Ready for Rehab

Binge Drinking

I grew up in a pretty small town in Florida and shared just about every moment there with my best friend. We were inseparable, right up to the moment when he headed to school in-state and I headed far away. But we’d still get together whenever we were both back in town, like during school breaks.

But, lately, I’ve noticed that my friend has changed a lot since our high school days. At his school, binge drinking is the norm, and now that habit is a big part of his life. When we hang out, he drinks by himself (I won’t drink with him) and gets drunker and drunker as the night wears on. I’m worried that he has a serious problem, but he says he only drinks in the evenings and mostly on the weekend, so it’s okay. What can I tell him to help him see the problems his drinking will cause in his life?

Your friend’s drinking certainly does sound serious--even if it also sounds tragically common. Among adults in the United States, 1 in 6 admits to binge-drinking four times a month. That’s essentially the every-weekend schedule that your friend is on, and it’s bad news.

Binge drinking is not less of a “problem” than constant drinking in the morning or during the day. In fact, binge drinking is the fast track to death--alcohol claims 100,000 lives each year, and an overdose can kill a drinker long before the long-term dangers of alcoholism even begin to appear.

And binge drinking is closely linked to alcoholism in general. Among adults who report drinking too much, 90% binge drink. Alcohol dependence correlates with binge drinking, and binge drinking may lead to alcohol dependence--the two things are connected in dangerous ways.

If your friend does come to see the dangers of his habits, the good news is that he has plenty of treatment options. Florida-based rehab Beachway told us that the state’s natural beauty and fair weather are big parts of the appeal of their facilities. They’re not the only ones in the region--Florida is a popular home for rehab centers, which use the state’s relaxing and beautiful environment to make treatment a bit easier. The resort-like style doesn’t necessarily mean resort-like prices, though--Florida-based rehab center Beachside Rehab says the cost of rehab is a common misconception. Health insurance companies can often make a significant dent in the cost of rehab.

Then, of course, there are twelve-step programs, substance abuse therapists, and other groups and treatments that can help your friend. His university no doubt has resources that he can take advantage of, too. In the end, though, only he can decide to use them. Your support for your friend is commendable, but all you can do is ask him to examine his life--he is the one who has to make the call.

"It’s a great advantage not to drink among hard drinking people.” --F. Scott Fitzgerald

(Suzanne Hite is a former publications editor serving the technology services sector).

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