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What is the Difference Between Binge Drinking and Alcoholism?

How many drinks are too many drinks?

You may be a person who likes to go out and have a few drinks to unwind. When compared to others, your alcohol intake may seem a bit excessive. While you may nurse a hangover the next morning and may have difficulty recalling the events of the night before, you can adequately perform your job and can meet your family obligations. Is your drinking behavior binge drinking, or does your behavior indicate you may be an alcoholic?

Is there a difference between binge drinking and alcoholism, or are there more similarities than differences?

This article will define both binge drinking and alcoholism as well as the difference between binge drinking and alcoholism. Additionally, this article will answer the question if binge drinkers are alcoholics. If you need help with your problem drinking, Sequoia Detox Centers can help. Our evidence-based outpatient treatment programs are effective, proven to work, and customized to meet your needs. Call Sequoia Detox Centers today and learn more about our drug and alcohol detox center in Spokane, WA.

Defining Binge Drinking and Alcoholism

When talking about binge drinking vs alcoholism, it is important to have solid definitions of each condition. As defined by The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse, binge drinking is a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08%—or 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter—or more. To reach this blood concentration, men would have to consume 5 drinks or more in a two-hour period, while women would have to consume 4 or more drinks in the same period. Binge drinking is one type of excess drinking, but accounts for over 90 percent of all excessive drinking.

On the other hand, alcoholism is a condition when one can no longer control their use of alcohol, compulsively abuse alcohol, despite its negative ramifications, or experience emotional distress when they are not drinking. Alcoholism is seen as a chronic and relapsing disease characterized by the following:

  • Using alcohol in higher amounts or for a longer time than originally intended.
  • Being unable to cut down on alcohol use despite a desire to do so.
  • Spending a lot of time obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of alcohol.
  • Cravings or a strong desire to use alcohol.
  • Being unable to fulfill major obligations at home, work, or school because of alcohol use.
  • · Giving up previously enjoyed social, occupational, or recreational activities because of alcohol use.
  • Continuing to abuse alcohol despite the presence of a psychological or physical problem that is probably due to alcohol use.
  • Developing symptoms of withdrawal when efforts are made to stop using alcohol.

What is the Difference Between Binge Drinking and Alcoholism?

On the surface, both binge drinking and alcoholism are considered alcohol use disorders. There are a few key differences between binge drinking and alcoholism that must be noted:

  • Binge drinkers are not necessarily physically addicted to alcohol. Binge drinkers often go days or even weeks between binge drinking episodes. While they enjoy heavy drinking, it is something they can go without and not feel tremendous anxiety. On the other hand, alcoholics engage in heavy drinking daily and are physically and psychologically dependent on alcohol.
  • Binge drinkers tend to drink in the late afternoons or early evenings and like the excitement of social gatherings and events. On the other hand, those who experience alcoholism tend to drink alone and in isolation.
  • People who binge drink are at greater risk of developing health issues such as alcohol poisoning, increased sexually transmitted diseases, greater risk of injuries due to slips and falls, and sexual dysfunction. Alcoholics are at greater risk of developing chronic diseases such as cancer, liver damage, seizures, malnutrition, heart disease, and mental illnesses such as depression.

Some ask the question, are binge drinkers alcoholics? While binge drinkers can have larger gaps between drinking episodes, their excessive drinking is a slippery slope that can lead to alcoholism down the road. This is especially true given that binge drinkers cannot cut down or stop drinking altogether. It is essential for people who binge drink to seek professional help as soon as possible.

Address Your Problem Drinking With Help from Sequoia Detox Centers

Excessive drinking can snowball into problem drinking in a blink of an eye. If you or a loved one are dealing with binge drinking or alcohol misuse disorder, today is the day you seek professional help. As one of the premier detox rehabs in the Pacific Northwest, Sequoia Detox Centers is renowned for evidence-based treatment programs that are extensively tested and proven to work. Our experienced treatment staff works with you and every client in designing a treatment plan that perfectly fits your unique needs.

Don’t wait another day to deal with your problem drinking; call Sequoia Detox Centers toll-free today and start your journey to lasting sobriety.

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