After a one-day hiatus, I want to return to the question of how binge drinking is treated. And what better way to find out than going directly to the ‘Stop Drinking Expert’ whose website header ensures me that ‘I know how to stop binge drinking’. That is comforting.
I guess the Binge Expert is from down under because his quite interesting data refers mostly to Australia. Defining binge drinking as 5 drinks in up to three hours for men and 4 for women (usually binging is defined as the same amount of drinks but consumed in 2 hours), the Binge Expert tells us that a third of all Australian females and 42 percent of males admit to binge drinking. And, just to make it clear, you are considered a binger even if you “lose control just once a month and are sober as a judge the rest of the time”.
So, how to stop binging then? According to clinical psychologist and binge drinking councillor Ian Cohen (who is cited by the Binge Expert), the first challenge is to recognise ‘binge triggers’. What makes you start binging? “Those salty chips? Or the buzz of that trendy bar?”. Interestingly, a recent study from Spain has shown that even loud music may operate as a binge trigger by urging us to drink more. And if you are not sure what the triggers might be, Cohen suggests to keep an alcohol consumption journal noting when, where, what and with whom you last consumed alcohol. I actually that is a really good idea. I kind of know when and where I have been binging but I would have loved to have a journal of all the binges I have been on, say, during the last five years. I really feel that it would be The Book of Shame.
And then it is advisable to meet for a coffee rather than a drink. The better the lifestyle, the more likely you are not to over-indulge. Another study has apparently shown that stressed-out employees and smokers drink more than other people. That is really not that surprising, I think.
In conclusion, Cohen emphasises that excessive alcohol consumption can only be properly dealt with by dealing with the underlying causes: “You may have depression or anxiousness, so what’s required is a very good evaluation of your issues and after that help to establish a tactic to cease the binge drinking.”
These are relevant suggestions, I think, but I also feel that the approach is too much like a quick-fix: Talk to a consultant, drink coffee and voila! But maybe the problem with binge drinking is that it has this vague status of being both socially accepted and, still, also being a considerable problem for some binge drinkers. It has a few of the characteristics of alcoholism but it is still far from having as detrimental. And therefore it is treated as a kind of ‘alcoholism light’, which should be much easier to cure. Maybe it is. I am about 1,5 month into my new life as Morten-the-Sober-One and abstinence from drinking alcohol is really not a problem at all. Quite a few related issues are. But not the abstinence by itself.