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What To Do If You Can’t Stop Binge Drinking

By Linda Whiteside

Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson

Table of Contents

Woman struggling with binge drinking seeks help from NuView Treatment Center in Los Angeles, CA

‍Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that involves consuming significant amounts of alcohol in a brief period of time. It’s not only common among young adults, but research shows that rates of binge drinking have increased over time. Many people consider it a harmless pastime; however, there are potential risks associated with it. Binge drinking can lead to numerous negative consequences and even addiction. If you can’t stop binge drinking, there are steps you can take to address the issue and help you get back on track. If this describes you, you might have an alcohol problem. Everyone has their occasional drink or two — but if your habits are drifting into unhealthy territory, maybe it’s time for some changes in your life.

What Is Binge Drinking?

The CDC considers binge drinking the most dangerous type of drinking. Binge drinking is defined as consuming a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time. How much is “a large amount”? It’s typically considered five or more drinks for men (or four for women) during a short period of time, most commonly a period of 2 to 3 hours. But regular binge drinking is more than just a single episode of heavy drinking. It’s a pattern of drinking that tends to get worse over time. Binge drinking is more common among people who are young and college-aged. Binge drinking has been linked to numerous negative health outcomes, including injury, mental health issues, and problems in relationships. Binge drinking can cause you to behave impulsively and do things you might not otherwise do. It can also lead to risky sexual encounters and unwanted pregnancies.

How To Stop Binge Drinking

You’ve probably heard that drinking too much alcohol can be unhealthy. However, you might not know that drinking in excess has been linked to an increased risk of certain diseases and premature death. Drinking too much alcohol can also have a variety of negative effects on your social life, work, and personal relationships. If you find that your drinking is becoming concerning or impacting your life in a negative way, you may need to take action to prevent further issues from developing.

Whether you fall into the high-risk category for developing alcoholism or just want to take precautions so that your social drinking does not become problematic, there are steps you can take if you feel like your drinking habits are getting out of hand. Binge drinking is one of the biggest red flags when it comes to alcohol abuse. If you can’t stop binge drinking, try to make use of these strategies:

  • Identify Your Triggers – Binge drinking is often a response to a specific situation or state of mind. Identify the triggers that prompt you to drink and you can better control yourself when they come up.
  • Build a Support System – Immediate and close relationships can help you stay on track and address your issues.
  • Practice Moderation – Some people believe that quitting drinking completely is the best way to stop binge drinking. Others find it helpful to drink in moderation, limiting the overall amount of alcohol they consume.
  • Avoid Isolation – Keep yourself in the company of others, so you have less time to be alone with your thoughts and desires to drink.
  • Build a Routine – Establish a regular schedule for your day, so you won’t have time to dwell on urges to drink.
  • Engage in Physical Activity – Exercise can help relieve stress and improve your mood.
  • Get Adequate Sleep – Sleep deprivation can increase your risk of depression and make you more susceptible to cravings.
  • Keep Your Hands Busy – If you have a habit of playing with your hands while you’re thinking, try using them to engage in a different activity.
  • Eat Well – Eating nutritious foods can help keep your energy and mood up, so you’re less likely to drink when you’re exhausted or feeling stressed.
  • Get Professional Treatment – If you’re struggling with a binge drinking problem, you might want to seek professional treatment. This could include therapy, group meetings, or therapy combined with medication.

Adverse Effects of Binge Drinking

  • Physical Health Problems – Binge drinkers are at increased risk for a wide range of serious health problems, including liver damage, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
  • Social and Emotional Problems – Binge drinking can lead to problems in relationships, problems at work, and legal issues. It can also lead to feelings of shame and regret.
  • Sexual Health Risks – Binge drinking during sexual encounters can increase the risk of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
  • Legal Risks – Binge drinking can increase the risk of numerous legal issues, including driving while intoxicated (DWI), underage drinking, and public disturbances.
  • Brain Function Risks – Binge drinking at younger ages — especially in adolescence — is associated with poorer cognitive performance, including verbal skills and visual-spatial skills, as well as attention and decision-making skills.
  • Risky Behaviors – Binge drinking can prompt people to do things they wouldn’t do otherwise, including risky sexual encounters and reckless driving.

Change Your Environment

Changing your environment is often easier said than done, but it can be one of the best strategies for reducing binge drinking. More often than not, binge drinking is caused by peer pressure. In fact, approximately 33% of college students binge drink each month, in part because the activity is so normalized. Below are some strategies for changing your environment and reducing this expectation. If these are not sufficient, an outpatient treatment center may be a good idea.

  • Limit Your Access to Alcohol – Make it harder for you to drink. Remove alcohol from your home, avoid bars and parties where alcohol is served, and avoid the company of people who tend to drink heavily.
  • Limit Access to Other Stimulants – Avoid other substances that might prompt you to drink, such as nicotine, caffeine, and other drugs.
  • Avoid Triggers – Avoid the activities, locations, and people that prompt you to drink.

Get Professional Help at NuView Treatment Center’s Outpatient Rehab

If you still can’t stop binge drinking, you may want to consider professional treatment. There are many types of treatment programs, including inpatient and outpatient rehab, therapy, self-help groups, and medication. The best program for you will depend on your individual needs and circumstances. Many people who want to stop binge drinking can benefit from professional treatment. If alcohol abuse is negatively impacting your life, you may want to consider getting help. Professional treatments can help you stop binge drinking, improve your overall health, and improve your relationships.

NuView Treatment Center is an outpatient program located in West Los Angeles. Our evidence-based program is designed to help people of all addiction severities. We offer a range of levels of care to meet the unique needs of a variety of clients, from college students to professionals with families. If you are concerned that you may have a problem – even if you’re not certain that you have an addiction – we can help you. Reach out today for a free and confidential consultation.

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Author

Written By: Linda Whiteside
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Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who has been providing mental health services for over 10 years.

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson
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Went to medical school at The George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

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