Binge Drinker Attempting to Change

Old 05-10-2013, 07:18 PM
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Binge Drinker Attempting to Change

I'm in my late 20's and I've been a binge drinker since turning 21. I've never been a moderate drinker. I'd rather abstain from drinking than limit myself to 1 or 2 drinks. In fact, I don't even understand the purpose of drinking alcohol if you're not going to experience a buzz from it. But, maybe that's why I'm here.

My circle of friends is comprised of heavy drinkers, so binge drinking has become my primary social activity for the past 5 years. I typically drink once or twice a week on the weekends. A night of drinking usually involves the consumption of 10-15 standard drinks, a few hundred dollars spent, dangerous risk-taking, and a hangover the following day.

The past few months, I've been going out more often for different social activities that all involve alcohol. I was going binge drinking 2-3 nights out of the week and I started to experience anxiety the days following a night out drinking. I felt very nervous around others and struggled to communicate. I will sometimes get anxiety the day following a night of drinking, but this seemed worse than before. Considering this, along with other effects on my health, I decided to step back and take a look at my drinking habits.

I realized that I perfectly fit the criteria for a high-functioning alcoholic as defined on Wikipedia. I eliminated all prior engagements involving alcohol and took a week off from drinking. The following weekend, I spent time with a friend who doesn't drink much, but I had a very strong craving for alcohol. I ended up only having a few drinks, but got very angry at my friend for not drinking with me.

A week later, I've continued to avoid alcohol and I feel much better. My cognition, memory, verbal skills, confidence, and health have improved. This is certainly due in part to adequate sleep. With this newfound clarity, I started to recognize that my drinking is problematic and needs to change.

It is very difficult to recognize this when you're always drinking in social situations surrounded by a group of friends who are even worse. Most of my friends are older, successful, and responsible in most aspects of life. But, they also go out multiple times per week and get completely drunk, blackout for hours at a time, drive while heavily intoxicated, suffer health problems as a result of alcohol abuse, and find it nearly impossible to go more than 4-5 days without repeating this. I'm guilty of all of this to a lesser extent, but it's very easy to assume that this is the normal work-hard, play-hard life for a single, successful guy. On the other hand, it is sad to see a group of people in their early 30s who are still passing out in bars, competing over who can handle more alcohol, and struggling through workdays every week with hangovers.

Despite recognizing the problem, it's very difficult to abstain long-term. Once my friends realize that I'm trying to stop drinking, I will hear the most convincing argument ever composed on the merits of binge drinking and why it's OK, normal, and nothing to be concerned about. I suppose that those of us with drinking problems become experts at justifying it. It is also very difficult to start from scratch with your social life and recreational activities. My only activity and hobby for the past 5 years has been drinking. I've gone to events and traveled, but this was just a sideshow to drinking.

Craving alcohol is rarely an issue for me. I can keep liquor in the house and not even think about it. My issue is controlling my intake after beginning. I can do it temporarily, but I'll eventually throw self-control out the window and have 10+ drinks. After slipping once, I end up back in my old habits.

I apologize for the long-winded post, but I just wanted to get some input on how to stick with this when it becomes more difficult. The most difficult part has been maintaining social interaction and staying busy. I'm trying to develop some hobbies quickly to get involved in something that will keep me distracted on nights when I would be out drinking. As someone who used alcohol to be more outgoing, social, and confident, the social interaction will be harder. I will try to socialize with the few friends I have who don't drink heavily and expand my social group in that direction. I will have to distance myself from my current group of drinking buddies despite some of them being true friends.

Thanks for reading.
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sassu78 (05-11-2013)
Old 05-10-2013, 08:09 PM
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You will find much information and support from everyone here at SR. Start by reading about others' experience. It helped me to convince myself that I could not control my drinking. Good luck. It sounds like you are off to a good start.
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Old 05-10-2013, 08:38 PM
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Microwave I see my self in your post.

I know it's hard to do but for me I wouldn't be able to stay sober around my drinking friends. I had to sever all activities with them that included drinking alcohol and this means I haven't seen many of my friends for over a year. Good luck and you sound like you know what you need to do.
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Old 05-10-2013, 08:43 PM
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Hi and welcome microwave

Despite recognizing the problem, it's very difficult to abstain long-term.
My issue is controlling my intake after beginning.
I think the problem might be simpler than you think - have you tried not drinking at all?

If thats a problem to even consider, maybe it's good to step back and look at why that is?

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Old 05-11-2013, 01:50 AM
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Old 05-11-2013, 02:06 AM
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Welcome to SR! I am a fellow binge drinker, sober for 13 days now. You will find a lot of support, good advise and kindness on here. I would recommend checking in regularly, even on "good days" (those are the days when I tend to forget that it is the first glass, and not the 10th, that gets me drunk and makes me anxious the day after...)
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