What’s The Difference Between Binge Drinking And Alcoholism?


In a modern society where drinking alcohol is a socially acceptable behavior, it’s important to understand the key differences between binge drinking and alcoholism. When you think of alcoholism, you may picture someone older who gets the shakes without consuming alcohol. While that is partially accurate, it is not the definition of alcoholism. Binge drinking and alcoholism are two separate but equally dangerous behaviors. 

While each individual person has their own limits for the amount of alcohol they can safely consume, certain patterns of behavior can cause concern. How much alcohol is too much and how often is too often? Alcohol lowers inhibitions causing you to make riskier decisions. When it starts altering your behavior, then it’s probably time to stop drinking. Understanding the differences between binge drinking and alcoholism as well as the dangers of both behaviors can help you make better choices going forward. 

What is binge drinking?

Binge drinking has multiple definitions. Basically, it amounts to a pattern of behavior that includes episodes of heavy drinking and then a period of abstinence. When someone drinks more than a safe amount of alcohol in a short period of time, they are considered a binge drinker. 

Binge drinking often changes behavior and leads to unintended consequences. Binge drinkers may vomit, black out, or pass out. When they black out their body is still functioning, but they have no idea what they are doing. A binge drinker who has blacked out or passed out is at serious risk for alcohol poisoning or even death. 

What is alcoholism?

Alcoholism is now called Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) and it is a serious chronic disease. People suffering from AUD continue to drink despite the negative effects of alcohol. This is a long-term decision to continue consuming alcohol even though it is devastating your physical and emotional well-being. Alcoholism is a clinical diagnosis that is classified as a mental health disorder, although there are also many negative physical effects. 

Excessive alcohol use exacerbates existing mental health disorders, many of which go undiagnosed until the alcoholism is treated. Alcoholism requires medical intervention to safely stop drinking and detox from alcohol. Inpatient therapy and support groups are often a necessary part of treatment for alcoholism or AUD. 

Alcoholism and Binge Drinking Attributes

Binge drinking can lead to alcoholism but not every binge drinker is an alcoholic. Many binge drinkers can stop without medical intervention. A little bit of the right motivation and support is all the treatment they need to avoid the devastating effects of chronic binge drinking. 

Alcoholics can binge drink and it is potentially more dangerous for them. Someone suffering from alcoholism always has an increased blood alcohol level. Binge drinking can raise that level to the point of alcohol poisoning or even death.