How to Stop Binge Drinking: The Treatment Options

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited : October 08, 
2020 
| 4 Sources

Effects of Binge Drinking



Binge drinking can lead to serious health issues.
Even occasional binge drinking can have negative health effects.



Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is the most costly, common, and deadly pattern of excessive alcohol use in the US, so many are looking for ways on how to stop binge drinking. You may be wondering how to stop binge drinking or you may be wondering if you even need to stop binge drinking, as long as you don’t do it very often. It’s important to understand that the effects of binge drinking can be very serious.

While binge drinking does not always lead to alcohol dependence and it doesn’t always cause the degree of liver damage that daily drinking can cause, it can still lead to numerous health problems.

If you binge drink, you need to learn how to stop binge drinking before you develop serious, possibly even life-threatening, problems.

What is Binge Drinking?

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as drinking enough alcohol in a two hour period that your blood alcohol concentration level reaches 0.08g/dL or above.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which conducts the yearly National Survey on Drug Use and Health, defines binge drinking as consuming five or more alcoholic beverages for males or four or more alcoholic beverages for females on the same occasion on at least one day during the past month.

The more often you engage in binge drinking, the greater your risk of developing serious negative effects related to your drinking; however, problems such as alcohol poisoning can occur even if you only do it once.

Who Binge Drinks?

  • One in six adults in the United States binge drinks approximately four times a month, drinking about seven alcoholic beverages per binge. This leads to 17 billion total binge drinks ingested by US adults yearly, or an average of 467 binge drinks per binge drinker.
  • About 10-15 percent of the population is alcohol dependent.
  • Binge drinking is most common in younger adults aged 18–34 years old, but even more than half of the total binge drinks are ingested by those aged 35 years and above.
  • Binge drinking is twice as common among men than among women. Approximately our in five total binge beverages are drunk by men.
  • Binge drinking is more common among individuals with household incomes of $75,000 and above and higher educational levels. Binge drinkers with lesser incomes and lower educational levels, however, drink more alcoholic beverages per year.
  • Over 90% of adults in the United States who excessively drink report binge drinking in the past thirty days.
  • Most people younger than age 21 who consume alcohol report binge drinking, usually drinking heavy amounts.


Effects of Binge Drinking

Some possible effects of binge drinking include:

  • Alcohol poisoning
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Heart problems
  • Liver disease
  • Poor control of diabetes in diabetic drinkers
  • Development of type 2 diabetes in people that previously were not diabetic, due to changes in how the brain processes glucose
  • Neurological damage, including shrinking of the brain, leading to learning difficulties and memory problems
  • Unintended pregnancy
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Complications of pregnancy and childbirth, if you binge drink during pregnancy, including the presence of fetal alcohol syndrome in your baby
  • Accidental injuries (including injuries from falling, cash accidents, and drownings)
  • Injuries from things like sexual assault, domestic violence, and firearms

Binge drinking adds significantly to health issues, sexual assaults, violence, and accidental deaths. The longer you continue to binge drink, the greater the likelihood of health problems and other negative effects of binge drinking. However, problems can occur even if you rarely engage in binge drinking. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about how binge drinking may be affecting your health.

For Help Learning How to Stop Binge Drinking

Treatment methods commonly used to treat alcoholism aren’t always effective against binge drinking. People that binge drink may still need help to stop, however.

A recent study on how to stop binge drinking conducted at the University of Adelaide in South Australia found a new form of therapy called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to be effective for binge drinking, though this form of therapy may not yet be available everywhere. 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) helps people identify thoughts and feelings that lead them to act in ways that conflict with their values. For instance, people may value their families, but still experience urges to binge drink even though their drinking causes arguments or other problems within their families.

ACT helps them align their values and their behaviors, even when they experience conflicting thoughts or emotions. It also helps them commit to changing behaviors that conflict with their values.

As per the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy entails understanding the notion that trying to change difficult feelings and thoughts as a way of coping could be counter-productive, but powerful alternatives are now available, including mindfulness, cognitive delusion, acceptance, values, as well as committed action.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, while effective, is not the only type of treatment that helps people stop binge drinking. If you’re seeking treatment for binge drinking, ask your doctor or counselor what type of treatment he or she recommends for you.

Treatment providers often recommend a combination of individual and group counseling, self-help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, family therapy, and medications to treat any underlying depression or anxiety .Talk to your treatment provider if you’re interested in trying Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, as well.




Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 


Hello!

I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More



Sources:  

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Drinking Levels Defined. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/moderate-binge-drinking

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Binge Drinking. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm

Psychology Today. The Neuroscience of Binge Drinking. April 30, 2016. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201604/the-neuroscience-binge-drinking

NCBI. Toward the prevention of alcohol use disorders: Overdrinking (unintentional binge drinking) in a community sample. August 23, 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6108020/

Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: A Path for Moving through Anxious or Unwanted Thoughts. https://www.hazeldenbettyford.org/treatment/mental-health-services/acceptance-commitment-therapy


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