Binge drinking is alcoholic but alcoholism is not always just a matter of binge drinking. Confusions like this often give power to a binge drinker who refuses to accept alcoholism as part of his or her life. Though binge drinking is still defined as an abnormal drinking pattern, it is not always seen as chronically alcoholic. Defining the two can help determine when the line has finally been crossed, or if it were crossed long ago.
Generally, binge drinking is usually characterized by drinking more than 3-5 drinks in one sitting, meaning over the course of just a few hours. Binge drinking is episodic, meaning it does not happen on a daily, chronic basis like highly evolved alcoholism. However, when binge drinking occurs, the entire intention behind picking up the first drink revolves around getting heavily intoxicated.
According to the Center for Disease Control, most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent. This is what differentiates a binge drinker from an alcoholic. When binge drinkers pick up their first drink, they know they want to get drunk. They also know that after however many hours or days of the binging episode, they will be able to stop. An alcoholic, on the other hand, often believes in the lie he tells himself that the first drink will be the only drink and he will not get drunk for an extended period of time. Additionally, an alcoholic believes he will be able to stop but is almost always incapable of doing so.
The similarities between binge drinking and alcoholism, however, are the effects. Despite the fact that binge drinking is not an ongoing regularity, it has many of the same implications as alcoholism, putting those who binge drink, and others, at risk. Binge drinking can cause brain damage, liver disease, and high blood pressure. Binge drinking does not go without its mental impairments, causing binge drinkers to have drunk driving or other kinds of accidents.
The Turning Point
The binge can last for days. A binge drinker can even go for months on end, then abruptly stop. Oddly, the same is true for an alcoholic, until they don’t or can’t stop anymore. Considering the way alcoholism works in the brain, producing dopamine which creates pleasure and eventually cravings in the mind, it is peculiar that some people can continue binging without developing alcoholism. Arguably, the inability to stop binge episodes entirely is demonstrative of alcoholic behavior. When the using becomes chronic, obsessive, and has severe physiological consequences in the form of withdrawal symptoms, the behavior has turned into a more serious problem.
Binge drinking and alcoholism are both indicators of deeper issues that need to be addressed. Drinking does not have to have control over your life. Learn how to get yourself back through the Intensive Outpatient Program at the Center for Life Change in Temecula. Call 951-775-4000 today for more information.