Binge Drinking: Too Many Too Soon!
An Electronic Mental Health Newsletter from Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. & Associates
Volume 9, Number 10
This October, we celebrate the ninth year of our E-Letter. Started right after Hurricane Wilma with tips on recovering from a hurricane, we have expanded our readership to over 1000 people. We are proud to have provided education and information on a wide variety of psychological topics and will continue to do so. We have received many, many positive comments about each edition’s content, mainly “I didn’t know that”, and are pleased that we have been helpful. We ask that you take care of both your physical and mental health during these times of stress, uncertainty, and fear.
This month’s E-letter focuses on Binge Drinking. Our email of the month, Speechless, is about wordplay and Our Ask the Doc question is about a dependent young adult. We hope you find the enclosed information helpful. We thank you for the many responses we have received through the years and we plan on continuing to provide quality education and information.
Depression group. Weekly depression therapy groups meet regularly in our office. A men’s support group and a women’s support group are run by Dr. Jim Kaikobad and each meets for one and one-half hours. The groups are educational, supportive, and confidential and are limited to 8 people. If you are interested in attending, please contact Jillian at 954 755-2885.
Research Study. If you are overweight, you might consider participating in a research study. Our practice has been asked by Life Extension Institute to participate in conducting research assessing the effects of cognitive therapy, nutritional supplements, and medications on weight management in overweight individuals. Informal results continue to show success for those subjects who are in the study. For more information about the study, contact Jillian, at 954 755-2885.
Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course. Our practice is one of the few offices certified to provide the Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course. Sometimes referred to as the Divorce Class, it is required by the State of Florida for all parents divorcing or separating even if not legally married. We have provided this course many times and have designed it as a 4-hour, one-session presentation that focuses on ensuring that parents protect their children from the effects of divorce or separation by setting aside their differences and focusing on the children’s need for both parents in their lives. The course also provides information about divorce as loss, gives an overview of the Florida laws and statutes related to divorce and custody issues, and offers information on how children react to divorce based on their ages. The course is offered live on a flexible schedule, based on the availability of those attending the course. Please contact our Administrative Assistant, Jillian, at 954 755-2885 for additional information.
Handouts from previous E-Letters can be found on our website, www.KimmelPsychology.com. We invite you to read and download them if desired.
BINGE DRINKING: TOO MANY TOO SOON!
Our E-Letter this month focuses on what seems to be one of America’s favorite pastimes, Binge Drinking. It seems at least in South Florida that at any concert, sporting event, party or celebration, there are many people who drink so much so quickly with the expressed intent of getting drunk. College students are well known for this activity yet it has quickly grown and spread throughout all ages groups. In fact, 70% of binge drinking occurs in adults 26 years or older and those 65 or older report binge drinking five to six times a month. Yes it is far more common than we thought.
Binge drinking is defined as having a Blood Alcohol Concentration Level greater than .08 grams or having 5 or more drinks for men or 4 drinks for women during one occasion at least once in a two week period. It is purposeful drinking with the intention of getting intoxicated. This means that having 4 or 5 drinks at a party or football game constitutes binge drinking. It is common to hear from our patients that when they go out, they drink and they drink to get drunk.
Yet binge drinking has huge economic costs, increases diseases and has profound social harm. Regular binge drinking can have negative effects on the gastrointestinal, hematologic, immune, musculoskeletal, cardiac, and neurological systems. It also increases the prevalence of mental health disorders. It is associated with traffic accidents, violent behavior, suicides, date rape, unwanted pregnancies, and sexually transmitted diseases. Blackouts are a risk and can cause guilt, shame, embarrassment, loss of relationships, loss of personal property, and injury or death. A particularly nasty effect of binge drinking is alcohol poisoning or alcohol overdose due to a dangerously high blood alcohol level. In some cases, the binge drinker chokes on their own vomit which can be fatal. Other common effects are injuries from falls, fights, and car accidents.
So why do people binge drink? Today, it’s cool socially. Many people binge drink because their friends are binge drinking and everyone else at the party is binge drinking. They will drink to fit in. Others drink because they are bored, to escape from stress, to reduce their social anxiety, to be the life of the party, and to increase their odds of having sex with others. Binge drinking is also closely associated with certain social events like concerts and football games.
Are you a binge drinker? You may be if:
- you suddenly become a risk taker and are typically reserved or shy
- you don’t drink during the week but go overboard on the weekends
- you are not able to say no to a drink
- you start having blackouts and do not remember what you did
- you become lazy and a slacker
- you post messages about drinking and getting drunk
- you constantly talk about your drinking experiences
- you associate with binge drinkers
- you wear clothing or have accessories related to alcohol
- your family and friends are worried about your drinking
If you are a binge drinker and want to stop, you need to make a commitment to stopping. Be honest with yourself and recognize what you are doing to yourself and your family. Accept that you are a binge drinker and ask yourself why you want to stop. Identify the consequences of your drinking and decide whether it really is fun. Does it provide you with an escape from stress? Does it really make you cool? Are you okay with not knowing who you may have had sex with? Is it really okay to not remember what you did. When you make the commitment to end your binge drinking, keep a journal of what you drink, how much, and what happens. Set a limit to the number of drinks you allow yourself and see if you can stick to it. If you can’t, then you will need to abstain completely and will probably lose your friends. Be aware of advertising on television and in the movies that associate binge drinking with having fun, being social, looking good, looking desirable, and being young. Ask for support from non-binge drinking friends and family. For every one alcoholic drink, have two glasses of water. If you continue to be unable to stop binge drinking, attend a support group such as AA and seek professional help. With a commitment, honesty, and an open mind, you can end your binge drinking.
We offer the following information on Binge Drinking:
BINGE DRINKING TOO MANY TOO SOON!
“Last Friday night, Yeah we danced on table tops,
And we took too many shots, Think we kissed but I forgot
Last Friday night, Yeah we maxed our credit cards
And got kicked out of the bar, So we hit the boulevard
This Friday night, Do it all again
This Friday night, Do it all again”– Katy Perry
WHAT TO KNOW!
- Binge drinking is defined as the excessive drinking of alcohol over a short period of time with the primary intention of getting drunk
- In the U.S., binge drinking is defined by the “5/4 definition”: 5 or more standard drinks for men, 4 drinks for women during one occasion at least once in a 2 week period or having a blood alcohol concentration at or greater than 0.08 grams
- One in 6 U.S. adults binge drink about 4 times a month with about 8 drinks per binge
- While binge drinking is common among young adults, those 65 or older report an average of 5-6 times a month and men reportedly binge drink twice as much as women
- While common in college, 70% of binge drinking occurs in adults 26 years or older
- People often binge drink because they’re stressed, bored, have friends who binge drink, or have mental associations between alcohol and certain activities such as concerts
- Signs a person is a binge drinker include: becoming a risk taker, being a “weekend warrior”, not being able to say no to a drink, having black outs, becoming a slacker, talking and posting comments about drinking, and having worries from family and friends
- Binge drinking increases the risk of suicide, unplanned sex, unprotected sex, increased risk of HIV and STDs, assault, date rape, crime, divorce, and poor job performance
- Health problems can include unintentional and intentional injuries, alcohol poisoning, liver disease, neurological damage, sexual dysfunction, and impaired control of diabetes
- Signs of alcohol poisoning from binge drinking include: confusion, vomiting, choking on vomit, seizures, inability to be awakened, irregular breathing, low body temperature
- Binge drinking can also effect cardiac rhythms, circadian rhythms, and blood pressure
- Adolescent binge drinking is the cause of 1/3 of all fatal traffic accidents
- In adolescent binge drinkers, the risk for suicide is greater by 4 times
- Binge drinkers are 14 times more likely to report alcohol impaired driving than others
- Binge drinking cost the U.S. in 2006 $233.5 billion or about $1.90 a drink from losses in productivity, health care, crime and other expenses
WHAT TO DO TO STOP BINGE DRINKING!
- Be aware of advertising that promotes drinking with having fun, being social, being cool, looking good, and necessary to have a good time
- Be honest with yourself and accept that you are a binge drinker
- Ask yourself why you want to stop and identify the consequences of your drinking
- Keep a drinking journal of when you drink, how much, and what happens
- Try to set a limit to the number of drinks and see if you can stick to it; if not, abstain from drinking completely
- Ask a friend or family member to support you and check up on you when you drink
- Only drink with meals or alternate drinking with glasses of water
- Attend a support group or seek professional help if you are unable to stop binge drinking
We Can Help!
Call us at (954) 755-2885 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. and Associates 5571 N. University Drive, Suite 101 Coral Springs, Florida 33067
As always, we would like to welcome new readers to our e-Letter. We hope that you find it informational and enjoyable. We invite you to share this e-Letter with others. If you have received this from a fellow reader, please send us your email address to include you on our list.
Ask the Doc
SW writes: I am writing about a friend of mine whose 29 year old son lives at home with her and her husband. She complains to me constantly about how unhappy he is and how worried she is. He doesn’t work and is not motivated to get a job. She doesn’t know what to do to get him motivated. He does not get into trouble but does nothing except play videogames or watch television. He has no friends and no ambition. I have given her suggestions but she doesn’t listen. What can I do?
- Dr. Joel Kimmel replies: Thank you for emailing me with this question and it sounds like you are relating 2 situations; your friend’s complaining to you and her son’s lack of ambition. Regarding the latter, I don’t think there is that much you can do as your friend hasn’t listened to you and has enabled her son. It seems like he has a high comfort level at his home and may not be expected to do much. If she is cooking for him, doing his laundry, and giving him money, why would he leave? For him to go, she and her husband have to get tough, stop enabling, and have higher expectations for him. They need to upset his comfort level so that he becomes more motivated. She needs to stop doing everything she is doing for him and let him do it himself. She and her husband also need to set small expectations with a time frame and enforce them. For example, he needs to immediately look for a job and have one secured within a month. He needs to do certain chores around the house starting immediately. He needs to develop friends and socialize within a month. He also needs to contribute a token amount of money to continue to live at home. The videogames need to be removed and she and her husband have to commit themselves to doing this. By not enabling him, they will be making him stronger. Your friend may want to read Codependent No More by Melody Beattie.
Regarding your friend, you may want to tell her you care and courteously but assertively ask her why she complains to you. You can explain how frustrating it is to you that she tells you her problems and does nothing about them. If she is venting, recognize it as that and realize that no matter what you say, she will do nothing. If you assert yourself, let her know that you care and want to help her but she needs to commit to taking some action. If she does, you will support her and do everything you can to help her stay strong. You need to decide whether she is venting or asking for help. You very well may end up not having her as a friend. ul>
Email of the Month
We would like to thank Mark M. for the following email:
WELCOME TO THE TECHNOLOGY OF THE 21ST CENTURY!
Our Phones > Wireless
Cooking > Fireless
Cars > Keyless
Food > Fatless
Tires > Tubeless
Dress > Sleeveless
Youth > Jobless
Leaders > Shameless
Relationships > Meaningless
Attitude > Careless
Wives > Fearless
Babies > Fatherless
Feelings > Heartless
Education > Valueless
Children > Mannerless
Our Government is > Clueless
And this leaves me > Speechless
Please continue to send us your comments, questions, and favorite emails for our e-Letter.
The information provided in this electronic newsletter is not a substitute for professional treatment. It is the opinions of the writers and is provided solely for educational purposes. For mental health care, seek a qualified professional.
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Copyright © 2014 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. and Associates.