Just because you only drink or use on weekends does not mean you don’t have a problem. A substance abuse problem is not defined by how often you drink or use. Several criteria exist including; the amount you use, tolerance, obsession, frequency, dependency, withdrawal symptoms, and negative consequences. The negative consequences you face, the way you act, blackouts and gaps in memory, outrageous behavior, arguments, relationship issues, physical fights, mental health conditions, risky behaviors, and cash flow paints a picture of your reality.
You have so many creative excuses to minimize, deny, or justify your dependence on substances to cope with life. A pattern will emerge. How you feel the day after, if you have slept at all, physical effects of coming down or a hangover, damage to yourself or property, or whether you feel humiliated or embarrassed by your behavior are all red flags of hazardous use.
CHANGING HOW YOU FEEL
Drinking or using because it is expected or you are attempting to avoid emotions (i.e.: college parties, Friday night workmates, pre-drinks before going out, masking stress or emotional upset) are just excuses you tell yourself as you get loaded.
Any time you drink or use to change the way you feel or stop feeling a certain way, you are self-medicating. If you just want to have one drink and end up losing count, you have a problem.
Drinking or using before you go out to ‘get in the mood,’ to save yourself some money by getting lit before going out, sneaking flasks, or disappearing for periods of time while you are out to hide drug use, is questionable.
Being told what you said and how you acted while out with friends because you were in a blackout and don’t remember is not a badge of honor. Acting out, being outrageous, causing arguments, picking up stray sexual partners, or making sure you draw attention to yourself, and not remembering it the next day is a huge red flag. Risky behavior will not lead to anything good.
Denial is the mother of all substance abuse coping mechanisms. Defending how much you drink or use, and how you act while under the influence are a pointless exercise. The only person you are fooling is yourself. Everyone else gets to watch you do these things.
Other than the odd glass of wine, beer, or spirit at the end of your day, drinking or using alone to excess on a regular basis denotes an issue. Priming yourself to be half lit before meeting friends or socializing is a recipe for disaster.
Only drinking on weekends, although seemingly sensible, backfires when you consume large amounts of your substance to ‘make up for’ the week where you were ‘good.’
If you spend more than a few minutes thinking about or planning how you will get your substance, how much you will get and how you plan to use it, illustrates obsession. Watching the clock on Friday, counting down until you can race out the door and use is unhealthy.
Shifting your priorities from family time, activities, catching up on chores, socializing or hobbies and replacing them with substance use and isolation indicates progression of your addiction.
ACCIDENTS AND EMERGENCIES
Binge drinking especially has dangerous consequences for the liver, brain and other organs. Dumping huge amounts of alcohol into the system in a short period of time overwhelms your body and contributes to higher levels of poison circulating your system.
Not to mention, drinking a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time can cause alcohol poisoning which will land you in the ER having your stomach pumped out or you will wind up in ICU. Alcohol poisoning can lead to coma and death.
Large amounts of drugs or alcohol in short periods of time contributes to accidents and injuries. It can also permanently affect the brain causing memory and processing problems.
It is so easy to overdose when you mix prescription meds, illicit drugs, and alcohol. Mixing everything together can overwhelm your system without warning. You better hope you are around people who can call 911.
Eventually, your weekend binging will not be enough. You will progress into regular or daily use. Once you begin to use regularly you will build up tolerance, meaning you will need more of the substance to get the same effect as you did at the beginning.
It is a known fact that you will chase the high you got the first time you got loaded, and never reach it again. In fact, you will probably dabble in poly-substance use in the hopes of getting there.
You will also suffer withdrawal symptoms when you are not using. This can be mild to severe. You will need to drink or use to make symptoms go away, or to just feel ‘normal.’
BINGING IS A HUGE PROBLEM
Binge drinking on the weekends is a precursor to full-blown substance abuse. Given, there are a lot of college students who drink and use through college, and then simply stop, never to do that again.
In general, if you continue binge drinking on weekends, there will come a time when this will not be enough. You are in danger of developing full-blown substance abuse if you continue. The more you do it, the more you want it, the more risk you are of causing permanent damage to yourself, or someone else.
Binge drinking or using can be more harmful than more regular use due to the excessive amounts of substances and the fact you cram a weeks’ worth of substance use into 48 hours or less. Not a good thing.
By now you are using substances to get up and to come down. The general term applied to someone who uses different substances is ‘garbage can.’ The technical term used in rehab circles is poly-addiction. This means you are now dependent on more than one drug, and will pretty much take anything mind-altering..
Your weekend binges are doing just as much, if not more damage to your body than moderate daily use. You cannot continue to dump huge amounts of anything into your body for 48 hours and not expect consequences.
It is only going to take one blackout night, or one laced drug to change your life forever. Street drugs are even more deadly today than they were a few years ago due to chemical composition and methods of cutting.
Do you really want to put yourself at risk for deadly violence or death?
It’s time to rethink your belief that binge drinking is normal, and that you do not have a problem.
‘Only’ drinking or using during the weekend is just another way to deny you are knee deep in substance abuse.