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Are You a Weekend Alcoholic?

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What is a Weekend Alcoholic?

A weekend alcoholic drinks lightly or moderately throughout the week, or not at all, and binge drinks on the weekends. Binge drinking is the consumption of many alcoholic beverages in a short time.

According to the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, among the 138.5 million alcohol drinkers, 44.4% reported binge drinking in the past month.1

There are three levels of problem drinking defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  1. Moderate drinking: Often called casual drinking, is characterized by one drink or less a day for women and two drinks a day or less for men. If a person exceeds four drinks on one occasion or more than eight drinks a week, it’s classified as heavy drinking.2
  2. Binge drinking: Consuming many drinks in a short period on occasion.2
  3. Heavy Drinking: Consistent need for alcohol with the inability to control drinking once they have started. Heavy drinkers continue to drink even when health and mental side effects occur. In most cases, this is considered alcoholism.2
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Functional Alcoholic vs. Social Drinker

Light and moderate drinking to heavy drinking and alcohol abuse is a broad spectrum. There are, however, some key differences between someone who is a social drinker and a functional alcoholic.

A social drinker enjoys alcohol with companions, like friends, family members, or coworkers. 

Social drinking is mostly about celebrating life and enjoying social settings rather than forgetting troubles or masking inner turmoil. They may enjoy an alcoholic beverage to relieve stress but don’t rely on it consistently. 

Social drinkers don’t allow alcohol to affect their commitments, relationships, and obligations. They can also choose when to drink rather than allowing an urge for alcohol to control them.

A functional alcoholic, also called a high functioning alcoholic, is dependent on alcohol but still functions normally in society. 

Functional alcoholics don’t allow drinking to affect their commitments, obligations, and relationships. Often, they can continue to manage areas of their lives, such as family, homes, jobs, and more. 

Functional alcoholics usually struggle with obsessive thoughts about their next drink, cravings, and failure to quit.

9 Signs of a Weekend Alcoholic

There are nine signs and symptoms of a weekend alcoholic. However, even with weekend drinking, it’s possible to become addicted or to form a significant dependency on alcohol.

1. Using Alcohol as a Reward

One sign of weekend alcoholism is when it’s used as a reward system. For example, a person indulging in heavy weekend drinking after a big promotion or exciting life event. 

2. Being Unable to Stop After One Drink

Another sign of weekend alcohol dependence is not being able to stop drinking. Once one begins drinking, they may start to crave more drinks, which can quickly add up. 

3. Feeling Guilty

Waking up with guilt after a night of weekend drinking may signify weekend binge drinking. Also, if a person sets a goal to only have one or two drinks but instead drinks all weekend long, they may have an issue with their alcohol consumption.

Sometimes, weekend drinkers find themselves stuck in a cycle: drinking alcohol to excess, experiencing guilt the day after, then repeating the process the following weekend. 

4. Acting Differently Sober vs. Drinking

A weekend alcoholic may act differently sober than after alcohol consumption. Weekend drinking to help ease the anxiety of social situations may be considered an alcohol use disorder (AUD). It could also imply that they’re self-medicating. 

5. Drinking to Maintain a Buzz or Stay Tipsy

The need or desire to drink alcohol from morning until night to avoid a preexisting hangover may be another sign of an AUD.

6. Failing to Succeed at Work

Failure to succeed at work and the inability to advance in a career due to heavy weekend drinking is a sign of weekend alcoholism.

A weekend drinker may call out of work often. Or, they may be unable to operate at work professionally on a Monday after a big weekend of drinking.

7. Drinking Consumes Thoughts

Someone who is a weekend alcoholic often looks forward to the weekend specifically so they can consume alcoholic beverages. Unfortunately, this may cause unwanted thoughts and cravings for alcohol throughout the week.

8. It’s Negatively Affecting Relationships 

Weekend drinking may negatively affect relationships with family and friends. This may be due to different behavior while drunk or an inability to make time for loved ones.

9. Lying About Drinking Habits

Lying about drinking habits may point to being embarrassed by how much a person consumes. Often, this points to a struggle with alcohol intake on the weekends.

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Risks of Being a Weekend Alcoholic

Although weekend alcoholics only usually indulge in heavy drinking on the weekends, there are still health risks. In addition, drinking more than four drinks in a night can increase the chances of addiction, leading to the need for addiction treatment.

Some risks of being a weekend alcoholic include:

  • Alcohol poisoning 
  • More extreme alcohol use disorder
  • The need for addiction treatment
  • Adverse effects on a person's life
  • Liver problems and illness
  • Trouble with the law
  • Increased risk of injury and accidents

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8 Ways to Curb Alcohol Use

There are eight ways to help curb alcohol use if a person believes their drinking habits on the weekend are excessive.

1. Redirect Reward Systems

Consider other solutions other than alcohol to reward life accomplishments. This could include taking a trip or an exciting purchase.

2. Set Goals

Choose a set number of drinks to consume when indulging in alcohol.

3. Keep a Diary

A diary may help track the number of drinks consumed daily or weekly.

4. Don’t Keep Alcohol in the House

Avoid storing alcohol in the house to make it less readily available.

5. Slow Down

Try to consciously slow down the rate of drinking. This may help reduce the number of drinks you consume.

6. Keep an Eye Out for Peer Pressure

Avoid people or scenarios where it will be hard to avoid weekend binge drinking. Create space between people who may peer pressure others to drink.

7. Ask for Support

Ask family and friends for support to help slow down drinking habits. Also, consider attending group therapy programs to engage with like-minded people.

8. Pick up New Hobbies

Stay busy. Pick new hobbies that may help replace other activities where drinking occurs typically.

Summary

The way people consume alcohol and the different levels of abuse are a broad spectrum. Weekend alcoholics fall in line somewhere between binge drinkers and heavy drinkers. Often, they participate in some level of heavy and binge drinking combined. 

Although some consider weekend drinking casual, it can often be classified as alcohol abuse. If weekend drinking seems like a problem, contact a professional. 

If you think you may have a problem with drinking, go to an open AA meeting and talk to some alcoholics there. See if you recognize any similarities.

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Updated on September 29, 2022
5 sources cited
  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. 2021. Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. www.samhsa.gov/data.
  2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “Dietary Guidelines for Alcohol”. www.cdc.gov. 2022.
  3. Courtney KE, Polich J. “Binge drinking in young adults: Data, definitions, and determinants”. Psychol Bull. 2009 Jan.
  4. Lau-Barraco C, Braitman AL, Linden-Carmichael AN, Stamates AL. “Differences in weekday versus weekend drinking among nonstudent emerging adults.” Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2016 Apr.
  5. Molina PE, Nelson S. Binge Drinking's Effects on the Body. Alcohol Res. 2018.

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