alcoholism and binge drinking

Alcoholism vs Binge Drinking

When it comes to understanding alcoholism, people often confuse it for binge drinking. Even though both deal with the abuse of alcohol, the two are entirely separate concepts.

Just because somebody is binge drinking doesn’t mean they’re an alcoholic. It is imperative that people know that there is a difference. 

Understanding both of these can help people better understand what treatment program is necessary for their recovery journey, as well as the different negative impacts alcohol, has as far as substance abuse is concerned. 

Alcoholism

Alcoholism is best described as an insurmountable desire to partake in consuming alcohol. It is one of the most dangerous forms of substance abuse. Those who suffer from alcoholism usually spend a lot of time thinking about alcohol; most often, it’s all they can think about. Because of this, the temptation to use or abuse escalates, and eventually, the user is seduced by the hold that alcohol has on their psychological well-being.

When somebody uses alcohol, the pleasure center in the brain is triggered. Because of this, the user’s desires are manipulated, and eventually, that desire becomes insatiable. When this happens, users place the consumption of alcohol as their top priority.

People who suffer from alcoholism make drinking their top priority, and this has a monstrous effect on family and loved ones. It could cause addicts to neglect them or even treat them poorly. Not only that, but monetary problems could come as a direct result of alcoholism. Financial stressors are difficult for families, and dependency on alcohol is expensive. That being said, alcohol addiction has the power to tear loved ones who were once inseparable apart.

Factors of Alcoholism

Some contributing factors for alcoholism include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Peer pressure
  • Marital problems
  • Emotional abuse
  • Physical abuse

Alcoholism is much more complicated than a person choosing to drink once because they felt like it and then being hooked. There is a vast array of circumstances that can lead to somebody finding solace in alcohol abuse.

Symptoms of Alcoholism

If you or your loved one are suffering from alcoholism, you may be experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Lack of interest in any activity
  • Consistently inebriated 
  • Consistently lying
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Lack of self-control with alcohol

One of the hardest parts of identifying alcoholism is the fear of calling it what it is. Those who suffer are likely aware that they have a problem, but have trouble confronting it, and could become angry if the truth is pointed out. This is why you must seek help when confronting a loved one who suffers from alcoholism. Approaching them in a loving, non-judgemental way is also important when confronting someone suffering from alcoholism. 

Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is defined as the prolonged use of alcohol in one sitting causing a person’s blood-alcohol concentration to be considerably high (0.8g%). Those who are binge drinking drink a vast amount of alcohol within a short amount of time. This is different from alcoholism in that the person is not addicted, they are merely misusing the substance in a manner that lacks upright judgment.

Over 50% of alcohol that is served to people is done so for someone who is binge drinking. This alarming statistic highlights just how common alcohol abuse is in those who use it. When consuming alcohol this way, the pleasure centers of the brain are impacted greatly. Binge drinking is known to lead to damage in the pleasure center of the brain. 

Not everybody who struggles with binge drinking is suffering from alcoholism. For example, an alcoholic may have a dependency on the substance, but they’re not always drinking enough to cause the short term effects of nausea, vomiting, and memory loss. Those who binge drink are likely going to experience these symptoms and more.

Some immediate effects binge drinking may have on a person includes the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blackout
  • Hangovers
  • Alcohol poisoning

Binge drinking also could have long term effects on a person, which includes the following:

  • Heart problems
  • Depression
  • Brain damage
  • Liver damage
  • Memory damage
  • Cancer

Sometimes binge drinking can even lead to tragedies such as car accidents, domestic violence, or even death. Being aware of the impact that binge drinking can have on an individual is imperative to prevent the risks of it and also providing somebody with the help they need to stop.

There is often a misconception that binge drinking only happens at parties. Sadly, this is not the case. Binge drinking could take place in a variety of different circumstances. For example, somebody could be binge drinking alone so that they can hide their troubles from a loved one, or they might drink at a sporting event. Binge drinking could also take place when friends get together, become bored, and start playing a drinking game. 

Binge drinking can often lead to unfortunate circumstances or have long-term effects that someone hadn’t seen coming. They must recognize the symptoms, as it may lead to getting the help that they never knew they needed.

 

Key Differences Between Binge Drinking and Alcoholism

The differences between alcoholism and binge drinking include:

  • Binge drinkers are not dependent on alcohol
  • Binge drinking is defined by a specific blood-alcohol percentage
  • Alcoholism is a chronic condition
  • Those suffering from alcoholism can’t control their consumption
  • Those suffering from alcoholism have an increased tolerance

Alcoholism and binge drinking can often become grouped within the same category, but it does not mean they’re the same thing. There are vast differences between the two; understanding these differences is key in identifying which of the two somebody is struggling with, and also in combating substance abuse in any form it takes.

Consequences of Alcoholism and Binge Drinking

The consequences of binge drinking are as follows:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blackouts
  • Hangovers
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Accidents and injuries
  • Unplanned pregnancy 
  • Sexually transmitted diseases

The consequences of alcoholism include:

  • Cancer
  • Psychological problems
  • Liver disease
  • Heart issues
  • Depression

Understanding the consequences of both binge drinking and alcoholism are imperative to a person’s recovery. These two forms of substance abuse may lead to unfortunate circumstances that nobody saw coming. If you believe that yourself or a loved one is suffering from either of these two forms of addiction, it is important to seek help immediately.

How Granite Can Help

When it comes to understanding alcoholism, it is just as important to familiarize oneself with what kind of treatment is available. So that somebody understands their need for help, a person must first communicate their love and understanding for the one affected. These people require real love and compassion. This begins first with understanding. 

Once you’ve approached someone struggling from substance abuse in a caring manner and they’re ready to receive treatment, then it’s time to explore your options. Thankfully, at Granite, we offer a wide variety of treatment options to meet your loved one’s needs. 

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient care is used to treat serious cases of addiction. This treatment includes 24/7 access to medical personnel if the need arises, allows the patient to live in the care of one of our treatment facilities and lasts anywhere from 28 days to six months. If your loved one suffers from a serious addiction, Granite’s inpatient treatment program may be for them.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient care is a recovery method that gives patients access to professional psychiatrists and therapists anywhere from 10-12 hours weekly. Designed to treat mild cases of addiction, patients can recover with minimal disruption to their daily lives as this method allows them to be treated while living in their own homes. This treatment option is extremely convenient for those who have a mild case of addiction and need to stick around their home to support themselves or their families.

Detox

Detox from drugs and alcohol could include the following symptoms:

  • Hallucinations
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Seizures 
  • Nausea or vomiting

Cutting somebody off completely from drugs or alcohol who have been addicted for quite some time can lead to serious withdrawal. Drug cravings are extremely difficult to overcome and can have a frightening impact on someone who struggles with addiction. Medically assisted treatment (MAT) uses medicine wean a patient off of drugs or alcohol in a more comfortable way than cold-turkey.

Therapy

Therapy in addiction treatment helps patients evaluate their past with substance abuse, and also shapes their attitudes towards it in a more positive direction. The goal is to improve the way they cope with their drug cravings by providing them with skills that encourage self-control.

Moving Forward

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, then it may be time to seek out professional help. Throughout the recovery process, Granite’s philosophy is to guide those who wrestle with addiction to a place of sobriety and stability. We do this with the help of specially trained professionals who are experts in all of the treatment methods mentioned above. If you are interested in what Granite can offer you as far as a patient’s recovery from drug and alcohol addiction is concerned, contact us here, or call us at (877) 338-6287.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4008086/

https://www.psycom.net/binge-drinking

https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/moderate-binge-drinking

https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/alcohol-facts/health-effects-of-alcohol/mental-health/alcoholism/

https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm#bingeDrinking

 

Article Reviewed by Gregory Struve

Gregory StruveGreg received a Master’s in Counseling from the Adler Graduate School in 2006. He trained at one of the top trauma and anxiety treatment centers in the world until 2008, when he became a faculty member at Grand Canyon University. From 2011 to 2016 he directed a program that lead the field in terms of innovative treatment of anxiety and trauma. During that time he even made several appearances on A&E’s intervention.

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