Binge Drinking vs Alcoholism: What’s the Difference?

Although alcohol is socially accepted, it is still a drug that, when used irresponsibly, can severely impact your health and well-being. Some of the most common outcomes of alcohol abuse include binge drinking and alcoholism. But what’s the difference between the two? These are very distinct terms that encompass their own set of behaviors.

If you need a safe space to stay sober, our sober living environment at The Sanctuary Recovery Foundation may be right for you. Contact us and learn how we can help. 

What is Binge Drinking?

As defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking is, “a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 percent—or 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter—or higher.”

In plain terms, it is essentially drinking alcohol with the intention of getting drunk. Those who binge drink may only consume alcohol a few times a week, but when they do, they drink significantly more than recommended. Even doing so once is still considered a “binge.”

As a general rule, females should consume only one standard drink per hour, while men should consume only two standard drinks per hour. A standard drink is defined as a drink that contains approximately 14 grams of alcohol. Abiding by these recommendations is intended to keep your BAC levels below 0.05%.

What is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is a disease, as stated by the American Medical Association. When you are addicted to alcohol, dramatic physical and chemical changes are made to your brain which prohibit you from controlling your drinking habits. The brain requires more and more of the substance to experience its effects, so the addicted continues to increase their intake to dangerous levels. Although the alcoholic may get into trouble legally, financially, or at work due to their intoxication, they likely find they are still unable to control their habits.

Because the brain is severely changed, when the addicted is not drinking, the brain craves and requires the drug in order to reach what it now considers a “normal” state. In addition, alcoholics will likely experience withdrawal symptoms when they have not had a drink for a substantial period of time.

The Primary Difference

The primary difference between binge drinking and alcoholism is that one is a chosen behavior, while the other is a medical disease in which one cannot help. However, it is possible that binge drinking, when done consistently over a period of time, can develop into alcoholism. But, it is not considered an addiction until it becomes a behavior in which the user has no control over due to chemical brain changes.

Consider The Sanctuary Recovery Foundation

We hope you better understand the difference between binge drinking and alcoholism. If you feel that you need assistance pursuing your sobriety, The Sanctuary Recovery Foundation is here for you. A sober living environment will allow you to recover in a supportive, understanding community. To learn more, contact us to discover how we can provide the help you need.