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How to stop binge drinking

If you are concerned about the effect that alcohol is having on your life and want to discover how to stop binge drinking, it is recommended that you reach out for specialist support in order to get yourself back on track.

Making this initial step to find out how to stop binge drinking is highly commendable. While many heavy binge drinkers don’t recognise or believe that they have an issue, it can be incredibly harmful on your health, wellbeing, finances and relationships. By putting a stop to it now, you can prevent alcohol from continuing to be such a destructive force in your life.

Why do I binge drink?

People binge drink for a multitude of reasons, with some common causes being:

  • Social or societal pressure
  • Feeling nervous or anxious in social settings
  • Wanting to loosen inhibitions
  • Wanting to numb unhappy feelings
  • Attempting to distance themselves from stress, low mood and anxiety

People use binge drinking as an unhealthy coping strategy to try and manage their negative emotions. However, alcohol use only ever numbs or mutes these emotions in the short term, rather than helping the person to effectively deal with the root cause of these feelings.

The dangerous effects of binge drinking

Binge drinking consists of drinking more than eight units of alcohol in a single session for men, and more than six units of alcohol in a single session for women.

When someone is binge drinking, it can affect them in the following ways:

  • Reduced decision-making abilities and impaired judgement can result in the person being unable to evaluate risks and dangers effectively
  • A loss of self-control can cause the person to behave in ways they typically wouldn’t
  • When large quantities of alcohol are consumed quickly, this can cause a person to ‘black out’, where they are unable to recall details of events or even events in their entirety
  • Binge drinking can also cause a person to lose their balance and co-ordination

These effects can result in the person becoming a danger to both themselves and others, leaving all parties susceptible to injuries, accidents and even death.

When a person regularly binge drinks, this can cause long-term damage to their health. It can affect mood and memory, and leave a person experiencing mental health problems. Binge drinking can also increase the risk of brain damage, liver disease, stroke, heart problems, cancer and infertility.

People who binge drink are also more likely to become dependent on alcohol. Regular heavy drinking can increase a person’s tolerance to alcohol, which can lead to them needing to drink more to achieve their desired effects. An increased tolerance to alcohol can then result in a person becoming physically dependent, where they need to drink in order to function properly. 

How to stop binge drinking

Visit your GP

If you are worried about your drinking habits, book an appointment with your GP. While the idea of talking to someone about your binge drinking may be scary and even embarrassing, it is an important step to take.

Your GP will be there to support you. They will be able to provide you with advice on how to stop binge drinking and cut down on your alcohol consumption. They may also be able to recommend support groups and refer you for treatment.

Find a support group

If you are looking to stop binge drinking, it is important to know that you are not alone in your journey. It is recommended that you find a suitable support group in your area, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) where you can share your experiences, gain strength from others and receive ongoing support from your peers.  

Book an appointment for a free assessment

At Priory treatment centres, you can access a free assessment with a member of the addictions treatment team*. This conversation gives our team an opportunity to find out more about your circumstances and the severity of your drinking so that they can recommend the most effective form of treatment for you.

The free assessment also gives you the opportunity to talk to our team, learn more about Priory Group and ask questions.

Participate in specialist treatment

At Priory, we provide people with alcohol issues with either residential treatment, day care packages or outpatient treatment. When determining the right approach, the team will work with you to put together a personalised treatment plan. This will be based on your unique needs and circumstances to make sure that the care that you receive for your problem drinking will be as effective as possible.

With access to the correct treatment, you have the opportunity to recognise the reasons for your binge drinking and understand the ways in which you can change. The team will help you to better understand, resolve and manage any negative emotions that are causing you to binge drink. They can then provide ongoing support if necessary, ensuring that you have a helping hand as you leave alcohol behind.

*Individuals with dual diagnosis may need to be assessed by a consultant psychiatrist which is a chargeable appointment.

This page was reviewed by Claire Rimmer (BA (Hons), Dip.Psychology, FDAD (NCAC)), Lead Addiction Therapist at Priory Hospital Altrincham

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