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How to Differentiate Binge Drinking and Alcoholism

How to Differentiate Binge Drinking and Alcoholism

We’ve all experienced a night drinking with friends where it’s gone too far and we’ve had to deal with a major hangover the next morning. In fact, binge drinking is probably one of the most common patterns of alcohol consumption in North America. While you may associate binge drinking with younger, college-age people, it’s something that people of all ages partake in.

If you’re not sure what the difference between binge drinking and alcoholism is – or if there even is a difference – you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to learn more.

Binge Drinking

Binge drinking means consuming a large amount of alcohol within a very short period of time. For example, drinking five bottles of beer within the span of two hours is considered binge drinking for men, and four bottles within the same amount of time is considered binge drinking for women. It’s specifically defined as consuming enough alcohol to produce a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher.

Drinking at this speed and within such a short amount of time means your body has a harder time flushing out the alcohol in your system. This can put a lot of strain on your organs if you continue this type of behavior over an extended period of time, leading to serious health issues.

Binge drinking and alcoholism


Alcoholism is defined as an addiction to the consumption of alcohol, including compulsive behavior resulting from a dependence on the substance. An alcoholic will experience a strong craving for alcohol and will drink no matter what the outcomes, including harm to others, themselves, and life-altering consequences such as job loss.

Despite a possible desire to stop drinking, a person struggling with alcoholism will experience cravings so intense they give in. They’ll likely drink every day and at every chance they have.

Does Binge Drinking Make You an Alcoholic?

The short answer is no. While binge drinking may be a component of a person’s alcoholism, the two do not always go hand in hand. As previously mentioned, alcoholism means a person has become heavily dependent on alcohol and they no longer have the ability to manage their drinking habits. However, that being said, binge drinking is oftentimes a precursor to more serious issues related to alcohol abuse.

Questions to Ask Yourself

If you’re still not sure if you have a drinking problem that goes beyond the occasional mishap, here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  1. Do you have more than four drinks a day?
  2. Do you feel feelings of guilt or shame after drinking too much?
  3. Do you feel like you need to reduce how much you drink?
  4. Do you forget what happened while you were drinking?
  5. Do you often drink more than what you planned to?
  6. Do you ignore your responsibilities so you can get drunk?
  7. Do other people comment on how much you drink?

If you said yes to most, if not all, of these questions, your binge-drinking behavior is likely an indicator of a much more serious issue.

binge drinking

Alcohol Addiction Treatment

There is no such thing as curing alcoholism, only learning to manage it. In most cases, alcoholism is so serious that it can only reach sobriety through the help of trained professionals and support groups. It can even be risky to try and overcome it without help. Years of alcohol abuse means damage in chemical signaling to the brain, and when there’s an abrupt stop in alcohol drinking, they will likely experience seizures or other dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

Luckily, there are numerous alcohol addiction recovery centers in Toronto and across the country that can help. Freedom For Addiction provides alcohol rehab and recovery services to anyone who seeks treatment. Our series of programs including group counseling, individual counseling, and medical detox to help mitigate symptoms of withdrawal.

If you believe that your binge-drinking is an indicator of a much more serious issue such as alcoholism, contact us today. Identifying that there is an underlying problem is the toughest step towards recovery, but you’ve already made it.


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