Living With a Binge Drinker

Living With a Binge Drinker

Living with a binge drinker can difficult. Life becomes unpredictable. At times, it might even be scary. It can affect not only the individual who engages in binge drinking but also their loved ones, causing strain on relationships and overall well-being. In this article, we will delve into the topic of living with a binge drinker, exploring the causes of binge drinking, the difference between binge drinking and alcoholism, and strategies for dealing with this situation.

Understanding Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is defined as consuming alcohol in a pattern that produces a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically equates to about five drinks for men and four drinks for women within a span of approximately two hours (source). It is important to note that binge drinking is not limited to young adults or college students; individuals of all ages, including older adults, engage in this behavior (source).

According to statistics, one in every six adults in the United States binge drinks at least four times a month (source). Engaging in binge drinking at a young age increases the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder later in life (source). It is crucial to understand that binge drinking is distinct from alcoholism and requires a different approach to address the issue effectively.

Binge Drinking vs. Alcoholism: What's the Difference?

Binge drinking and alcoholism are both forms of excessive alcohol consumption, but they differ in several key aspects. Binge drinking refers to consuming large quantities of alcohol within a short period, resulting in a high BAC. On the other hand, alcoholism refers to an inability to control drinking behavior, increased tolerance for alcohol, and continued consumption despite adverse consequences (source).

While some binge drinkers may develop alcohol addiction, not all individuals who engage in binge drinking meet the criteria for alcoholism. Binge drinking can be episodic, occurring periodically, while alcoholism typically involves consistent and compulsive alcohol consumption (source).

Causes of Binge Drinking

Understanding the underlying causes of binge drinking is essential for addressing the issue effectively. People may engage in binge drinking due to various reasons, including peer pressure, social anxiety, or the desire to escape from negative emotions (source). Young individuals, in particular, may feel compelled to binge drink during events such as prom or sporting occasions (source).

Binge drinking can also be a form of self-medication, as individuals may turn to alcohol as a temporary solution to alleviate feelings of sadness, worry, fear, anger, or guilt (source). It is important to note that this coping mechanism is maladaptive and can lead to long-term negative consequences.

Living With a Binge Drinker: What To Do and What Not To Do?

Living with a binge drinker can be emotionally challenging, but there are strategies that can help you navigate this situation. It is crucial to approach the issue with empathy, understanding, and a focus on the well-being of both the binge drinker and yourself. Here are some key steps to take:

1. Open Communication

Initiate a conversation with your loved one about their drinking habits. Choose a time when they are sober and both of you are calm and focused. Find a quiet and private space where you won't be disturbed, and ensure there are no distractions. Express your concerns about their drinking and the impact it has on their health, your relationship, and the family as a whole (source).

It is important to approach the conversation without passing judgment or attempting to shame the individual. Instead, remain neutral and compassionate, emphasizing your desire to support them in seeking help. Keep in mind that you cannot force someone to quit drinking; the decision ultimately lies with them (source).

2. Offer Support and Resources

While you cannot make someone quit drinking, you can provide them with options for addressing their situation. Encourage your loved one to seek assistance from professionals such as doctors, therapists, or addiction specialists. Inform them about hotlines, treatment programs, and support groups that can provide guidance and support (source).

It is crucial to stress that you are there to support them throughout their journey to recovery. However, it is equally important to establish boundaries and prioritize your own well-being. Remember, you cannot control their decisions, but you can provide them with the resources and support they need to make positive changes.

3. Self-Care Is Key

Living with a binge drinker can take a toll on your mental and emotional well-being. It is essential to prioritize self-care and seek support for yourself. Reach out to trusted friends, join support groups, or consider seeking guidance from a therapist or coach who specializes in addiction and family dynamics (source).

Do not attempt to deal with the situation on your own. It is crucial to have someone you can openly and honestly communicate with about your concerns and challenges. Taking care of yourself will not only benefit your own well-being but also enable you to better support your loved one.

4. Establish Boundaries

Setting clear boundaries is crucial when living with a binge drinker. Clearly communicate your expectations regarding their drinking behavior and the impact it has on you and the family. It may be necessary to establish consequences if these boundaries are not respected (source).

While it is important to support your loved one, it is equally important to protect yourself and your family from the negative effects of their drinking. Establishing boundaries helps create a safe and stable environment for everyone involved.

Seeking Professional Help When Living with a Binge Drinker

In some cases, living with a binge drinker may require professional intervention. If the binge drinking continues to negatively impact your loved one's life and relationships, it may be necessary to seek help from healthcare professionals specializing in addiction and mental health (source).

A general practitioner (GP) can be a good starting point for obtaining a referral or guidance on available treatment options. They can assess your loved one's physical and mental health, provide appropriate referrals, and support the journey to recovery (source).


Living with a binge drinker can be a challenging and emotionally draining experience. It is important to understand the factors contributing to binge drinking and the difference between binge drinking and alcoholism. By approaching the issue with open communication, offering support and resources, prioritizing self-care, and establishing boundaries, you can navigate this challenging situation more effectively.

Remember, seeking professional help may be necessary in some cases. Do not hesitate to reach out to healthcare professionals for guidance and support. Ultimately, taking care of yourself and your own well-being is crucial in maintaining a healthy and balanced life while supporting your loved one on their journey to recovery.


Bayfront Health- 6 Tips to Stop Binge Drinking

Ria Health- How to Stop Binge Drinking: 7 Tips to Break the Habit

Delamere Health- Ultimate Guide on Helping you Stop Binge Drinking

The smarter way to stay accountable
Real-time group support and personalized feedback to help you overcome addiction — no matter how many times you’ve tried.
Learn Morean iphone with the text identify where boundaries may have slipped

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

relay logo

Get connected and stay accountable
with peers

Join a team

A better way to recovery, right in your pocket.

a cell phone with a text message on the screen