Binge drinking is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as “a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol content to 0.08. Usually taking 4 drinks for women, and 5 drinks for men.” However, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) defines binge drinking as having “5 or more alcoholic drinks on the same occasion for 5 or more days in the past 30 days.” Either way, it is the consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol in a short period of time, and can have detrimental effects.
Binge drinking is most common among young adults ages 18-34; 18-25 is considered college level, and college students are considered the most vulnerable victims to binge drinking as a result of their new, free lifestyle. Many students get to school and expect nothing, but a good time, never taking the time to calculate the risks of their actions. This has proven to be their ultimate downfall.
The Consequences of Binge Drinking
In a survey conducted by Harvard University between their students, 62% of admitted binge drinkers confessed to doing something while intoxicated that they later regretted. 42% admitted to having unplanned sexual activity, 22% unintentionally had unprotected sex, and 69% confessed to drunk driving. This behavior also caused some student’s productivity at school to decrease; 62% admitted to missing classes, and 46% fell behind on their work which is not a minor consequence when dealing with a college workload.
Binge drinking has been proven to lead to all sorts of consequences, some short term like a fall or a nonfatal car crash, but others can be long term and life-altering such as contracting an STD, liver disease, or neurological damage. Drinking has also been linked to aggressive behavior, and is the leading cause of violent acts such as sexual assault and domestic violence.
Many people believe that by lowering their heavy or binge drinking habits to just moderate drinking (1 drink for women, 2 drinks for men per day) that they will eliminate their problem, but that isn’t the way addiction works. One drink usually leads to another, so it’s best to eliminate the alcohol altogether. Yes, it is easier said than done, but far from impossible.
Seeking Treatment for Alcohol Abuse
One of the hardest things to do when dealing with a binge drinking problem is admitting to yourself and those you love that you do indeed have a problem, but it’s always the first step. The second step would be to seek treatment, and the safest way to go about this is by seeking inpatient treatment. This is usually very hard for people dealing with addiction because they immediately believe they will be closed in, alone and shut off from the world, when it is actually the complete opposite. Inpatient care offers a lot to recovering addicts such as:
- A safe and secure vicinity
- The time to focus solely on treatment
- Removal from stressful circumstances that may promote the urge to use
- Emotionally supportive staff and peers
Inpatient treatment facilities have tremendously high success rates, and patients are a lot less likely to relapse with this form of treatment than they would with outpatient care. During your time there, you will be opened up to a new world of understanding, consolation and patience, and every form of treatment will be available to you.
A very popular and successful treatment that many inpatient programs offer is cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a treatment that explores the conflict between cognition (perceptions, thoughts, and emotions) and behavioral studies. A person dealing with addiction may genuinely want to quit, but compulsive behaviors make it more difficult for them. With cognitive behavioral therapy the patient would record their thoughts and related feelings, moments that trigger those thoughts and feelings, and the behavior they carried out as a result.
Only then can they move forward and begin working on changing the involuntary actions that stop them from changing their behavioral patterns. Studies related to this treatment show that addiction is associated with exaggerated thoughts and adverse feelings; therefore, by understanding your triggers, you learn how to deal with them and can progress on your road to recovery.
6 Rules for Maintaining Abstinence
Once the treatment is complete, and a patient is out on their own again, it can be pretty scary trying to move forward with no one holding your hand. Here are 6 golden rules for maintaining abstinence when the treatment is over:
- Get regular exercise
- Eat a balanced diet
- Clarify your values and priorities with yourself
- Associate with healthy, positive people. Don’t isolate yourself.
- Get as much sleep as you need
- If you feel the urge to drink, call someone you trust
If you have started binge drinking or if you know you have a problem with abusing alcohol, please don’t wait to ask for help. Contact an inpatient drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility and receive the help you need to recover your healthy and happy life.