More than nine out of every 10 drinks consumed by Americans under the age of 21 is during a binge, and college students are especially likely to drink alcohol in binges. Binge drinking can lead to accidental injuries, alcohol poisoning and, over time, problems such as liver disease. The first step to avoiding these consequences is telling yourself “I want to stop binge drinking,” but if you’re a millennial fresh out of college, how do you actually achieve your goal? Here are five key tips.
1 — Drink More Slowly
Binge drinking is when you drink four (for women) or five (for men) standard-size drinks in a short period of time, so drinking more slowly can help you avoid binging. The best tip is to alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks to ensure you only have one alcoholic drink per hour. You should also avoid participating in drinking games.
2 — Combat Peer Pressure
If it means drinking heavily, succumbing to peer pressure can have more consequences than it’s worth. It may sound dorky, but practicing saying “No thank you,” firmly and clearly (and you should practice saying it out loud!) can help you prepare for when you’re offered a drink you don’t need. You might also find it useful to avoid hanging out with heavy-drinking friends.
3 — Avoid Alcopops and Energy Drinks
“Alcopops” are alcoholic drinks that are loaded with so much sugar you don’t think you’re drinking alcohol at all. You can end up on a binge before you know it. If you’ve told yourself “I want to stop binge drinking,” avoiding these drinks is one of the best strategies for millennials. Mixing alcohol with energy drinks has a similar effect, so it’s best to avoid doing this too.
4 — Put the Focus on Something Other Than Alcohol
Whether it means turning a trip to the bar into a trip to the cinema or just encouraging your friends to dance or shoot some pool when you’re at the bar, anything you can do to take the focus away from alcohol will help you (and your friends) drink less quickly.
5 — Keep Track of Your Drinking and Set Goals
Using a journal to track how much you drink can help encourage you to leave your binge drinking college days behind you. When you see how much you drink on an average night, you’ll be more conscious of curtailing your drinking in future. Setting yourself a goal — such as “I want to stop binge drinking, so I’ll limit myself to three drinks tonight” — can also be a useful technique for regaining control.
If you’ve told yourself “I want to stop binge drinking” and have tried to implement tips like these in your life without success, you should consider attending binge drinking counseling or other treatment. It may seem like an extreme step to take, but binging is often the starting point on the road to addiction, so stopping it before it’s too late should be a priority. Sources “Fact Sheets – Binge Drinking” – CDC https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm “11 ways to curb your drinking” – Harvard Medical School http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/11-ways-to-curb-your-drinking “Binge drinking” – NHS Choices http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/alcohol/Pages/Bingedrinking.aspx