Binge drinking is a serious public health problem in the United States. It is the most common, costly and deadly form of excessive alcohol use in the country. In fact, one in six adults binge drinks about four times per month, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
By definition, binge drinking involves consuming five or more drinks in two hours for men or four or more drinks in two hours for women. Although the activity often is associated with college students, people of all ages engage in binge drinking.
Many people believe binge drinking is a harmless activity, but it can lead to violence, memory problems, alcohol addiction or heart disease. It can also result in drunk driving, unsafe sex, blackouts or alcohol poisoning.
Tips to Curb Binge Drinking
Problematic alcohol use, such as binge drinking, should be avoided. A number of steps can be taken to stop binge drinking.
Helpful steps to stop binge drinking include:
- Set a drinking goal:
- Try to set a limit to your drinking that meets physician-recommended guidelines. Generally, women of all ages and men who are 65 or older should consume no more than one standard drink per day. Men under 65 should drink no more than two standard drinks per day.
- Track your drinking patterns:
- It may be helpful to monitor how much you drink. Compare your drinking patterns with your drinking goal and make adjustments when needed.
- Drink slowly:
- Rather than quickly consuming alcohol, try sipping it. This could reduce your risk for drinking-related health problems. You can also try drinking a nonalcoholic beverage, such as soda or juice, in place of alcohol.
- Avoid peer pressure:
- Peer pressure can cause people to drink when they otherwise would not. Don’t let anyone pressure you into drinking, and don’t binge drink to fit in. Nobody should accept every drink offered to them.
- Stay busy:
- Engaging in hobbies is a good way to avoid drinking. Those who routinely binge drink could take walks, watch movies, play sports or find healthy new hobbies to occupy their time.
- Avoid temptations:
- Stay away from people and places that promote binge drinking. It’s also important to create a plan to limit your alcohol use during holidays, vacations and social functions.
- Enlist support:
- Seeking support from friends, family, physicians or mental health professionals may help you refrain from binge drinking. They may be able to offer valuable advice and encouragement.
- Seek treatment:
- Although most people who binge drink do not suffer from alcohol dependence, the activity can progress into alcoholism. If you have a binge drinking problem, seek help from an evidence-based rehab facility.
Persistence is important when taking steps to prevent binge drinking. Setbacks may occur, and you may slip into binge drinking on occasion. But avoiding the activity could help you steer clear of myriad physical and mental health problems.
Mindfulness Techniques Might Help Reduce College Binge Drinking
College is conducive to irresponsible drinking. About 32 percent of college students engage in binge drinking, according to the Monitoring the Future survey, an annual report funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
However, researchers at Ohio University found that mindfulness might reduce binge drinking among college students.
For the study, researchers recruited 76 college students who experienced a binge drinking episode in the previous two weeks. Half of the participants engaged in a mindfulness program that involved listening to guided meditations. They also learned mindfulness techniques to use when viewing tempting images of alcohol.
Over the next month, the mindfulness participants were asked to meditate on their own for an hour each week in addition to guided meditations. Conversely, participants who did not engage in mindfulness programs were told to control their urges when presented with images of alcohol.
After a month, students in the mindfulness program binge drank an average of 2.6 fewer times than did the other group. The students who practiced mindfulness did not experience consequences of drinking, such as violence or withdrawals, and they were more likely than the others to refuse alcohol when they had access to it.