Counselling in Perth
How can counselling help me with my binge drinking?
Alcohol is one of the most widely used substances in Australia and is often freely available across social situations. Not only is it available in pubs, restaurants and people’s homes, there is also alcohol served at the theatre, the cinema, and festivals. Because it is so easily accessible and is a normal part of many lives, it is often not thought of as a drug which can have serious short-term consequences and damaging long-term effects.
Results from a study examining alcohol-related behaviours in households reported that “In 2007, the majority of Australians aged 14 years of older had consumed alcohol”1 and that 8.6% of Australians were consuming alcohol at a level considered either risky or high risk, and was likely to cause both short- and long-term harm1.
Binge drinking is commonly understood as drinking an excessive amount of alcohol over a short period of time, often with the intention of getting drunk.
Short-term effects include:
- memory loss
- risky behaviours such as driving while drunk, unprotected sex, taking other drugs
- inappropriate behaviour such as urinating in public, speaking or behaving in an offensive manner towards others
- falls and accidents
- violence and aggression
- shame and/or embarrassment
- loss of friendships
- poor sleep quality
- absenteeism (school and work)
We can think of more long-term effects as the four L’s:
Alcohol negatively affects our overall physical health, not just the liver. The brain systems start being affected within a few minutes of your first drink. The stomach lining and small intestine become inflamed because it is struggling to absorb excessive amounts of alcohol and may cause vomiting. Your kidneys struggle to reabsorb the excess liquid so that the bladder can do its job properly, and the liver cannot metabolise the alcohol (toxin) fast enough.
In the long-term, it is likely that if you drink alcohol your relationships with others will change. If you are caught up in a cycle of drinking, your partner may start to experience the effects of your alcohol-related behaviours - hangovers, irritability, anger, lack of sleep, mood, low motivation, associated physical health problems, and lack of ability to perform sexually.
Alcohol misuse has many costs, and not just financial. You may lose your job, resulting in an inability to pay your rent or mortgage, and become homeless. Imagine how this may impact on your mental health and self-esteem.
And finally, you may end up in trouble with the law. It may be something as simple as a charge of “urinating in a public place” or something more serious such as “grievous bodily harm”. The result is that you now have a police record which may hamper employment opportunities or even obtaining an entry visa to a foreign country in the future. You may also lose your drivers license through driving whilst drunk. You may even injure or kill someone.
Some Tips for Reducing Your Alcohol Intake or Binge Drinking
1. Deliberately avoid situations where the intention is to binge or get drunk.
2. Know your own triggers for excessive drinking – parties, peer pressure, drinking games etc.
3. Understand the short- and long-term effects of drinking at levels that are considered risky.
4. Know how much a standard drink is. For example, one glass of wine or beer is often NOT one standard drink.
5. Finish your drink completely before refilling your glass so that you can keep an eye on the amount you are drinking.
6. Allocate “alcohol-free” days, and stick to them. Volunteer to be the designated driver if you are invited out on one of your alcohol-free days.
7. See if you can get support from at least one of your friends so that you can stick to your limit more easily.
8. Alternate a glass of water with one alcoholic drink. This will slow you down, keep you hydrated, and halve the amount of alcohol going into your body.
There are many reasons why people binge drink and counselling can help you to understand the reasons behind your drinking and work with you on strategies to reduce or eliminate your alcohol intake. This will have an impact on your functioning both in the short-term and the long-term.
Also see the article on Alcohol and Substance Misuse, Abuse and Addiction
1. Australian Institute for Health and Welfare, Canberra (2008). 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey. Detailed Findings. Cat. No. PHE 107.
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