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Project Recovery: Does binge drinking make me an alcoholic?

Dr. Matt Woolley and Casey Scott, the hosts of Project Recovery. (Photo: KSL Newsradio)

In this episode of the Project Recovery podcast, Dr. Matt Woolley and Casey Scott discuss binge drinking.

No person is above destructive behaviors like alcohol addiction. Dr. Matt Woolley says even doctors and nurses have a high rate of substance abuse.

Every person needs to know how to determine if their behavior is becoming problematic.

Dr. Woolley says every person needs an appropriate way to unwind after work, to de-stress in a healthy way.

People can’t just make stress go away, he says.

Casey Scott says we should all take time each day to do self-love and self-care.

“If I’m not doing good for me, I can’t do good for anyone else,” Woolley says.

Meditation is a way to bring a calming time of your day into your daily, stressful routine.

Not drinking around social drinkers

In this episode of the podcast, Scott describes going to a couple Easter parties with his girlfriend. It was the first time since leaving rehab that he had been around others who were drinking.

Scott says he felt awkward. What Scott didn’t want is for people to look at him as though he was broken or weak.

Going to work party at a club, Scott felt like people were surprised that he would come to a party where alcohol was being served.

Scott told them, “I’m just here for the party.”

Scott says he feels that being a recovering alcoholic does not mean he is unable to go to any parties ever again.

He didn’t want to feel that he was being treated like that.

Woolley and Scott agree that Scott couldn’t give up his whole career, a career that often involved being around alcohol, just because he was in recovery.

Fixing the problem

Avoiding situations where alcohol is served doesn’t fix the problem, Scott says, it is just avoiding the problem.

“The problem wasn’t the alcohol. The problem was me and why I was drinking and what I was doing,” Scott says.

Woolley says in behavior change the change does not happen by merely eliminating a behavior.

“People are successful in changing difficult behaviors when they don’t just stop something but they replace it,” Woolley says.

Putting yourself in danger is not a wise decision, they agree.

“If it felt dangerous I wouldn’t do it,” Scott says.

Binge drinking

Scott says that when he was drinking he wasn’t drinking every day. When he did drink, he says, he drank to an excess.

Woolley says it is a misnomer to believe that a person isn’t an alcoholic if the person doesn’t drink every day.

He says binge drinking is a type of alcoholism.

A technical definition of binge drinking, Woolley says, is reaching a blood alcohol level at or above .08 in under two hours.

Nationwide, fourteen percent of teenagers are drinking. Teens who start out binge drinking carry that behavior into their adulthood.

Developmental delay and brain damage occurs among young drinkers, Woolley says.

The legal drinking age is 21. Much of the brain has developed by age 21, Woolley says.

Woolley recommends helping kids learn how to manage stress and anxiety in a fun, healthy way.

Meditation, hiking, and other healthy activities can help kids learn how manage stress without resorting to substance abuse.


Resources for those suffering from addiction

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