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Binge Drinking Vs. Alcoholism | Is There A Difference?

Published on May 28, 2021
Binge Drinking Vs. Alcoholism | Is There A Difference?

Alcoholism is another name for alcohol use disorder (AUD), whereas binge drinking involves excessive alcohol consumption in a short timeframe. A key difference is that most binge drinkers do not suffer from alcoholism or AUD

Binge Drinking Vs. Alcoholism

Binge drinking is the pattern of excessive drinking that increases your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to .08 percent or higher. This type of drinking happens within 2 hours and is when females drink 4 or more drinks and males drink 5 or more drinks within that given time.

Alcoholism is when alcohol dependence has occurred, resulting in the person having no ability to control their drinking. 

Alcoholism is a chronic condition characterized by when a person has lost the ability to control their drinking, has developed a tolerance for alcohol, and spends most of their time drinking despite negative consequences. 

Is A Binge Drinker An Alcoholic?

A binge drinker is not an alcoholic, nor is an alcoholic necessarily a binge drinker. For instance, a binge drinker may consume large amounts of alcohol during the weekend, but not require a drink during the week. 

Alcoholics, however, show a pattern of continual alcohol abuse. Those suffering from alcoholism will likely spend a lot of time drinking or constantly thinking about their next alcoholic drink. A binge drinker can go days without thinking about or imbibing alcohol.

Binge Drinking 

Drinking too many alcoholic beverages within a short time frame can result in unintended consequences. Those who drink alcohol quickly may feel the effects sooner and in larger quantities. 

Binge drinking alcohol affects the tissues of the body and can even compromise your immune system.

Risk Of Alcohol Poisoning

Those who binge drink should be concerned about the risk of alcohol poisoning which can occur when the consumption of alcohol takes place within a short amount of time. Binge drinking may also lead to violence, unintended pregnancies, car crashes, and other injuries and accidents.

Alcoholism 

An alcoholic may exhibit multiple drinking habits. Heavy drinkers may experience the following:

  • continuing to drink despite warnings of family and friends
  • difficulty sleeping
  • family issues
  • job concerns
  • the constant need to drink more

Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol use disorder or alcoholism involves developing alcohol dependence, or when you need a drink to function. Quitting alcohol cold turkey can cause withdrawal symptoms, which may require alcohol rehab, addiction treatment, or detox support

The Dangers Of Binge Drinking & Heavy Alcohol Use

Although different, both binge drinking and alcoholism pose serious concerns to your physical and mental health. On top of this, there are a number of serious long-term health problems that can occur from consistent binge or heavy drinking, including:

  • heart disease
  • liver disease
  • memory problems
  • high blood pressure
  • Cancer

Someone with alcohol use disorder is at a much higher risk of developing these health conditions than someone who binge drinks every once in a while. However, consistent binge drinking can increase the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Professional Help For Alcohol Addiction

If you or a loved one struggles with substance abuse or you think you may have a drinking problem, don’t hesitate to contact our helpline. We can help you through addiction recovery while you participate in an outpatient or inpatient program at one of our treatment centers.

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Binge Drinking
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Data on Excessive Drinking
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - Drinking Levels Defined
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - What is Binge Drinking?
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - Alcohol Misuse
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - Alcohol Use: Facts & Resources

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