Is a Binge Drinker an Alcoholic?

Most people know that drinking alcohol to excess isn’t good for you, but does it mean you are an alcoholic? People who drink sometimes test limits and boundaries which could lead to binge drinking, whether intentional or unintentional. How can you tell if you’ve crossed the line between binge drinking and alcohol use disorder, and the answer to “is a binge drinker an alcoholic”?

What Technically Is a Binge Drinker?

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 g/dL. This typically occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men—in about 2 hours. In addition, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which conducts the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), defines binge drinking as 5 or more alcoholic drinks for males or 4 or more alcoholic drinks for females on the same occasion (i.e., at the same time or within a couple of hours of each other) on at least 1 day in the past month.

Statistics on Binge Drinking

  • One in six US adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about seven drinks per binge. This results in 17 billion total binge drinks consumed by adults annually, or 467 binge drinks per binge drinker.
  • Binge drinking is most common among younger adults aged 18–34 years
  • More than half of the total binge drinks are consumed by those aged 35 and older.
  • Binge drinking is twice as common among men than among women.
    Over 90% of U.S. adults who drink excessively report binge drinking in the past 30 days.
  • Most people younger than age 21 who drink alcohol report binge drinking, often consuming large amounts.

Signs of Alcoholism

The CDC states that most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent, however, alcoholism can stem from binge drinking habits in many people. Signs to be aware of include:

  • Inability to stop or control use. This is one of the major hallmarks of addiction. Not being able to slow, stop, or control use, no matter how much an individual tries, is one of the first self-recognizable signs of alcoholism.
  • Loved ones expressing concern. Often times, the individual suffering from addiction is the last one to realize it or come to terms with it. Loved ones and family will likely express their concern for a period of time before the individual admits they have a problem.
  • Suffering negative consequences of drinking. These negative consequences can include poor performance at work, financial issues, damaged family relationships, injury, legal issues, and much more.
  • Drinking interfering with daily life. Suffering from frequent hangovers, frequent blackouts, and frequent binges that get in the way of daily life and a daily routine is a sign of alcoholism.

How Alcoholism Develops

There are many stages of alcoholism, the first of which includes binge drinking. Binge drinking can lead to increased drinking overall; finding any excuse to be able to go out and drink and rationalize it. This increased drinking can cause problem drinking which causes negative effects throughout life.

The increased frequency of binge-and-problem-drinking leads to alcohol dependence, which means the body has become physically addicted to alcohol. The final stage of alcoholism development is an addiction, where alcohol is no longer consumed for pleasure, but also to feel “normal” and because the individual cannot control or stop use.

How to Get Help

When answering the question, “is a binge drinker an alcoholic?”, it is important to note that not every person who binge drinks is an alcoholic, however, every person who binge drinks runs the risk of developing alcoholism. When an individual begins to recognize the signs of addiction and have realized their alcohol use is no longer out of control, it is time to get help.

What Can Happen?

Binge drinking can lead to:

  • Poor performance at school or work
  • Increased risk of an automobile accident
  • Increased risk of injury
  • Unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease
  • Increased likelihood of legal and financial issues
  • Possible renal issues, cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, dementia, and cognitive issues
  • Mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and more

About Cliffside Malibu

Binge drinking is a symptom of alcoholism and should be taken seriously if an individual binge drinks frequently. Even though binge drinking can lead to severe, and sometimes fatal, consequences, the good news about binge drinking is that it is a treatable condition. By getting an individual’s binge drinking habits under control early, they greatly reduce the risk of developing alcoholism. However, this can come too late for many. Luckily, alcoholism is treatable, as well.

Since no two addictions are the same, Cliffside Malibu offers an individualized treatment plan for every client. We are committed to providing evidence-based treatment through a continuum of care model including medically supervised detox, residential treatment, day treatment, and outpatient services. Our program also includes family therapy and holistic therapy, as well. Whether an individual is suffering from substance abuse and/or alcohol addiction, our programs are structured to create a supportive environment where healing can begin.

In addition to world-class treatment, Cliffside Malibu offers luxury accommodations, a serene environment, five-star dining, and plentiful amenities. We understand that addiction treatment is a rigorous process. Therefore, we provide for your comfort and relaxation at every turn, allowing you to rejuvenate, and meet the demands of treatment with your greatest energy and attention.

For more information on Cliffside Malibu, visit