Have you ever woken up with a pounding headache after one too many drinks at a party or gathering? Most of us have been there, but despite it not being OK, it doesn’t necessarily represent a serious problem.
Or does it? At what point does social drinking turn into binge drinking? And what’s the difference between binge drinking and alcoholism?
Well, grab a drink (non-alcoholic!), and sit back. Because we are going to explore what it means to consume alcohol in excess and clarify the difference between binge drinking and alcoholism.
What Does it Mean to Binge Drink?
Consuming several drinks within a short time frame is defined as “binge drinking.” To be precise, binge drinking refers to drinking four or more drinks on one occasion for men and five for women.
When drinking too much, blood alcohol levels can rise to dangerous levels, which can lead to blackouts, vomiting, and even passing out; however, the number of drinks consumed is only a rough estimate.
Depending on an individual’s weight, height, and tolerance, their threshold will vary greatly. Consequently, two or three drinks may be enough to reach a dangerous level of alcohol in the blood.
Binge Drinking Risks
Alcoholism and binge drinking are very different while at the same time very similar. The risks of binge drinking are very close to those of alcoholism. The following are some of the most common risks associated with binge drinking:
- Accidents, crashes, and injuries while intoxicated
- Risk of violence
- Risk of STDs
- Unintended pregnancy or miscarriage
- Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Liver disease
- Memory problems
- Other unintended consequences such as missing out on work or acting in ways that one may regret
Difference Between Binge Drinking and Alcoholism
Let’s examine some key differences between binge drinking and alcoholism now that we have a better understanding of what each is.
Ultimately, binge drinking can be as dangerous as alcoholism except it lacks some of its addictive characteristics. Binge drinking causes all the same problems as being severely intoxicated.
For example, taking part in car accidents, fighting, and running into the law are common for cases of alcoholism and binge drinking.
But, there is one major difference between the two: alcoholism causes physical dependence. Binge drinking does not include withdrawal symptoms; however, that does not make it less deadly. Alcoholism can develop from binge drinking.
Symptoms and behaviors unique to an alcoholic may include:
- A desire to stop drinking but being unable to do so
- Feeling angry or irritated if the alcohol runs out
- Hiding drinking habits from others
- Strong alcohol cravings
Mild symptoms such as:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Visual and auditory disturbances
Severe and life-threatening symptoms such as:
- Delirium tremens
- Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome
- Depression and suicidal thoughts
- Sleep disturbances
- Cardiovascular complications
Alcohol abuse and binge drinking are two different things, but that doesn’t mean binge drinking is any less dangerous. Approximately one out of six Americans suffer from binge drinking.
It might be difficult for binge drinkers to accept that their behavior is a problem and they can get help if they want it.
Regardless of whether a person is an alcoholic, they should seek help if their drinking becomes a problem.
With 90210 Recovery, alcoholics and binge drinkers can get their lives back on track. As part of our rehabilitation services, we offer both inpatient and outpatient treatment options.
It doesn’t matter which treatment option is best for you. We have a rehab that can help.
For more information about alcohol rehab, contact us today.