An alcoholic bender is a period of time during which an individual engages in excessive alcohol consumption and experiences associated negative consequences. In the context of alcoholism and other substance use disorders, it is often used to refer to periods during which drinking causes significant disruption in the user’s life due to loss of control over consumption or behavior. There are many misconceptions about what constitutes an alcoholic bender, with some believing it does not exist. This article aims to dispel these myths by examining what an alcoholic bender is and how it can be identified.
Understanding an Alcoholic Bender
When you hear the word “bender,” it’s likely that someone is talking about a heavy drinking session. The term can describe any period of time where one drinks heavily, but it most commonly refers to a distinct event in which an individual consumes more alcohol than usual.
If you’re experiencing a bender, you might notice that you’re drinking more than usual and drinking until you’re drunk. You may also be feeling guilty about your drinking, depressed about it, nervous about it, sick because of it, or ashamed.
Alcoholic benders can last as little as 24 hours or for more than a week.
Am I an Alcoholic If I Go on a Bender?
Someone who’s never “gone on a bender” before might not be an alcoholic, and it could be more serious than they realize. A person who drinks heavily on occasion might not be an alcoholic—but if they drink all the time, they may want to consider talking with someone about their use of alcohol.
If you’re unsure whether or not your drinking is problematic, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I sometimes drink more than I intended?
- Have my friends, or family members expressed concern about my drinking?
- Has anyone tried to get me help for alcohol use?
What Causes an Alcoholic Bender?
A bender is a period of time in which a person drinks heavily, often to the point of intoxication. A bender can last anywhere from one night to several days. The causes of an alcoholic bender are not always clear, but certain factors can increase your risk of having one. These include:
- Family history of alcoholism
- Trauma or abuse
- Depression and anxiety
- Periods of extreme stress or anxiety
How Can I Tell If Someone Is on an Alcoholic Bender?
The most common physical and behavioral signs that someone’s been on an alcoholic bender include:
- Tiredness. Alcoholics may appear tired because they drank all night or hungover from the previous night’s bender.
- Heavy use of mouthwash or hand sanitizer. Alcoholics often use these products to cover up their breath or body odor after excessive drinking and prevent vomiting during a hangover that may come from nights spent drinking.
- Blackouts or poor memory. If your loved one starts acting confused about where they were last night or what they did with their friends throughout their evening, this could be a sign that they’re having trouble recalling details due to blackouts caused by too much alcohol consumption.
- Unsupported excuses. If something happened during or after the alcoholic bender episode, they’d likely come up with unsupported excuses to back up their behavior. When someone keeps making excuses for their drinking habits, it’s more likely to be something more complicated.
Warning Signs You’re About to Go on a Bender
The first drink is the most dangerous for an alcoholic because it sets them off the road of more drinks. Everything looks normal and fine when you’re in the middle of an alcoholic bender. You may feel like you’re in control, but that’s just because you’re too drunk to realize how far gone you actually are.
Usually, a bender starts with occasional drinks, but some warning signs you’re about to go on a full-blown bender include:
- Something inside you is telling you that this isn’t going to end well
- You’ve already had a few drinks, but you’re not yet feeling the buzz
- You’re starting to feel the effects of the alcohol, and they don’t feel good
- You begin drinking faster to try to catch up with your friends or fellow party goers who are already feeling a buzz
- You’re starting to feel overwhelmed by the effects of alcohol
Getting Help for Alcohol Abuse
If you or someone you know is often going on alcoholic benders, consider speaking with an alcohol addiction specialist. They can help the best course of treatment to address alcohol use disorders and help you find the right road to recovery.