How to Help Someone With a Binge Drinking Problem

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that binge drinking is the deadliest form of excessive drinking in the United States. [1] If you’re reading this, you’ve taken a compassionate first step to help someone with a binge drinking problem.

Binge Drinking: What It Is and Why It’s So Dangerous

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, men binge drink if they consume five or more drinks within a couple of hours at least once a month. For women, it’s having four or more drinks in that time frame. [2] The CDC says that it results in around 2,200 preventable deaths by alcohol poisoning every year. [1]

Regular binge drinking often leads to alcoholism. Here are some other dangers that may occur as a result of binge drinking:

  • Car accidents, falls, and burns
  • Violence
  • Chronic diseases like hypertension, heart attack, stroke, and liver problems
  • Various cancers
  • Memory and learning problems
  • Risky behavior leading to sexually transmitted diseases or unintended pregnancy

How to Help Someone With Binge Drinking Problem

Having the right mindset is crucial when confronting your loved one about drinking. In fact, think of it as a loving discussion rather than a confrontation.

Familiarize yourself with the most effective language for this talk. [3] Choose a time when you and the other person are completely sober and emotions are not running high. Choose a quiet, private setting. Express your worries as neutrally as possible without sounding judgmental, and be a good listener. Make your loved one feel safe about opening up.

After giving them time and space to process the conversation, make an offer of support. That might be volunteering to sit with them as they call a helpline or rehab center.

Don’t take it personally if your loved one denies having a problem, laughs off your concern, gets defensive, or becomes angry — those are all common reactions. Don’t blame yourself if they refuse your help. You’re not responsible for their issues or poor decisions. Ask if they’d rather talk to another family member, a trusted teacher or coach, or someone in their faith community.

How to Help a Binge Drinker Without Enabling Them

Your greatest challenge is to find the perfect balance between help and enablement. It doesn’t come easy when you truly care for someone. But, you could do more harm than good if you don’t know the difference.

Enabling is distinguished in two ways: [4]

  1. It is doing something for someone that they could do and would do for themselves if they were sober.
  2. It is stepping in to shield someone from the consequences of their actions.

Cleaning the bathroom after your spouse gets sick following a binge is enabling. Lying to the school when your teenager has a hangover is enabling. Picking up the slack for a binge-drinking co-worker is enabling.

Enablers repeatedly bail family members out of legal or financial trouble. They mask their own pain and suffering so the binge drinker won’t feel guilty. Enabling never helps anyone. If they never truly suffer the consequences of their actions, binge drinkers usually get worse. They must be allowed to feel the impact of their behavior. It’s worth mentioning here that the greatest way to enable someone with a problem is to drink with them, especially if you pick up the tab.

Offering to occasionally drive someone to 12-step meetings after a license suspension is helping; they cannot drive themselves. Providing a job reference for someone who is in a program and staying sober is another example of helping.

No one ever said this was easy. It can feel overwhelming at times, but it’s highly rewarding when you direct someone to a path toward healing.

Getting Help at Ocean Hills Recovery

Your understanding and long-term support could prevent your loved one from spiraling further into addiction. We’re glad that you trust us to pick up where you left off.

Our caring, experienced staff has a proven track record of helping people recover and lead fulfilling lives. We offer comprehensive, personalized care.

If you would like more information on how to help someone stop drinking, give us a call today.



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