1 (800) 543-9905   or   Submit a Confidential Inquiry
We admit 7 days a week
Same day admissions possible - Most insurance accepted

What is the Difference Between Binge Drinking and Alcoholism

Serenity Lane Treatment Center
Home What is the Difference Between Binge Drinking and Alcoholism

Common thinking states that someone who suffers from alcoholism also participates in binge drinking and vice versa. After all, it stands to reason that someone who has a physical dependence on alcohol would want as much of the substance as possible right?

Are Binge Drinking and Alcoholism One and the Same?

In this article, we will delve into the differences between binge drinking and alcoholism and why the two may or may not be interconnected by using a story involving two best friends entering college. Before we get into the true-to-life scenario, we must first have a basic understanding of these two terms.

How to Spot the Difference Between the Two

To understand how these two issues relate to one another, it is important to first define them.

Binge Drinking:

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 g/dl, the legal limit, or above. This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks or women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours.

Alcoholism:

The National Mayo Clinic defines alcoholism, also called alcohol use disorder, as a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect, or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking.

Two Friends and Two Outcomes

While the two issues are certainly related, there are some key noteworthy differences. It may be helpful to better understand these differences if we discuss scenarios involving people who suffer from each issue.

To do this, let’s call upon two friends and college students: John and Christopher.

John and Christopher are two buddies that have been friends since middle school and were always fairly respectable students. They were involved in sports teams together in high school and kept their grades up enough to be considered by some of the top schools in Oregon.

Naturally, the two friends were stoked to find out that they’d both been accepted to the same university. They’d be able to continue their adventures together in a whole new environment full of friends, parties, and most importantly, freedom.

While the cool kids in high school would sometimes have a 30-case of beer at their get-togethers, college was a whole other beast. Alcohol flowed freely at parties and, naturally, John and Christopher started to experiment with binge drinking without fear of being reprimanded by their parents. Initially, the worst consequences of partying on the weekend were a slight headache the next morning and embarrassing interactions with the opposite sex.

The two friends would find out that freedom can be a dangerous responsibility. They pass their first semester with A’s and B’s and a newfound sense of identity.

Quickly into their second semester, John starts to notice that Christopher is missing some of the pre-requisite classes that they share. John also starts to receive invitations from Christopher to dorm room parties, not just on the weekends, but during weekdays as well. Christopher starts to value his social interaction over any sort of academic pursuits. Soon enough, Christopher also starts to have a beer first thing in the morning, just to get the day started.

Flash-forward a year and John has placed priority on his studies and very rarely drinks to excess on the weekends. His good friend Christopher has fully adopted the party lifestyle and has dropped out of school. His drinking has become habitual and uncontrollable. Drinking is no longer about having fun for Christopher, it has become a burden. Alcohol has become both a physical and mental dependence and Christopher spends much of his time finding the next party or drinking alone.

Don’t worry, Christopher was able to get the help he needed while recovering from alcohol use disorder, with treatment for alcohol use disorder, but given the content of this story, it’s easy to see how binge drinking and alcoholism aren’t the same issues but they are potentially directly related and one can certainly lead to the other.

Learn more about Serenity Lane’s Treatment Programs here.

Binge Drinking and Alcoholism Are Risky Business

While we know that these two issues aren’t exactly the same, they can certainly share some of the same risk factors and mental health problems.

Binge drinking causes “near-sightedness” in the actions of the drinker. This means that the drinker may not fully understand the consequences of their actions and act solely on immediate satisfaction. Because of this, binge drinkers often see increases in accidents and injuries, alcohol poisoning, unwanted pregnancy or sexual assaults, and sexually transmitted diseases.

These issues may also be present in people who suffer from alcoholism but there are also many more serious risks to consider from the long-term use of alcohol. Along with causing damage to relationships and careers, alcoholism may increase the risk of liver disease, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and neurological problems.

Take the Next Step and Seek Treatment

If you fear you or a loved one are developing alcoholic tendencies or if you are seeking treatment for alcohol abuse, Serenity Lane in Oregon is here to help.

Serenity Lane has been a trusted provider of addiction treatment services since 1973. Our care services combine 46 years of experience with a medically-informed, multidisciplinary care plan. We treat the whole patient and will create a care plan matched to your individual needs.

Call us at 800-543-9905 to speak with an assessment counselor today.

Serenity Lane

FAQs:

Is a binge drinker the same as an alcoholic?

They are not the same as some people who engage in binge drinking may develop a dependency on alcohol but most do not. Some binge drinkers may consume an unhealthy amount of alcohol on the weekends but be able to function perfectly fine without alcohol throughout the week.

What is defined as binge drinking?

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 g/dl, the legal limit, or above. This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks or women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours.

What happens when you binge drink alcohol?

Binge drinking causes “near-sightedness” in the actions of the drinker. This means that the drinker may not fully understand the consequences of their actions and act solely on immediate satisfaction. Because of this, binge drinkers often see increases in accidents and injuries, alcohol poisoning, unwanted pregnancy or sexual assaults, and sexually transmitted diseases.

Non-profit treatment centers for
alcohol and drug addictions.
Treatment facilities located in:

Coburg, Eugene, SE Portland, SW Portland, Salem, Albany, Bend, and Roseburg, OR