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The curse of alcohol in our society is that it’s hard to say, “enough is enough,” when drinking. It’s hard to know when to say “when.” This isn’t just the case for people with an alcohol use disorder. Binge drinking has become the norm, and we’re faced with making decisions in this type of alcoholic climate every day. If you drink too much society shames you, but if you don’t drink enough, or not at all, they shame you again! In some ways, it seems like a lose-lose situation. This is how binge drinking became the norm in our society.
1. Our society is inundated with alcohol
No, you’re not imagining it. Our society is obsessed with alcohol. It’s on TV, radio, the internet, and social media. It’s the queen of “mommy culture,” of millennials, and the go-to coping mechanism for almost everyone. Had a bad day? You need a drink. Had a good day? Let’s celebrate with a drink. Is your life in shambles? Let’s drink. Is your life going well? You need a drink. Happy, sad, angry, grieving, excited – these feelings all warrant a cocktail according to our society. When does one abstain when this is the case? It’s hard and that’s why binge drinking has become the norm instead.
2. College campuses are binge drinking environments
College is a time when young adults get to live away from home for the first time. Everyone knows that college is associated with parties. When I went to college, I knew I would be able to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and with whoever I wanted. What I wasn’t aware of was that binge drinking was basically invented on college campuses. Groups like fraternities, sororities, and sports teams are hosts to lavish parties that host drinking games like flip cup, beer pong, and beer Olympics. The more drinking the better, and the faster you drink, the more you are praised. It’s a disaster waiting to happen, and many of us are left drinking the same way following college, until we find sobriety.
3. Most people don’t know what constitutes binge drinking
It’s hard to combat and prevent binge drinking when the general population isn’t informed on what constitutes binge drinking. According to the CDC, binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol content to 0.08 grams percent or higher. This generally happens when men consume 5 or more drinks and when women consume 4 or more drinks within about 2 hours. If you think about your own drinking patterns, it’s not hard to see that most people drink like this frequently. One in six U.S. adults binge drinks 4 times a month and consumes about 8 drinks per binge. I would say the majority of my drinking was binge drinking. Happy hours encourage it with their specials. College parties encourage it with their drinking games. We are constantly bombarded by messaging that says the more we drink, the better our reputation. We can “hold our liquor.” Therefore, we have more worth.
4. We binge on everything from Netflix to alcohol
We live in a binging society. It shouldn’t be surprising that binge drinking has become the norm in a society where we binge on everything from Netflix to alcohol. We want instant gratification, as quickly as possible. Binge watching, binge eating, and binge drinking are common phrases and situations in our society. Businesses and marketing companies make money off our binging culture, and it is encouraged in subtle and profound ways.
5. The paradox of drinking too much and not enough
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, we are living a great alcohol-drinking paradox. We live in a society where being able to hold your alcohol, drink more, for longer periods of time and at a higher volume, is considered a badge of honor. When women can hang with the guys and take shots all night long they are considered “cool,” and “fun.” But the moment we admit that we are drinking too much, or alcohol is negatively affecting us, or that we’re addicted, society looks down on us. They shame us, call us alcoholics, say that we made these choices, and that there is something wrong with us because we can’t drink like a “normal” person. What they fail to mention is that society is set up that way; that binge drinking is the norm and that it leads to addiction.
This how binge drinking has become normal in our society and why so many of us suffer from an alcohol use disorder. We should talk about recovery and sobriety as much as happy hours and frat parties and we might save more lives, create a healthier environment, and help countless people avoid years of painful drinking.