When does “just a few drinks” turn into something else?
When does it go too far?
You want to think you’re in control of their drinking, particularly if you’re maintaining your various responsibilities and getting things done. You may even look at the fact that you don’t drink in excess every night as a surefire sign that all is well and that you don’t have a drinking problem.
It’s not necessarily that cut and dry though and the line between control and the inability to stop is a fine one. It brings us back to the question; is binge drinking alcoholism?
What Is Binge Drinking?
First, let’s understand what exactly binge drinking is because definitions matter.
As defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) 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. For a typical adult, this pattern corresponds to consuming 5 or more drinks (male), or 4 or more drinks (female), in about 2 hours”.
Chances are if you catch a game at the bar with the boys on Sunday, you’re likely going well into that binge territory. The circumstances and activities might be different for everyone but the likelihood that it’s happening to a good portion of the people reading this, or someone you know, is pretty high.
It’s not an assumption, it’s what the statistics show us.
The NIAAA notes that in 2019, roughly 66 million people aged 12 and older reported having binge drank in the past month. That’s 24% of people in the U.S.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) paints an even more stark picture:
- 1 in 6 adults in America brings drinks about 4 times a month – averaging 7 drinks per session
- Binging is 2 times more common among men
- Binge drinking is more common for those with incomes over $75,000 and higher education – but lower-income binge drinkers drink more overall each year, meaning they drink more per binge
The CDC hammers it home with this line; “binge drinking is the most common, costly, and deadly pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States”.
Is Binge Drinking Alcoholism?
Now that we understand more about what binge drinking is, let’s circle back and define alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder (AUD) as it’s officially known.
“Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a medical condition characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences. It encompasses the conditions that some people refer to as alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, alcohol addiction, and the colloquial term, alcoholism. Considered a brain disorder, AUD can be mild, moderate, or severe”.
The most significant differentiator between the two, alcoholism and binge drinking, is found in the definition. It’s the inability to stop or control alcohol use despite all consequences. That’s the mark of addiction.
So, the answer to the question, “is binge drinking alcoholism?”, is no, it isn’t.
That’s not a cause for celebration or reason to breathe easy though because the slope is slippery. Prolonged and unchecked binge drinking can dramatically increase your risk of developing an alcohol use disorder.
The line between binge drinking & heavy alcohol use and alcoholism grows thinner and thinner over time. In essence, the first two put you in greater danger of losing that control and eventually experiencing the third: alcoholism.
How to Get Help With Alcoholism Today
If alcohol has taken over your life or you’re concerned about a man in your life and their relationship with drinking, our alcohol rehab in Southern California may be the answer you’re looking for.
Reach out to us today to learn more.