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What is binge drinking?

Binge drinking is typically defined as drinking lots of alcohol in a short period of time or drinking with the intention of getting drunk. 

People will often associate binge drinking with college and university students but anyone can binge drink. If you feel unable to stop drinking, have gaps in your memory whilst drinking or engage in risky activities (such as drink driving or having unprotected sex) whilst under the influence of alcohol then you could have a binge drinking habit. 

How much alcohol is considered binge drinking? 

According to the NHS, binge drinking in the UK is considered to be eight units or more of alcohol in a single session for men and six units in a single session for women. That said, adults’ tolerance of alcohol can vary from person to person so what is considered binge drinking may differ slightly depending on your tolerance level. 

How quickly you drink alcohol can also influence the effect it can have on your body, including affecting your sense of judgement. 

What problems can binge drinking lead to?

Binge drinking is associated with many accidents and health issues and can be just as dangerous as consistent heavy alcohol use. Not only is drinking an expensive habit, it can also cause you to lose control in a situation and lead to physical and mental health issues. Here are just some problems binge drinking can lead to:

  • Alcohol poisoning
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attacks
  • Liver disease
  • Strokes 
  • Poor memory and thinking less clearly 
  • Some cancers 
  • Issues relating to diabetes 
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) - this is a condition which is caused by exposure to alcohol in the womb

How to stop binge drinking

Cutting down on alcohol can be difficult, especially if you feel reliant on it. We’ve put together a few tips on how to stop binge drinking so you can start to lead a healthier and safer lifestyle:

1. Try to understand why you binge drink

Do you drink high amounts of alcohol in short periods of time as a way to gain confidence? Does it reduce your stress levels or are you simply doing it because you enjoy it? When you recognise what it is that’s causing you to drink you can start to learn healthier ways to manage your feelings and behaviours. Whilst many people associate binge drinking with having a “good time”, the positive feelings are temporary and drinking can actually have a negative effect on us in the long run. Check out our blog ‘Does alcohol increase anxiety and depression?’ to find out more on drinking’s impact on our mental health. It can also help to reach out to a therapist or support group to help you understand what drives your drinking behaviours. 

2. Consider why you want to stop binge drinking

Make a note of all the reasons why you want to stop binge drinking or cut out alcohol from your life completely. Some reasons you might choose to stop binge drinking include:

  • You’re concerned about your health
  • You’re worried about the effects binge drinking has on your family
  • You cannot afford to maintain your drinking habits
  • You want to avoid having an accident, endangering yourself or others

These are just a few examples but try to dig deep to pinpoint exactly what’s led you to reconsider your drinking.

Once you’ve acknowledged your reasons for cutting down on your alcohol intake, you can start to make a plan of action to make some changes. You may also find it helpful to keep a diary and log your drinking and emotions so you have this to refer back to.  

3. Change your environment

Places, people and certain events can trigger your binge drinking habits. If you know that a certain bar will make you feel the need to drink a lot, it’s best to avoid it. Equally, if you’re invited to a party that you know will involve drinking games, you should consider whether attending is a good idea. Drinking games are notorious for encouraging binge drinking and what might seem like a bit of fun could leave you feeling out of control. 

Why not take a look at our blog on how to drink less and still have fun to get some ideas of how to spend your free time without alcohol? 

4. Keep drinking plenty of water

Alcohol is not a good thirst quencher. If you’re thirsty, opt for a glass of water and try to keep water on the table as you drink so that you’re better hydrated. 

5. Seek support

You can always confide in someone you trust such as friends or family members but if you are struggling you should consider speaking to a professional for advice and support. For instance, here at LiveWell Dorset our team is highly experienced in helping people to cut down on their drinking and can guide you to help you achieve your personal goals to drink less

6. Spend less time in pubs and clubs

The longer you spend in an environment surrounded by alcohol, the more tempted you could be to keep drinking. Try and set yourself a curfew to prevent yourself from drinking too much but make sure you avoid seeing this time as a ‘deadline’ to get the drinks in - as mentioned, drinking too quickly is just as harmful as drinking too much. 

7. Surround yourself with non-drinkers

If you tend to binge drink whilst spending time with a certain crowd, why not try and spend some time with your non-drinking friends and family? Trying to cut down on drinking whilst in the presence of others who are enjoying alcohol or even encouraging you to drink more makes the process a whole lot harder. If a lot of people in your current social circles drink, you could join a sobriety club on social media or attend non-alcohol events where you can meet others who are going through a similar experience to yourself. 

8. Track your alcohol consumption 

If you often binge drink, you may not actually be aware of the number of units you’re consuming - especially if you suffer memory loss after drinking sessions. Try to track your alcohol intake if you can or download the handy ‘One You’ app developed by the NHS which allows you to monitor your drinking behaviour and receive reminders and support. 

9. Let others know that you’re trying to avoid binge drinking

Letting others know you’re struggling with your relationship with alcohol can be daunting, but having an open and honest conversation with the ones you love could actually help you on your journey to drinking less; you never know...they may want to join you in stopping binge drinking. 

10. Pace yourself

Drinking too quickly is a common issue with binge drinking as you’re consuming more alcohol in less time. If you must drink, try to pace yourself with smaller sips or dilute your beverages (for example, you could add some lemonade to a glass of white wine). If you’re in an environment where there are other activities to engage with, try to take breaks from drinking by focusing your attention on something else (for example, you could play a round of pool with a friend). 

Looking for support to help you drink less? 

If you live in Dorset and you’re looking for support to help you stop binge drinking and cut down on your alcohol intake, we’re here to help! You can register or talk to our friendly team today to help guide you on your journey to drinking less alcohol. You can also take our Rethink your Drink quiz to learn more about your relationship with alcohol. 


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How does this work?

The tailored approach LiveWell Dorset uses to come up with solutions to the things that are stopping us achieving our goals, is based upon work done by University College London developing the COM-B model of behaviour change. In this model, all behaviour is influenced by understanding a person’s capability to change, their opportunity to change and their motivation to change. By understanding which of these is the biggest barrier to change, we can tailor support accordingly. This model of behaviour change is at the centre of the support we offer, online and in person.

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