Most of us like to have a drink every now and then. It’s a great way to socialize and break the ice, or to relieve some stress and enjoy oneself at home. However, mindful drinking and binge drinking are not as far apart as one might think. Alcohol Use Disorders (AUDs) are on the rise, and excessive drinking is one of their clearest signs. If you’ve seen this in yourself, you may want to temper binge drinking and start your recovery in WV – but where do you begin?
At Harmony Ridge Recovery, we’ve seen endless journeys to recovery from AUDs. Our experience with drug and alcohol rehab in West Virginia has consistently shown that there are many ways to reach the final goal. So, here we’d like to share 15 tactics to help temper your drinking, in line with our experiences.
How Harmful Is Binge Drinking?
First, we should briefly contextualize just how harmful binge drinking can be. You may feel it’s risky behavior, and you’d be right, but here we may put this into perspective.
- Physical health problems and risks of injury. First, the CDC warns that binge drinking can introduce risks of unintentional injuries, such as motor vehicle crashes and alcohol poisoning. In addition, it notes memory problems, chronic diseases, and cancer as other possible risks.
- Psychological harm, aggression, and domestic violence. Next, Verywellmind echoes CDC advice on the psychological implications of binge drinking. It notes that alcohol can push those with trait anger and sensation-seeking personalities to aggression, leading to violence.
- The likelihood of developing an AUD. Finally, WebMD notes that binge drinkers are far more likely to develop AUDs. This is particularly true for teenage binge drinkers, but applies to all ages. While most binge drinkers don’t have AUDs, science concludes they run far higher risks of developing addiction.
So, especially if you’ve noticed such effects on you, binge drinking is indeed a substantial risk factor.
Alcohol Treatment Programs Once You Temper Binge Drinking And Start Your Recovery in WV
With that in mind, tempering binge drinking is the first step toward a successful recovery from AUDs or heavy drinking. It may be a simple enough step, but all alcohol rehab centers in WV and beyond will welcome it as an additional asset toward recovery.
So, before delving into tactics to help you do so, here we may briefly outline AUD programs you may consider. In order, the typical rehabilitation progress looks as follows:
- The first step for all but the mildest cases, medical detox is often a necessity. With medical assistance as necessary, this phase allows the body to flush out toxins and begin to recover.
- Inpatient programs. The next phase for those in need of clinical care, inpatient drug rehab in WV entails clinical services in designated facilities. This phase addresses pharmacological needs, identifies underlying conditions, and offers a safe environment away from addiction triggers.
- Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs). An optional step-down service, many may next consider a partial hospitalization program West Virginia treatment providers offer. This phase continues to offer some clinical services, but allows the individual to stay at home and focus on therapy.
- Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs). The preferred variant of Outpatient programs (OPs) for most cases, IOPs continue with a strong focus on individual and group therapy. The typical intensive outpatient program West Virginia providers suggest will entail weekly therapy sessions, psychiatric follow-ups as needed, and more.
- Sober living homes. Finally, rehab programs will often conclude with sober living WV These allow the individual to live with their peers in designated houses, socializing and cementing their recovery.
Every journey will differ, of course, and yours might too. This is, however, the typical journey structure you may expect as you begin your efforts.
How To Temper Binge Drinking and Start Your Recovery in WV
Now, different people have different relations with alcohol. They drink for different reasons, and have different triggers and different support networks around them. Each case of binge drinking differs substantially from the next, and there can’t be a single, simple, universal solution.
Still, at least some of the following tactics should be of use to you. Remember, the goal is not to treat an AUD or quit alcohol outright; it’s to temper binge drinking to help recovery begin.
Without further ado, consider the 15 suggestions and tactics that follow.
#1 Drink Water In-Between Alcoholic Drinks
First, staying hydrated is always useful, regardless of context. It helps maintain physical health, and can allow proper eating habits to take hold. In the case of alcohol specifically it’s even more beneficial, as alcohol can dehydrate you. Healthline suggests a specific water/alcohol ratio, at that:
Drink plenty of water. Have at least one 16-ounce glass of water with every 12-ounce beer or 4 to 6 ounces of liquor, for example. Water can replenish your fluids and help you stay hydrated.
In this context specifically, it can also help you feel full. Drinking water in-between drinks will fill you up quicker, and stress your bladder more. Urinating more often may feel uncomfortable, but it can certainly work wonders when you’re looking to temper binge drinking and start your recovery in WV.
#2 Drink Non-Alcoholic Beverages; “Virgin” Drinks, “Mocktails”, etc
In the same vein, you can also attain a feeling of fullness by drinking non-alcoholic beverages. Quitting any habit “cold turkey” can be very stressful, and even risky – never mind consuming addictive substances like alcohol. So instead of going all the way, you can start by replacing your habits with healthier ones. Or in this case, your drinks of choice.
Look for non-alcoholic beverages or “mocktails” which resemble the taste of your alcoholic drinks of choice. It may feel like a crutch to do so, but it’s a small step which can really help. It’s a gradual process, and small steps are still useful steps forward.
#3 Change Your Scenery – And Schedule
Having mentioned behavioral patterns, here we can also touch on the factor of scenery. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) delves into harmful behavioral patterns, as the name suggests, and leans on scenery quite heavily. In fact, virtually every CBT treatment plan for substance abuse will include this tip – so it bears mentioning here.
In brief, patterns of behavior often rely on repeat settings and times of day; morning cigarettes on the balcony, an afternoon drink in the living room, and so on. These make up our habits, beyond the substances themselves. So, you can consciously begin to adjust these patterns to help you temper binge drinking and start your recovery in WV.
#4 Avoid Drinking Games And Risky Settings – Physical And Digital
Similarly, there can be risky settings that can fuel cravings and have you give in. The difference between one or two drinks and binge drinking can often come down to peer pressure and encouragement. A glass of wine with your favorite show can be one thing, but a “drinking game” where you take a shot every time X happens can be quite another.
Such settings do tend to be college parties, famously, but can be much more. Social gatherings, home gatherings, and more might encourage binge drinking. So, remember to avoid these to the best of your abilities. That includes social media settings, as we’ve covered before, as they can present harmful behavior triggers too.
#5 Find New Hobbies
As you start to make changes to your everyday life and schedule, this may be the perfect time to find new hobbies as well. Beyond your own wellbeing and recreational time off, there are a few different reasons for this.
To name a few, group hobbies can:
- Let you socialize, possibly building better peer support networks.
- Improve your mental wellbeing, tackling some underlying reasons for binge drinking.
- Help cement lifestyle changes, as you have companionship through them.
Similarly, solitary hobbies too can improve your wellbeing. They can let you channel your creativity, as a form of art therapy, and alleviate stress. Physically demanding ones can also drastically improve your mood, as we’ll cover next.
#6 Use Stress Relievers
But as you do, your efforts to temper binge drinking and start your recovery in WV can prove stressful. You may, by all means, have the resolve and fortune to see the process through in a comfortable way. Not everyone does, however, and stress can be your worst enemy. It can do more than have your efforts fail; it can even exacerbate mental health strains and fuel addiction.
To address this, ideally proactively, you can consider some stress relievers that work for you. Those can include, among others:
- Yoga, meditation, and other spiritually uplifting activities
- Sports, martial arts, and going to the gym
- Walks in nature
It may take some time to find the ideal ones for you, but the effort is well worth it.
#7 Keep A Drinking Journal
For that matter, while journaling can help your state of mind, keeping a drinking journal can help you in action. You can note down the basics, such as how much you drank and when. Or, you can go further and note what you drank, with whom, where, and why.
All of that will help you in a few key ways. First, it can give you a sense of self-monitoring; you’ll have a tangible way to keep yourself in check. Second, you’ll be able to look back on the context of each drinking session. And third, as you successfully temper binge drinking and start your recovery in WV, you’ll have a solid, accurate record. Sharing it with any professional treatment providers and support groups you may seek help from can be incredibly useful.
#8 Use Standard Measurements
To do that effectively, however, you’ll need a solid, consistent way to measure just what you’ve been drinking. This may seem a bit silly to note, but it’s extremely common. It’s very tempting to just say you had “a large beer” or “two glasses of whiskey”- which doesn’t say much. Glasses differ, and definitions of “large” vary quite a bit from one bar to the next.
So instead, choose and stick with some solid measurements. Ounces or milligrams, depending on which side of the pond you’re on, are far more reliable. It will be easier for you to set goals this way, and to track your progress.
#9 Reward Yourself
On the subject of progress, any amount of it is still progress. Have you had just one glass less? That’s great; it’s progress, and it’s worth celebrating. Not with alcohol, of course, but you should always reward yourself. Positive reinforcement is part of CBT too, for that matter.
When you do make progress, then, remember to give yourself that little something you deserve for it. If you’re on a diet, move your “cheat day” to a convenient day or have two. If you’ve found a new hobby, indulge in it some more. Keep it healthy and productive, of course, but don’t let your efforts go unrewarded.
#10 Forgive Yourself
By the same token, it’s not easy to temper binge drinking and start your recovery in WV. You might have a rough time and give in, with one drink leading to the next. That’s not rare at all; if anything, it’s quite likely. When that does happen, it’s just as crucial to practice self-forgiveness to let yourself try again.
Just how you will do this depends entirely on you. Our article linked above might help give you some ideas, but in all cases you likely should:
- Come to terms with your failures; you should not blame them on others.
- Excuse yourself; addiction and harmful behaviors are not easy to break free from.
- Vocalize your struggles; share your efforts with peers who can support you.
Cliché as it may sound, it’s always vital to pick yourself up if you fall. Being discouraged by a relapse will only stop you from achieving recovery.
#11 Work Out
Beyond mental effort, it’s equally important to mind your physical wellbeing. That’s not just to maintain your physical health, as alcohol consumption can endanger it. Rather, it’s to facilitate a holistic approach to abstinence, as the two are very closely connected.
Indeed, NCBI makes this point in very clear terms:
“Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function. Exercise has also been found to alleviate symptoms such as low self-esteem and social withdrawal. […] Health benefits from regular exercise […] should be emphasized and reinforced by every mental health professional to their patients[.]”
Needless to say, then, some physical exercise can tremendously help you temper binge drinking and start your recovery in WV. Start with ones fit for your physical condition and ones that you enjoy, and work your way to a solid schedule that uplifts and empowers you.
#12 Have Consistent Eating and Sleep Schedules
Speaking of schedules, it’s generally very helpful to let yourself heal in other ways too. Namely, by giving yourself proper nutrition and enough sleep. Even if you’re not facing an AUD at all, these simple lifestyle choices can go a long way. Your physical and mental health will both thank you.
As regards nutrition, your best bet should be to consult a dietitian. If you can’t, or you’d rather not, you can still mind your diet yourself. Have plenty of small meals throughout the day, cut down on sugars, and diversify your sources of nutrients. This is quite important to address, as eating disorders quite commonly overlap with addiction.
Sleeping well and for long enough is just as important. Your body needs proper rest, and so does your mind. In fact, improper rest can exacerbate mental health issues. A lack of sleep might also be due to mental health issues, however. In such cases you might need professional help and medication, which we strongly suggest you consider.
#13 Consume Some Sugar – In Moderation
This might seem like an odd tactic, but we promise it will make sense in a moment. As you try to temper binge drinking and start your recovery in WV, you may start craving sugar. So, a simple tactic to try is to actually indulge in some sugary foods – in moderation.
This may not work for everyone, but it isn’t quite as outlandish as it may seem. Alcoholics Anonymous suggested this too, and sugar can indeed work as a substitute for alcohol. What’s important here is that you contextualize this properly and productively:
- Keep it in check; you don’t want to substitute one addiction with another.
- Use it as a reward mechanism; dopamine can help redirect your behavioral patterns.
- Enrich your diet through it; you do need some sugars too.
You may best consult dieticians and therapists for such approaches, but it may just be the positive reinforcement you need.
#14 Join AA Support Groups
Having mentioned support manifold, it’s not unlikely that you may need some help to go the extra mile. Self-reflection, self-restraint, and self-regulation are all great practices, but we’re social creatures. So, you may need to consider some group therapy to best leverage that.
AA support groups have done some truly amazing work over the past decades, and continue to do so. Using the original Twelve Steps as their core, they let binge drinkers, recovering alcoholics, and those with AUDs receive help. Whether you’re now starting your journey or are in aftercare, such groups are an excellent way to socialize, vocalize your struggles, and receive genuine empathy from your peers.
#15 Seek Professional Help
Finally, you may not be able to temper binge drinking and start your recovery in WV on your own. It’s an unfortunate reality that this is far from a simple task. As highlighted above, different people drink for different reasons; social acceptance, everyday stress, underlying mental health issues, and more. So, it may not be easy to address these underlying reasons without proper support and guidance.
The clearest indication that you may need professional help should come from repeated failed attempts to quit. If the above continue to fail for you, there may be deeper issues you need to address. In those cases, addiction treatment providers should be your next step forward. Remember, it’s never shameful or a sign of weakness to seek help if you need it. It’s the responsible and logical thing to do, both for yourself and your loved ones.
Harmony Ridge Is Here To Help
To summarize, binge drinking can often indicate deeper underlying problems. It may be temporary, in response to stress or a need to socialize and feel free. However, persistent binge drinking comes with many risks to one’s physical and mental health. Most importantly, it increases the risk for AUDs in cases where it’s present without them; a clear warning sign.
If you find yourself needing to temper binge drinking and start your recovery in WV, Harmony Ridge Recovery is here for you. Our experience with substance and behavioral addiction hopefully speaks for itself, but we understand you may have more questions. If so, or if you’re ready to seek help, please contact us today. Our teams are available 24/7, and will happily offer all kinds of assistance you need to set your mind at ease and begin a journey to recovery like no other.