Keystone Treatment Center: Binge Drinking – A Blurry Line

Written by crchealthgroup   // March 26, 2012   // Comments Off

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As seen on Keloland television, by Shawn Neisteadt.

It’s fairly common for people in the Midwest to get done with work for the day, go home and have a drink.

But when does that drink turn into more than just one? And when is that an issue?

Some say it’s a way to take the edge off after a long day in the office or an aid to unwind when wound up by the stresses of life. But a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control shows more people are taking that one or two drinks to another level. The survey shows more people are now binge drinking than previously thought. In fact, 38 million adult Americans now report binge drinking.

“The term binge drinking is used to describe when people drink a large amount of alcohol in a short amount of time to get intoxicated,” Matt Walz of Keystone Treatment Center said.

The report found that those living in the Midwest are also some of the most likely to binge drink with up to a quarter of adults taking part in the activity. Midwesterners also have the most drinks when on a binge drink, often consuming seven to nine alcoholic drinks.

“In certain cases that looks like normal teenage behavior, or normal partying behavior. In other cases that looks like alcoholism,” Walz said.

Walz says the line between an occasional binge drinker and a full-blown alcoholic is a thin one and often blurry. He would know; he’s now celebrating 16 years of sobriety.

“If you are planning your time around your drinking, if you are going to work all week or school all week and the thing you look forward to the most is your weekend and getting blasted, there’s probably an issue there that should be addressed,” Walz said.

Walz adds that the recent report isn’t surprising, but sometimes similar reports can contradict others based on variables and age groups surveyed. Here in KELOLAND, counselors at Keystone see binge drinkers don’t belong to one particular group or the other.

“We tend to see it regardless of age. We do see it in young people; I’d be lying if I said we didn’t. We see it in older folks, adults that feel like they manage their drinking because they only drink two or three days a week,” Walz said.

Experts estimate about 90 percent of drinkers can handle themselves and truly are social drinkers. It’s the other ten percent that may need help, and Walz says binge drinkers can be among those needing assistance.

“It’s easy to say that person living under the bridge that’s surrounded by empty liquor bottles is an alcoholic. That’s very easy for us to see. But for somebody who goes to work and then goes home and drinks until they pass out, it’s hard for us to see that person as an alcoholic. But really, they are,” Walz said.

Walz says the best thing that can happen for anyone with repetitive behaviors involving alcohol is to find help. Friends and family members can encourage that help, but he cautions, there may be resistance.

“Binge drinkers are probably the best at the denial and the justification. Because they say, ‘I’m not drinking every day. I’m not living under a bridge; I’m holding a job down or I’m holding a school,'” Walz said.

Nonetheless, he says it can be a destructive behavior that according to the latest survey, is impacting more Americans than ever before.

Keystone offers free assessments for those 18 years old and younger. They say the most important part is for anyone who needs help to get it, regardless of where they turn for that assistance.

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