What’s your drinking pattern? Is it healthy? While we drink for many reasons, most of us drink to get merry, but some drink to get drunk. Often. And this type of drinking – binge drinking – according to recent research, is possibly worse than drinking moderately every day. So, how to tell if you’re a binge drinker? Read on.
A 2005 government report described binge drinking as ‘the consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol within a limited time period’, or, ‘the consumption of twice the daily benchmark given in the Government’s guidelines’. While drinking alcohol in moderation helps us to relax and be sociable, binge drinking is generally about getting the alcohol down your neck in order to get drunk as quickly as possible. Or, perhaps being too sociable – 12hr drinking sessions, weekend benders that stop when Monday morning comes. These situations are commonplace in modern UK society, especially London. And whether you have the cash matters not. That only affects the quality of the drinks you neck.
Despite it being well-documented and easily accessible information, most of us have no idea what constitutes a unit. So, here it is again.
- Half a pint of beer or cider = 1.5 units;
- A small glass (125ml) of wine = 1.5 units;
- A single measure of spirits (e.g. whisky, vodka, rum or gin) = one unit.
So 6 pints of beer while you’re watching the Rugby? Binge drinking. 6 glasses of wine (a bottle and a half – easily done, even for us!) on a work night out or with a fabulous dinner? Binge drinking. A few chasers with your 3 pints? Yep, sorry but you’re binge drinking again.
So what are the very real, not over-exaggerated effects? Well, in extreme cases which have been reported about in the press, you could DIE. We are not kidding. Remember, alcohol is poison (toxin) and you are effectively poisoning your body with every drink you have.
According to Drinkaware, “overdosing on alcohol can stop you breathing or stop your heart, or you could choke on your vomit. Binge drinking can affect your mood and your memory and in the longer term can lead to serious mental health problems.”
But that’s not all. What about the horrors of flashbacks – the ridiculous things you did the night before you would never do while sober? Did you really try to climb that pole? Did you really take your bra off in that club? Did you really…
So. You’ve now realised you might have an issue and you want to sort it out. How do you do this when our cultural gatherings are very much based upon drinking? Think about it, weddings, funerals, after work drinks, ‘Thursday-is-the-new-Friday’ drinks, birthdays, engagements, meeting a friend = meet at the pub. Meeting for dinner = wine with food. First date = definitely need ‘Dutch courage’ beforehand and drinks to ease the uncomfortableness in between. We associate socialising with alcohol in this country and it’s a real challenge to separate the two.
How can we socialise happily without drinking? How can we moderate our drinking so we stop at the right limit? Most of us don’t even think about this. We like getting out of it. We drink, stagger home, fall into bed, wake up, eat a fry-up, have the ‘you did what’ morning-after-the-night-before’ calls with friends and continue with our lives, saying ‘never again’. Until the next time. For most of us, the fall-out is minimal. We can binge and still look as good as our mates do. But what happens if your binge drinking leads you into trouble, as it can so easily do? If waking up in The Hangover Part VIII, every weekend suddenly feels like you’ve entered the realms of living hell and you don’t know how to escape?
Meet Harry. Harry is a 24-year-old London boy who is going through exactly that. Fed up with waking up in bushes, at the bottom of the stairs, or in strangers beds, Harry decided he needed to get a grip on his binge-drinking lifestyle. So he started writing this insightful blog, Speakeasy. Having read it, Giving up drinking, even, moderating your drinking, in London of all places, must be one of the hardest things a young person can do. But it can be done. And he is proving it. More Fire, Harry.
If you think you might have an issue and you’d like some advice, help can be found, here.
And of you’d like to feel you’re not alone and gain inspiration on your journey to moderate drinking, Harry is here.
photo credit: Blisstree