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Weekend Alcoholism: Signs and Symptoms to Watch For

Weekend Alcoholism: Signs and Symptoms to Watch For

Excessive drinking on the weekends, such as binge, heavy, and high-intensity drinking, can be a sign of alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Drinking on the weekends is a common activity since most people are off from work and use this time to relax and socialize. Although weekend drinking is socially acceptable and sometimes even encouraged, that does not mean it is without risk. Despite drinking only on the weekends, a person can still develop alcohol dependence. Find out if you or someone you know may be a weekend alcoholic and if professional help is needed. 

If you struggle with binge drinking on the weekends, Confidant Health’s online alcohol rehab can help you reclaim your weekends for healthy, nourishing activities instead. Our medication-assisted treatment for alcohol use provides you with the resources you need to minimize withdrawal symptoms and address triggers for weekend drinking. Download our app today to learn more.

What Is a Weekend Alcoholic?

The American Psychological Association defines a weekend alcoholic as someone who "drinks alcohol to intoxication during weekends but drinks little or not at all during the week." In most states, intoxication is considered as having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more, deeming a person unable to operate a vehicle legally. 

Signs of a Weekend Alcoholic

Since regularly drinking on the weekends is socially accepted, you may not realize when your drinking behavior has crossed over into weekend alcoholism or alcohol use disorder (AUD). Some signs that your weekend drinking may qualify as alcohol dependence are:

Excessive Drinking

Even if you only drink on the weekends, excessive drinking once or twice a week can be a sign that you may need help for alcohol dependence. Excessive drinking behaviors include binge drinking, heavy drinking, and high-intensity drinking.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) deems binge drinking as having five or more drinks on an occasion—within two hours—for men and four or more drinks for women.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heavy drinking is considered to be more than 14 drinks per week for men and more than seven for women.

High-intensity drinking is described as consuming two or three times the amount of drinks as binge drinking. This means that a man having ten or more drinks on an occasion or a woman having eight or more would qualify as high-intensity drinking.

Acting Different When Drinking

Excessive drinking can lead you to behave differently than you would when sober. Alcohol can impair your judgment, leaving you more susceptible to doing or saying things you usually wouldn't. You may engage in risky behaviors, such as driving while intoxicated, operating machinery, getting into physical altercations, or having unsafe sex. 

Regret or Anxiety After Drinking

Excessive drinking can impair your decision-making skills and reduce inhibitions, making you more likely to act out of character. If you binge drink or drink heavily on the weekends, you may worry the next day about what you said or did while intoxicated. And if you experience alcohol-induced blackouts while drinking, you may not remember what happened the night before. This can lead to hangxiety or hangover anxiety, feelings of worry, guilt, and shame alongside a typical hangover.

Hiding or Lying About Alcohol Consumption

If you worry deep down that your alcohol consumption is excessive, even though it is only on the weekends, you may try to downplay or hide how much alcohol you drink to avoid criticism from others. It's also possible that you may be in denial that there is a problem, so you try to convince yourself that the amount you're drinking is a normal part of weekend socializing. If you feel the need to lie to others about how much you drink, it could be a sign of a more serious issue such as alcohol use disorder.

Prioritizing Drinking

Another sign of weekend alcoholism is prioritizing drinking over other responsibilities and activities. If you reserve drinking for the weekends, you may forgo other hobbies that take time away from alcohol consumption. You might also miss out on get-togethers with family or healthy activities like hiking, biking, and going to the gym because you are often hungover on Saturdays or Sundays.

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Risks of Weekend Alcohol Misuse

If others in your social circle also drink excessively on the weekends, the behavior can become normalized, making it easier to deny there is a problem or overlook the risks. 

Worsening or Triggering Mental Health Disorders

If you have a mental health condition like depression or anxiety, binge drinking on the weekends can make your symptoms worse. Alcohol disrupts levels of brain neurotransmitters like gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), dopamine, and serotonin, which are responsible for feelings of calm, motivation, and happiness. When your brain becomes dependent on alcohol, it reduces the production of these neurotransmitters. If you suddenly cut off alcohol, you'll experience a noticeable drop in mood, and your anxiety and depression symptoms will worsen. Over time, excessive drinking can even trigger mental health conditions in people who weren't already struggling with them. 

Overdosing on Alcohol

Excessive drinking on the weekends can increase the risk of an alcohol overdose. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that slows down brain activity. High doses of alcohol can slow your breathing and heart rate to dangerously low levels. Some signs of alcohol overdose include a bluish tint to lips or fingernails, vomiting, choking, limpness, clammy skin, unresponsiveness, and loss of consciousness.

Developing Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

AUD is more about the quantity you drink than how often you drink. Limiting your drinking to the weekends does not protect you from alcohol use disorder. The NIAAA describes alcohol use disorder as continuing to consume alcohol despite experiencing adverse effects on your job, relationships, and health. Excessive drinking on Friday and Saturday nights can do just as much damage to your life as engaging in this drinking behavior throughout the week.

Weekend Drinking Frequently Asked Questions

How much is too much alcohol for the weekend?

Drinking in moderation can help prevent alcohol use disorder and the adverse effects of excessive drinking. The NIAAA defines moderate drinking as two or fewer drinks per day for men and one or fewer for women. Consuming more than this on the weekend can lead to hangovers, hangxiety, health issues, problems at home or work, and alcohol dependence.

Is it okay to get drunk once a week?

Drinking alcohol once a week can still be detrimental to your health and put you at risk of developing alcohol use disorder if you engage in excessive drinking behaviors like binge, heavy, or high-intensity drinking. 

Is binge drinking once a week alcohol use disorder?

Binge drinking once a week can be a sign of alcohol use disorder. Your brain can become dependent on alcohol, and you can develop a tolerance, requiring larger amounts of alcohol to achieve the same effects. If you binge drink once a week—five or more drinks within two hours for men and four or more for women—and cannot moderate your consumption or quit despite the consequences, it may be time to talk to your provider about AUD.

How to Stop Weekend Drinking

The best way to prevent or recover from weekend alcoholism is to abstain from alcohol altogether. By implementing a few lifestyle changes, you can reduce your risk of developing AUD from weekend drinking. Here are some tips to stop drinking excessively on the weekends:

Plan active outings.

Focusing on your health over the weekends can reduce the urge to drink and remove you from settings where people typically consume alcohol. Schedule a hike, bike ride, or walking tour to help you get outside, stay active, and support your health.

Arrange a spa day.

Practicing good self-care can help alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression, all of which can lead to the urge to self-medicate with alcohol. Make an appointment for a massage, facial, mani-pedi, or session at the float spa to help you relax and take your mind off your problems.

Take up a new hobby or project.

Learn how to do something new to fill your weekends, so you don't feel bored and tempted to drink. Enroll in dance lessons, attend cooking classes, or try your hand at some home renovations. 

Get a side gig.

Staying busy is important when you are trying to avoid weekend drinking. Starting a side gig can keep you occupied and help you earn some extra money.

Plan activities that don't revolve around alcohol.

If you don't want to cut alcohol completely out of your life but want to stop drinking excessively on the weekends, you can try practicing moderate drinking instead. This can be much easier when you plan activities that aren't centered around alcohol. Find fun things to do that keep you engaged so you don't feel tempted to get another round of drinks. Some ideas are going to the movies, a sporting event, a murder mystery dinner, or an escape room.

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How to Help a Loved One with a Drinking Problem

If someone you care about is at risk of weekend alcoholism, it's important to talk to them about their drinking before it gets worse. It may feel uncomfortable bringing up this sensitive topic, but here are some tips to help you speak with a loved one about their weekend binge drinking:

  • Pick a time to talk to them when they are not drinking or preoccupied with other things. It's best to speak with someone about their drinking when they are calm and focused.
  • Express your concern for their well-being and try not to come across as accusatory. If the person feels attacked, they may get defensive or angry.
  • Ask the person if there's anything going on in their life that they want to talk about. Excessive drinking is a common form of self-medication when people struggle with stress, trauma, grief, or mental health conditions. 
  • Be a good listener. Avoid interrupting and allow the person to talk without fear of judgment.
  • Encourage them to seek professional help if they cannot cut back on their drinking. You can offer to help them find a treatment program and even accompany them to appointments if that would make them feel more comfortable.

If your loved one shuts down when you try to talk to them about your concerns about their excessive drinking, you may need to set up an intervention. Reach out to addiction treatment specialists for advice on interventions and how best to support someone with an alcohol use disorder.

Stop Binge Drinking on the Weekends with Confidant Health's Virtual Alcohol Rehab 

Binge drinking every weekend can rob you of the time you need to relax and refresh before the new work week. But cutting back on drinking is easier said than done. With Confidant Health’s online alcohol rehab, you can get back in control of how much you drink. Download our app today to schedule an assessment and find out if our online medication-assisted treatment for alcohol use is right for you.

This article has been medically reviewed by
Erin Hillers
Erin Hillers
Erin Hillers
Nurse Practitioner

Erin is a Nurse Practitioner with 8 years of experience in midwifery and women's health. She has spent the past 5 years specializing in the treatment of opioid and alcohol use disorders.

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