Treatment for Binge Drinking

Last Updated: April 11, 2023

Editorial Policy | Research Policy

If your binge drinking problem has gotten out of control, seeking treatment for binge drinking can help you reduce the negative influence of alcohol in your life.

Binge drinking is relatively common, so people may think this behavior is harmless. In fact, 25.8% of American adults engage in binge drinking in a given month, according to a report from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. While binge drinking is a regular practice, it does not mean it is safe and can have serious consequences. If you’re looking for information on how to stop binge drinking, helpful resources are available.  

What Is Binge Drinking?

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a man consuming five or more drinks at once or a woman consuming four or more drinks on one occasion. This is a level of drinking that exceeds “drinking in moderation” and brings the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to .08% or above. 

Signs Your Binge Drinking Is Getting Out of Control

Binge drinking doesn’t mean someone has an alcohol addiction. However, regular binge drinking increases the risk that someone will develop an alcohol use disorder, which is the clinical term for alcohol addiction. 

Signs that a binge drinking problem is out of control include:

  • Heavy alcohol use or binge drinking five or more times over a month
  • Experiencing negative consequences from binge drinking, such as accidents or injuries from risky behavior while intoxicated 
  • Frequently spending time with others who binge drink and most social functions involve drinking to the point of intoxication.
  • Binge drinking as a coping mechanism for stress, anxiety or depression
  • Difficulty cutting back on drinking or losing control over the amount of alcohol consumed suggests you may be developing an alcohol use disorder. 

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When Is Rehab Necessary?

Since binge drinking is so normalized, it may be difficult to determine when it’s time to seek help. Even if others around you are drinking socially, binge drinking becomes a problem when it’s interfering with your relationships and/or functioning in important areas of life, such as school or work. If you’re experiencing negative consequences from drinking and cannot stop on your own, it’s probably time to seek treatment.

Signs may develop showing that binge drinking is becoming an alcohol use disorder. Signs that you would benefit from professional treatment include:

  • You’ve developed a high tolerance for alcohol and need large quantities to achieve the same desired effects from drinking.
  • You experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, like shakiness, nausea or sweating, when not drinking.
  • You end up drinking larger amounts than you intend to consume.
  • You have extreme alcohol cravings throughout the day. 
  • You continue to drink, even when it worsens your health problems.
  • You drink in dangerous situations, such as driving under the influence.
  • You have arguments with your spouse or significant other about your alcohol consumption but continue to drink anyway.
  • You’re giving up other activities in favor of drinking and spending significant time drinking or recovering from being drunk.
  • You cannot function at work or care for your family because of alcohol consumption. 
  • You’ve tried to stop or cut back on your drinking but have been unsuccessful. 

Treatment for Binge Drinking

Several treatment options and skilled professionals are available if you cannot stop binge drinking. The first thing to consider is whether you’d like to try to moderate your drinking levels or abstain completely. 

If binge drinking is becoming a problem, but your symptoms do not rise to the level of an alcohol use disorder, you may be able to make a conscious effort to cut back to a moderate level of drinking, defined as up to two drinks daily for men or one drink per day for women. If drinking in moderation is a suitable option for you, a counselor or therapist can work with you to help you set drinking goals. This means you must track your drinking habits and self-assess whether you are meeting your goals. 

Drinking in moderation will require you to establish a goal for the maximum number of drinks allowed per week and per day. You may set a goal to have a certain number of abstinent days per week. A therapist can teach you behavioral strategies like substituting other drinks for alcohol or having a glass of water between drinks to help you stick to your moderate drinking goals. 

While some people can successfully reduce binge drinking to a more moderate level, those with an alcohol use disorder will likely require a formal treatment program that helps them abstain from drinking altogether. Rehab programs for drinking can be inpatient, where people live on-site at a facility while undergoing treatment. A rehab program can also provide outpatient care so patients can live at home while reporting to a treatment center for appointments. Regardless of the level of care, treatment for an alcohol use disorder typically involves behavioral treatments like counseling. People may also take medications to help with cravings and participate in support groups.

Treatment for a severe alcohol use disorder should begin with a medical detox program to help manage withdrawal symptoms. In some cases, alcohol withdrawal can be potentially fatal, so it’s important to always consult a doctor before detoxing from alcohol. Staff in a medical detox program can monitor withdrawal symptoms and provide medication to treat severe side effects. 

If you’re looking for binge drinking counseling, Orlando Recovery Center has a range of alcohol rehab options. We offer comprehensive alcohol treatment services, including outpatient programming for those who must continue living at home while attending treatment. For those with more intensive needs, we have an inpatient rehab and a medical detox program to support you through withdrawal.

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