The Differences between an Alcoholic and a Binge Drinker
Alcoholism is a disease defined by reckless or uncontrolled consumption of alcohol. Alcoholism is an addiction to alcohol, succumbing to the physical cravings it creates and drinking excessively or without consideration of the consequences. Binge drinking, on the other hand, is an action that involves drinking in excess, typically to the point of illness and serious hangover.
Some people can binge drink to the point of alcohol toxicity, which can land a person in the hospital or even kill them. While some alcoholics are binge drinkers, not all binge drinkers are alcoholics. It is important to understand this distinction. It is also important to know that both of these things are serious problems that have to be addressed regardless of whether or not your drinking habit has become “alcoholism.” There is help available (800-303-2482).
What is Binge Drinking?
Binge drinking is defined as a common pattern of excess alcohol use. Binge drinking, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, is a pattern of excessive drinking that brings the blood alcohol concentration or BAC of a person to 0.08 grams percent and higher. For the typical woman this is going to take four or more drinks in a span of two hours. For the typical male this is going to require approximately five drinks or more in a two hour span.
Facts about Alcoholism
- Most of the people that binge drink are not actually alcoholics or alcohol dependent.
- Approximately 92% of the United States adults that drink on an excessive basis have reported binge drinking at least once in a 30 day period.
- 70 percent of the people who are binge drinking in the United States are over the age of 26.
- Men tend to binge drink more often than women do.
- Binge drinkers are more likely to engage in reckless activities such as alcohol impaired driving as compared to non-binge drinkers.
- Approximately 90 percent of all underage drinking comes in the form of binge drinking.
- Binge drinking is associated with a number of different health problems. Some of these health problems include poor control of diabetes, sexual dysfunction, neurological damage, liver disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, children born with fetal alcohol syndrome, unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, alcohol poisoning, domestic violence, sexual assault, firearm injuries and other intentional injuries, car accidents, burns, drowning, falls and other unintentional injuries.
- Binge drinking is a serious problem in the United States simply because so many people are engaging in it. People are drinking to excess, to the point where their judgment is lowered and they are acting without thinking. This is how drunk driving accidents happen, how people get seriously hurt. When you binge drink you can hurt not only yourself, but the people all around you as well. The primary problem with binge drinking is that you are drinking to the point of drunkenness, and being drunk is simply not safe.
Alcoholism is a completely different type of problem. Alcoholism is being classified as a disease, though it is defined as the physical dependence on alcohol and its reckless use without considering the consequences. The problem with alcoholism is that it sneaks up on the user. What begins as a social drinking thing eventually transforms into drinking for other reasons.
Before you know it you are drinking to deal with anxiety and stress or depression, and the alcohol is only masking the problems rather than correcting them. Alcoholism is something that builds gradually over time, and it often takes a lot of self-reflection to acknowledge that one has become an alcoholic.
Alcoholism is quickly becoming a serious problem throughout the United States, ranking as a serious threat to health along with heart disease and cancer. Alcoholism is a progressive type of disease where the drinking is going to increasingly affect the drinker’s health, their family, their social life, their job and other aspects of their life. When left untreated, alcoholism is a disease that is capable of resulting in physical incapacity and even death. It is estimated that around 10.5 million people in the United States alone are suffering from alcoholism.
One out of every ten people that begin drinking will eventually deal with alcoholism. There is an alcohol related problem in one out of every four family homes in America. Individuals who are related to alcoholics need to get help and support just as much as the alcoholic individual.
Alcoholism is entirely treatable. Recovery rates are currently between 65 percent and 80 percent through effective treatments for alcoholism. Alcoholics Anonymous is a support group, for example, that has a world membership exceeding two million people across 93,000 different groups. As many as eight percent of alcoholics that are sober between one and five years will continue to remain part of the Alcoholics Anonymous fellowship.
Someone who is recovering from alcoholism should never drink again. No drink is a safe drink when you have had an experience with this disease in the past. Still, someone who is recovering or who has recovered from alcoholism can still lead a very productive life as long as he or she practices complete abstinence from drinking.
The Differences between Binge Drinking and Alcoholism
If you feel that you have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, you need to decide if you are simply binge drinking or drinking excessively, or if you are really and truly an alcoholic. There is a huge difference not only in terms of the implications and consequences, but also how you can treat the problem. Binge drinking is easier to deal with than alcoholism.
Alcoholism is an actual disease, but because binge drinking denotes an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, many people consider binge drinking to be a form of alcoholism or at the very least a precursor to it. Someone who is binge drinking on a regular basis is probably already well on their way to becoming an alcoholic. Over time, what was once binge drinking for fun will become binge drinking just to cope with stressors or to get through the day. Nobody who becomes an alcoholic actually intended to get to that point, it simply happens gradually with time, often without being noticed.
If you are not sure whether you are a binge drinker, an alcoholic or something else entirely, then you should speak to a medical professional or a counselor about your issues. Someone who is well trained in alcoholism and related subjects will be able to sit down with you and help you determine exactly what is going on with you.
Sometimes getting this answer is the most important first step in getting help for your problem so make sure that you take it seriously and that you make a promise to yourself to get the help that you need. The right amount of dedication and a willingness to overcome your unhealthy relationship with alcohol will go a very long way in guaranteeing that you can overcome your alcoholism or binge drinking problem once and for all.