteens and Teens

In recent years, rates of binge drinking among young people have been steadily decreasing. However, it remains a concern. The Monitoring the Future survey revealed that 2.2% of 8th graders, 5.9% of 10th graders, and 12.6% of 12th graders reported binge drinking in the past two weeks.

Young Adults

While binge drinking rates among young adults have been decreasing, they still remain high. According to the 2022 NSDUH, 29.5% of individuals aged 18 to 25 engaged in binge drinking. Additionally, among full-time college students in the same age group, 49.0% drank alcohol, and 28.9% engaged in binge drinking in the past month.

Older Adults

Binge drinking is not limited to younger age groups. Approximately 9.7% of adults aged 65 and older reported binge drinking in the past month. Older adults who engage in binge drinking may face unique risks due to potential interactions with medications and increased susceptibility to alcohol-related falls and injuries.


Women, in particular, face unique challenges when it comes to binge drinking. Studies show that approximately 1 in 4 women who drink have engaged in binge drinking in the last month, with an average of about three binge episodes per month and five drinks per episode. It is crucial to address this trend as women are at an increased risk of health problems related to alcohol misuse.

Consequences and Health Effects of Binge Drinking

Binge drinking can have severe consequences on both the individual and society as a whole. While any amount of alcohol consumption carries risks, crossing the threshold into binge drinking significantly increases the likelihood of acute harm. Some of the short-term risks include blackouts, overdoses, unsafe sexual behavior, sexually transmitted infections, unintentional pregnancy, falls, burns, drownings, and car crashes.

Alcohol affects various organs and systems in the body. Even a single episode of binge drinking can compromise the immune system's function and lead to acute pancreatitis in individuals with underlying pancreatic damage. Long-term alcohol misuse, including repeated episodes of binge drinking, can contribute to chronic diseases such as liver disease, heart disease, cancer (including head and neck, esophageal, liver, breast, and colorectal cancers), and neurological problems.

The consequences of binge drinking can be devastating and even deadly. Between 2015 and 2019, approximately 140,000 deaths in the United States were attributed to alcohol misuse, with almost half of those deaths associated with binge drinking. Additionally, binge drinking has significant economic costs, accounting for 77% of the $249 billion economic cost of alcohol misuse in 2010.

How Binge Drinking Affects Adolescents

Binge drinking during adolescence can have long-lasting effects on brain development. Research indicates that repeated episodes of binge drinking during the teen years can alter the trajectory of brain development and lead to lingering deficits in social, attention, memory, and other cognitive functions. It is crucial to address binge drinking among adolescents to mitigate the potential long-term consequences.

High-Intensity Drinking

High-intensity drinking is another dangerous pattern of alcohol consumption that involves consuming twice or more the gender-specific threshold for binge drinking. This means eight or more drinks for women and ten or more drinks for men on a single occasion. High-intensity drinking is most common among young adults attending college and is associated with an even greater risk of severe health and safety consequences.

While we have explored the definition, prevalence, and consequences of binge drinking, it is essential to understand the available treatment options for individuals struggling with this issue. Seeking appropriate help and support is crucial for overcoming binge drinking and regaining control over one's life.

Treatment Options for Binge Drinking

The treatment approach for binge drinking varies depending on the individual's specific needs and the severity of their binge drinking behavior. It is important to remember that seeking professional help is crucial for addressing binge drinking effectively. Here are some common treatment methods used for binge drinking:

1. Counseling and Therapy

Counseling and therapy play a vital role in helping individuals understand the underlying causes of their binge drinking behavior and develop healthier coping mechanisms. Different therapeutic approaches, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), individual therapy, group therapy, acceptance, and commitment therapy (ACT), and motivational enhancement therapy (MET), may be utilized to address the individual's unique needs.

2. Support Groups

Participating in support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or SMART Recovery, can provide valuable peer support and a sense of community for individuals struggling with binge drinking. These groups offer a safe space for individuals to share their experiences, receive encouragement, and learn from others who have successfully overcome similar challenges.


3. Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

In some cases, medication-assisted treatment may be recommended to help individuals manage their alcohol cravings and reduce the risk of relapse. Medications such as naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram can be prescribed under the supervision of a healthcare professional.

4. Holistic Therapies

Holistic therapies, such as yoga, mindfulness meditation, art therapy, and acupuncture, can complement traditional treatment approaches by promoting overall well-being and reducing stress levels. These therapies aim to address the individual's physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

5. Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Individuals with co-occurring mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, or trauma-related disorders, may benefit from dual diagnosis treatment. This approach addresses both the substance use disorder and the underlying mental health condition simultaneously, ensuring comprehensive care.

6. Lifestyle Changes and Self-Care

Making positive lifestyle changes and prioritizing self-care is crucial for individuals recovering from binge drinking. This may involve adopting a healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise, getting enough sleep, and finding healthy coping mechanisms to replace the urge to binge drink.

7. Ongoing Support and Aftercare

Recovery from binge drinking is an ongoing process, and individuals benefit from continued support and aftercare services. These may include regular check-ins with a therapist, attending support group meetings, engaging in alumni programs, and accessing resources for relapse prevention.

It is important to remember that everyone's journey to recovery is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Tailoring the treatment plan to the individual's specific needs and providing ongoing support is essential for long-term success.

Seeking Help for Binge Drinking

If you or someone you know is struggling with binge drinking, it is crucial to reach out for help. Recognizing the problem and taking the first step towards recovery is commendable. Here are some resources and options for seeking help:

1. Consult a Healthcare Professional

Start by consulting a healthcare professional who specializes in addiction medicine or mental health. They can provide an accurate diagnosis, assess the severity of the binge drinking behavior, and recommend appropriate treatment options.

2. Reach Out to Support Services

Contact helplines, such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357), to speak with a trained professional who can provide information, support, and local treatment resources.

3. Research Treatment Facilities

Research reputable treatment facilities that specialize in addiction treatment and have experience in addressing binge drinking. Consider factors such as location, treatment approach, and available services to find the best fit for your needs.

4. Involve Loved Ones

Binge drinking can have a significant impact on relationships. Involving loved ones in the recovery process can provide additional support and accountability. Consider attending family therapy sessions or involving family members in support group meetings.

Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, and recovery is possible with the right support and resources.


Understanding binge drinking is essential for addressing this prevalent issue and promoting healthier drinking habits. Binge drinking can have severe consequences on physical and mental health, as well as social and economic well-being. By recognizing the signs, seeking appropriate help, and adopting effective treatment strategies, individuals can overcome binge drinking and embark on a path to recovery. Remember, you are not alone, and support is available to help you or your loved ones overcome binge drinking and live a healthier, fulfilling life.

If you or someone you know is struggling with binge drinking, reach out for professional help and take the first step towards a brighter future.


NIAAA: Facts of Binge Drinking

CDC: Binge Drinking Information and Help

Gateway Foundation: Relationship Challenges with Alcohol

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