Binge drinking is defined as a pattern of alcohol consumption that results in a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 g/dL or more for males (five or more drinks) and 0.04 g/dL or more for females (four or more drinks). While most people who binge drink are not dependent on alcohol, it can be the start of problem drinking and eventually lead to alcoholism. Additionally, binge drinking can have numerous negative consequences such as poor performance at school or work, increased risk of accidents and injuries, and even mental health disorders like anxiety and depression.

Is a Binge Drinker an Alcoholic?

Most people know that drinking alcohol in excess isn’t good for you, but does it mean you are an alcoholic? People who drink sometimes test limits and boundaries which can 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?

What is Binge Drinking?

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. 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 five or more alcoholic drinks for males or four or more alcoholic drinks for females on the same occasion.

Statistics on Binge Drinking

  • One in six U.S. 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.

Binge Drinking and 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 Can Develop Through Binge Drinking

There are many stages of alcoholism, the first of which include 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.

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 treatment.

What Can Binge Drinking Lead to?

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. Cliffside Malibu offers an individualized treatment plan for every client in our luxurious facility. 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. Contact Cliffside Malibu today.

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