5 Signs Your Weekend Drinking Could Be More of a Problem Than You Realise

Let’s debunk that ever-popular myth; you can’t be an alcoholic unless you’re reaching for a drink every morning. The idea that you only have a problem with alcohol if you drink daily is monstrously dangerous.

So often, people don’t recognise their drinking as a problem as it doesn’t fit into the stereotypes of alcoholism. It’s a round peg, square hole kind of situation.

Surprising as it might be, drinking on the weekends can also indicate a problem with alcohol. Weekend drinking, often in the form of binge drinking, is a cause for concern globally. Studies from the University of Alabama, Birmingham, indicate this as it sheds light on the infamous but dangerous college past time of binge drinking.

A worrying estimate of 1,825 college students aged 18-24 die yearly from alcohol-related injuries, including car accidents, with 20% meeting the criteria for an alcohol use disorder. Furthermore, the academic life of one in four college students was negatively affected due to alcohol consumption. [1]

The drinking of alcohol is so embedded in our millennial culture that most of us think nothing of weekend binge sessions or having friends and family members who also do so. But, unfortunately, this problem doesn’t have an age limit, with over 38 million US adults reporting binge drinking a dangerous number of four times a month.[2]

Alcohol abuse problems consist of several layers, including high functioning alcoholism and weekend alcoholism. This makes a drinking problem more challenging to recognise as weekend alcoholics do not exhibit clear signs of daily drinking.

Although their weekend drinking could easily fit into the box of binge drinking or alcoholism, it’s hard to differentiate the drinking behaviours of high functioning alcoholics, as they can vary from person to person.

If you find your weekend drinking increasing, or you’re struggling to stop, it could be that these weekend shenanigans are turning into a bigger problem than you thought. So keep an eye out for these five signs that your weekend drinking may be turning into high-functioning alcoholism.

1. Unable to Stop

What may start as one or two beverages may quickly turn into three or four or dangerously more. Being unable to stop after one or two drinks is one of the most significant signs of a weekend drinking problem. Perhaps a night out with friends starts as one drink, where you tell yourself you’re only going to have one. But unsurprisingly so, you soon find yourself craving a second, third, fourth, etc.

Sadly, this is a common problem with addiction due to the rewiring of the brain’s rewards circuits, resulting in compulsion, resulting in binge drinking. [3] So if you’re finding yourself craving more and more drinks on the weekends, it could be worth taking an alcohol consumption assessment or trying to reduce or cut out alcohol altogether.

2. Behaving Differently or Aggressively

It’s no secret that alcohol can change us into Jekyll and Hyde. Excessive alcohol consumption on the weekend can lead you to behave differently when you’re sober. Saying and doing things you wouldn’t usually do suggest you might have a problem. Drinking for courage, coping with stress or negative emotions, and handling certain social situations is another cause for concern.

Yes, the amount a person consumes is an indicator of a bigger problem, but this isn’t the only measure. The real issue is how alcohol affects and changes us. For example, most wouldn’t dare get behind the wheel of a car when drunk for fear of killing themselves or someone else. However, someone with a drinking problem might justify driving after a few beers.

Finding yourself doing push-ups in the middle of the road or trying to climb your nearest lamp post after a few Saturday night drinks is typical of how alcohol causes individuals to behave dangerously.

Taking unnecessary risks with your life, behaving inappropriately at parties, frequently phoning in sick to work, fighting, or arguing with your spouse are all risks of excessive alcohol consumption. Alcohol lowers the bodies inhibitions, and therefore, excessive drinking leads to a person making poor decisions. [4]

Because of this dangerous change in behaviour, high levels of intoxication can lead to a higher chance of being in various serious accidents. The World Health Organisation claims that each year an estimated 684,000 individuals die from falls globally, with alcohol abuse being a severe risk factor. [5] Furthermore, the United States sees a worrying increase in alcohol-related deaths, with studies linking alcohol consumption to a high number of fatal burn injuries, drownings, falls, homicides, and motor vehicle traffic deaths. These shocking numbers give a clear indication of when weekend drinking becomes dangerous.[6]

3. Continuing To Drink Despite Relationship Disrepair

With changes in behaviour like the above, weekend alcoholism can strain other parts of your life and have a severe and damaging risk to relationships.

Do you suddenly find yourself avoiding gatherings with friends or family because you would prefer to drink? High functioning alcoholics may choose not to attend events where there is no alcohol, or they may be under scrutiny by friends and family. Unfortunately, our family and friends are not as oblivious to our drinking and may have noticed that you may have a problem.

Have you been challenged about your weekend drinking by your partner, spouse, family or friends? Has this erupted into arguments and denial? If your relationships are starting to suffer because of your weekend drinking, it could be time to admit a more significant problem here. It’s time to consider what’s more important to you right now, weekend drinking or your relationships?

4. Rewarding Yourself with Alcohol

Alcohol is used far too fervently in our millennial society to celebrate achievements or reward a job well done. It’s easy to justify a drink on the weekend for a promotion at work, a good grade achieved, or simply managing to adult through to the weekend.

But justifying a reason to drink and making alcohol your reward system screams alarm bells, especially when there are so many other ways to reward yourself. Why not treat yourself to a yummy dinner (minus the alcohol), buy a ticket to a show, buy a new outfit, take a trip? The options are endless. Directing your reward habits in a new way is a clever way to tackle this problem.

5. Remorse and Regret

Do you far too often wake up trying to piece together the jigsaw of the previous night’s events? Have you become filled with guilt as parts of the puzzle slot into place and you cringe at your actions? Binge drinkers often wake with a flood of conscience as embarrassing or painful memories penetrate the surface.

If this has become a regular occurrence, it could be a clear sign that your weekend drinking has become out of control. However, don’t be too hard on yourself if you are ashamed or disappointed for going over your one or two drink limit. You can get past this with plenty of ways to learn to enjoy your weekends without alcohol and subsequent guilt.

Freeing Yourself From Weekend Drinking

Before continuing to drink on the weekends, it’s worth considering if drinking to excess on the weekends is worth the risk to your health, family, jobs, and life in general. Alcohol has serious adverse effects on our health, with long term drinking putting the human body at increased risks of cancer, liver disease, cardiovascular problems, brain problems and many other conditions. [7] So knowing this, is your weekend worth the danger?

Alternatives to Drinking

Imagine sinking your bare feet into cool grass on a warm summer day. Feel the warmth of the sun on your back and the breath on your face as you practise your newest hobby of Tia Chia. But, of course, there are many other great hobbies you could be doing on the weekend rather than drinking, such as hiking, reading, bowling, going to the movies.

Once you start to find different ways to enjoy and reward yourself, the cravings for alcohol can lessen. However, if you feel like stopping weekend drinking is out of your power, admitting this to a loved one is a great way to start. Tell them your struggles and how you’d like to get help. Talking to your GP is the next significant step to help you on your way to resolving your weekend drinking problem.

  1. https://www.uab.edu/news/youcanuse/item/7092-the-dangers-and-risks-of-binge-drinking
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/bingedrinking/index.html#:~:text=More%20than%2038%20million%20US%20adults%20binge%20drink%2C%20about%204,crashes%2C%20violence%2C%20and%20suicide.
  3. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-use-addiction
  4. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/How-alcohol-affects-your-body
  5. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/falls
  6. https://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/How-much-is-too-much/Whats-the-harm/What-Are-The-Consequences.aspx
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3307043/