Recent headliners proclaimed that British women are among the global leaders in binge-drinking. As the festive season approaches, I spoke to Stylist magazine all about binge-drinking. Click here for the full article. It asks whether binge-drinking has been normalised in our culture, and we took a look at understanding binge-drinking. What causes it, why it is bad for us, and how we can make a change.
Binge drinking is all about drinking to excess, but not all of the time. A binge drinker might drink moderately, or not at all, between binges. We might assume that a binge would always be accompanied by a big night out or a social event. But that assumption doesn’t always ring true. Many binge drinkers will drink to excess quietly and on their own, in the privacy of their own home.
We tend to recognise binge drinking as when there are specific occasions when someone is drinking to get drunk. Sometimes the signs and symptoms are very public. We might notice someone who is louder than usual, drinking faster than usual, perhaps staying out longer and later than usual. Then the day after we might commiserate with them on their hangover, and perhaps their protestations that they don’t plan to do it again. But for some people, it’s a purely private affair. They might go to great lengths to hide their behaviour, to squirrel away empty bottles and mask a hangover.
Binge drinking is often, in some way, a coping strategy. So the key element to remember, is that the act of binge drinking is unlikely to be making it easier to handle life’s difficulties. Perhaps we are feeling anxious, depressed, scared, or worried, and we turn to binge drinking to make these feelings go away. The reality is that these feelings remain, and fester, and sometimes worsen with the onset of ‘hangxiety’.
By its nature, binge drinking is something that is generally out of the ordinary for us. This means that it can make us act and respond in ways that seem out of character or unpredictable. This can have a negative impact on our relationships with those around us, as they might struggle to cope with how we present ourselves when we have been drinking.
The first step is to recognise that our drinking is causing a problem, and to notice that perhaps we are turning to binge drinking as a way of coping with life’s difficulties. Then it’s a two-pronged attack. Try to figure out what you need in order to curtail your drinking. It might mean abstinence, or a support programme, or it might mean setting limits and sticking to them. The other half of the coin is to figure out what lies beneath the binges. What are you trying to cope with, or forget, or ignore. And to wonder whether you can face up to your fears or worries, or seek support to do so.
Keen to explore more? In counselling we can take a deeper look at how you feel about yourself, how you behave, and your coping strategies. Click here to contact me, or click here to book a 30-minute introductory call.