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To binge or not to binge..

Updated: May 21, 2023

man pondering drinking

Did I ever have a choice.. ?

I was a well seasoned binge drinker, no doubt about it. Once the switch turned on I couldn't turn it off until I either fell asleep or I was too drunk to function.

Experts agree, binge drinking is a dangerous behavior that can have serious consequences, both physically and mentally. For some individuals, binge drinking can become a habit that is difficult to break, and it may seem as if there is no choice in the matter. This was the case for me.

When I first started drinking, I didn't really have any intentions of becoming a binge drinker, I don't think anyone does! But as time went on, and life got more stressful, alcohol became my go to stress reliever. I found that I had a hard time controlling my intake. Once I had a few drinks, it was like a switch flipped in my brain and I felt compelled to keep drinking until I ran out of whatever I was imbibing in. If it was a Friday, Saturday or even Sunday night I would then seek any alternatives in the house, like my wife's bottle of scotch (re-topped with water to avoid detection), a manky clean skin red wine that no one would ever drink over dinner. Once started I couldn't stop myself, even when I knew I should. The risky stuff started to happen like driving back down to the bottle shop, or even riding a pushbike there to get more to drink.

This lack of control over my drinking habits was frustrating and sometimes scary. I would usually wake up in wee morning hours on the couch with a pounding headache, then make my way to bed before a restless night ruminating on why I was drinking so much and why I was unable to control my drinking. I didn't really understand or perhaps didn't want to know about the addictive nature of alcohol, or the beliefs we hold close to us that drive our drinking.

Over time, my binge drinking became more frequent, and to be truthful it began to take a toll on my physical and mental health, even though I denied there was any problem. I was constantly tired and felt like I was in a fog, I began to experience anxiety and depression as well. Despite these negative consequences, I still found myself reaching for a drink for relief whenever I felt the need. Afterall, my brain believed that alcohol was necessary to my survival.

I can still remember the last binge I had before I gave up the first time, I finished the manky bottle of red wine that had been sitting for years in my bar. The first sip was disgusting, I still drank it. Each mouthful I was asking myself why am I drinking this crap, its vile!

Simply.. because it contained alcohol.

I had the mother of all hangovers the next day which happened to be a Monday work day. Yes I called in sick! From that day I resolved to work on becoming alcohol free.

Looking back on my experiences, I realize now that I never really had a choice in whether or not I would become a binge drinker. Such is the nature of an addictive substance like alcohol, combined with social and environmental factors, my own personal tendencies and beliefs about alcohol that led me down that path. However, once I recognised I did have a choice in how I responded to my drinking habits, I chose to seek help.

I gained knowledge about alcohol and its effect on the human body, and I worked hard on myself to make positive changes in my life. Its a choice thing.

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