Binge Drinking vs Alcoholism

Differentiating Binge Drinking and Alcoholism

There are many different definitions of alcoholism and binge drinking. However, most people consider a “binge drinker” someone who consumes alcohol for extended periods then abstains from drinking for some time. Binge drinkers are generally young and do not often suffer from serious long-term effects. Alcoholism is a chronic disease in which people consume alcoholic beverages in a manner that causes problems or complications for themselves or others. They may also experience health problems that are the result of frequent alcohol consumption.

What Is Binge Drinking?

A binge drinker is someone who drinks far more in a short period than is typically safe. This can be measured by the amount consumed in any one session, either measured in drinks or grams of alcohol. Someone who drinks 10 to 15 drinks in one session or a single drink every hour for four hours is considered a binge drinker. Binge drinking can be caused by recreational use or an alcohol addiction.

What Is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism, on the other hand, is a severe disease in which you continue to drink alcohol despite the harmful effects it can have on your body. Alcoholism is a chronic disease affecting both your physical and emotional health. The disease develops over time and can continue to do so even after the initial symptoms have passed.

Key Differences Between Binge Drinking and Alcoholism

While some of these symptoms are similar, there are also some distinct differences between binge drinking and alcoholism.


People who are addicted to alcohol tend to drink almost every day. This means that they typically have the same amount of alcohol in them every night and often increase their drinking after being sober for a period. However, the binge drinker tends to have a short period in which they consume most of their alcohol. They can take weeks or even months to sober up before completing a binge session again.


The causes of binge drinking are often related to a person’s recreational activities. Social drinkers may have one or two drinks to celebrate a big event or to relax. Those who are addicted to alcohol, however, suffer from a severe disease that requires treatment. They drink to get drunk and can become addicted to alcohol.


People addicted to alcohol will likely consume alcohol in all kinds of different environments, not just at parties. They may have a problem using alcohol responsibly and may drink anywhere and anytime. On the other hand, binge drinkers usually drink in a social setting but otherwise remain sober. They may also have different problems in their lives and are less likely to consume alcohol when under stress.


The most notable symptom of alcoholism is the inability to stop drinking once you’ve started. On the other hand, a binge drinker is only likely to have symptoms related to overconsumption of alcohol, such as nausea, vomiting, and hangovers. Unlike someone addicted to alcohol, binge drinkers may not be able to continue drinking until they are completely sober.

Ability to Stop

People addicted to alcohol will almost certainly require medical assistance before they can stop drinking. In some cases, they will even need help to keep their drinking at a safe level. On the other hand, a binge drinker can stop after any binge session and return to a sober life.


Alcoholism is a serious disease that can pose a significant risk to the sufferers and their loved ones. It can cause severe damage to the heart and liver, making them unable to function properly. Worse, severe alcoholism can result in death. People who are addicted to alcohol will find that they have lost control of their drinking and may have regular health problems because of their consumption of alcohol. On the other hand, binge drinkers tend to have a social problem, and they usually don’t exhibit serious medical or physical issues that result from their drinking.


Binge drinking and alcoholism share many of the same effects on the body, however. There are a number of physical effects that arise from drinking too much alcohol.

Liver Damage

Alcohol affects the liver, which is the organ responsible for storing and processing alcohol in the body. Over time, chronic alcohol use can cause cell damage in the liver, resulting in lifelong liver damage.

Heart Disease

Drinking can cause permanent damage to the heart. A person with alcohol-related heart disease may experience symptoms such as palpitations, chest pain, and shortness of breath.

Digestive Symptoms

Even if binge drinkers don’t have immediate physical damage, they can still experience gastric distress, nausea, and vomiting. Drinking in excess can also disturb the sleep patterns of binge drinkers. Drinking a lot of alcohol generally causes digestive problems.

Impaired Brain Functioning

When alcohol is consumed regularly, it can impair normal brain functioning and cause brain damage. This is most common in older people and occurs because of damage to the brain tissues that are connected to the central nervous system. The brain’s ability to think, feel, and move effectively will be disrupted.


A lack of sleep is often a symptom of alcohol addiction and can worsen if you drink too much in one session. Insufficient sleep can be physically damaging, and if you suffer from insomnia regularly, you may need to seek treatment.


Alcohol abuse causes changes in the chemicals in your brain, which can cause unstable moods. Long-term alcohol abuse can cause anxiety for both those who consume the substance and those who abuse it.


Over time, alcohol abuse can lead to depression. It disrupts the chemical pathways in the brain and cause a variety of mood disorders.

Distorted Thinking and Behavior

Regularly consuming alcohol can cause the brain to work slower and use more energy, leading to a distorted reality. It can also make it difficult for you to think clearly, recognize danger, or make rational decisions.

Which One Is Worse?

If you’re suffering from alcohol addiction, you must get treated immediately. Alcoholism will always be worse than binge drinking, even if the short-term symptoms differ. The reason is that binge drinkers can stop drinking whereas someone suffering from alcoholism finds it very difficult to stop. Binge drinkers usually only have short-term health problems. Alcoholics, on the other hand, can suffer far worse physically. The best way to prevent the onset of alcoholism is by not drinking at all.


Treatment is the most important factor when distinguishing between binge drinking and alcoholism. If you require medical assistance to stop drinking, you have a drinking problem. If you can stop, you may just have a social problem or recreational drinking problem. Alcoholism treatment should focus less on the physical aspects and more on the emotional issues that caused the addiction in the first place.

Treatment for Binge Drinking

Binge drinkers who can only stop after they have consumed a substantial amount of alcohol are probably under the influence of alcohol but are not necessarily addicted to alcohol. Treatment for these individuals should focus on getting them to stop drinking and teaching them how to do so. This can include medication, counseling, and mutual support meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous. They will also benefit from a program to help them with the physical effects of alcohol withdrawal.

Treatment for Alcoholism

Those who can stop drinking after any binge session may still be addicted to alcohol. Treatment for these individuals will focus on the physical and emotional issues that caused their addiction in the first place.


A trained therapist will assist clients in identifying the issues that have caused their alcohol abuse. They will also work with clients to develop strategies that allow them to avoid drinking.


If you believe that you are addicted to alcohol, then you should consider taking medication to help with the discomfort of alcohol withdrawal. Medication is not always necessary as most people can be helped by psychotherapy and treatment. However, some people tend to drink less when they know that they have to take medicine.

Alcohol Substitution

Some people can overcome their alcohol addiction either by reducing the amount they drink or replacing it with another substance like coffee. This technique does not always work as some people become dependent on the substance they replace alcohol with.

Treatment Programs

Treatment programs encourage you to attend the treatment center for as long as you wish. Rehabilitation centers will concentrate on the emotional and physical issues that cause the addiction, both from a short-term and long-term perspective. Clients are given a chance to practice how to live life sober, but they are also taught a rehabilitation system.

Support Groups

If you are struggling with your addiction, you may benefit from a mutual support group. Such groups are available in most cities and are open to the public. Members can share their experiences, learn new skills, and perhaps even find treatment for alcoholism at the same time.

Avoiding Alcohol

One of the most important steps to take for those who suffer from alcoholism is to avoid alcohol at all costs. If they don’t, they will likely drink alcohol again. However, there are ways to avoid alcohol that do not involve abstinence. Individuals who are serious about sobriety should avoid public places that have alcohol as the presence of alcohol has been shown to desensitize an individual to consume more easily. Those who suffer from substance use disorder must avoid alcohol altogether. Since avoiding alcohol is challenging, those with a substance use disorder can benefit from rehabilitation programs where they can learn techniques to avoid drinking.

Avoid the Bars

The best way to avoid alcohol is to stay away from bars. When you’re sober, you should never be around people who are drinking. This will make it easier for you to stay sober and prevent temptations that can lead to a relapse.

Avoid Store Aisles

Individuals who wish to avoid alcohol should also stay away from the store aisles that sell alcohol. It is important to remember that many of the stores in any city sell alcohol, and even supermarkets often sell beer and wine.

Avoid Hungry Times

Another way that individuals can avoid alcohol is to remember to eat regularly. When people are hungry or thirsty, they often look for something to drink. In fact, some people will automatically reach for an alcoholic beverage. To avoid this, you should make sure that you eat regularly and carry healthy snacks with you at all times.

Avoid Too Much Stimulation

In some cases, individuals have overcome their alcoholism by ensuring that they are not overly exhausted. Releasing a great deal of energy through exercise, sports, or other forms of physical release can make it much more difficult to resist cravings for alcohol. Individuals experiencing cravings often benefit from taking a nap.

It is critical that you can distinguish between binge drinking and alcohol addiction before attempting a rehabilitation program. If you suffer from alcohol addiction, you should seek immediate medical help. Alcoholism can be treated effectively but only with the help of medical professionals. At Blue Crest Recovery Center, we provide comprehensive treatment modalities to help our clients recover from alcohol addiction and reclaim their lives. Contact us today when you’re ready to make a change.

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