What is Binge Drinking? Is it a Sign of Alcoholism?

alcohol addiction information

For those who participate in binge drinking, alcoholism might not be too far behind.

Binge drinking is a serious problem in the United States. It is an issue that has led to a growing amount of health problems for so many people. People who binge drink:

  • Frequently suffer from unintentional injuries
  • Are often the victims of intentional injuries
  • Are at a high risk for alcohol poisoning
  • Have higher instances of sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Have children born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (if they binge while pregnant)
  • Have higher instances of high blood pressure
  • Are at a high risk for a stroke
  • Have a high risk of heart disease and liver disease
  • Frequently suffer from neurological damage
  • Suffer from sexual dysfunction

Problem drinking can cause all kinds of medical issues, and yet, people still participate in it. Perhaps you also participate in it, but you don't really see it as a problem for you. It's important to know as much as you can about binge drinking. Educating yourself is certainly the key to arresting this behavior before it becomes alcoholism. If you find that you are already an alcoholic, it's important to know where you can go to get help.

The bottom line is that binge drinking is dangerous, even if it's only done occasionally. One binge drinking session can cause a host of problems, and potentially even result in death.

Binge Drinking

Binge Drinking Defined

What is binge drinking? It's so important to understand what excessive drinking is. You need to know the binge drinking definition. Once you do, you'll have such a better understanding of it.

Binge drinking refers to the consumption of large quantities of alcohol in a single session. The amounts are different for men and for women. For men, drinking five or more drinks within two hours is binge drinking. For women, drinking four or more drinks qualifies as binge drinking. This can vary, and it really depends on your weight as well. If your BAC level has raised to .08 or above, it's considered bingeing.

This type of drinking pattern is actually much more common among those who are age 26 and older. However, it is something that young people participate in as well. Binge drinking is not the same as having an alcohol use disorder. However, it is a precursor to alcoholism. Many people who begin by binge drinking regularly end up being alcoholics. In its earliest forms, this type of behavior is known as alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse means that there is not currently an addiction present. However, as the behaviors continue and progress, alcoholism is definitely a risk.

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Signs You Might Be a Binge Drinker

Maybe you enjoy drinking excessively now and then, but you're not sure you'd label yourself a binge drinker. You may even know that it's something you really shouldn't be doing. How can you tell whether or not it's become a problem for you?

There are several signs you can look for within your own life that can tell you. These include:

  • Taking Many Risks You Shouldn't: Maybe you never used to be a risk taker, but now, that's changed a bit. You may have driven a car while under the influence. You may have even had sex with someone without protection. These are risks that too much alcohol can cause you to take. They are certainly indicative of a problem.
  • Calling Yourself a “Weekend Warrior”: Many people think their drinking is under control because it's something they only do on the weekends. A lot of people even only do it in their own homes. You've become a weekend warrior, and weekends are now for drinking. That is a sign of a problem with binge drinking.
  • Being Unable to Stick to Limits: Whenever you go out, you always tell yourself you're not going to overdo it. The problem is that you can never stick to your own limits or promises. This indicates that drinking is an issue in your life.
  • Blacking Out: It is possible to drink so much that you black out. If this is happening to you regularly, it's a sign that your occasional binge drinking has gotten out of hand.
  • Neglecting Other Things That Matter: After a while, alcohol becomes the most important thing in your life. Nothing else matters, except drinking. If you're neglecting work, your family, and your friends, it's an issue.
  • Having Family or Friends Become Worried: Your family and friends are much more likely to notice a problem than you are. If they are worried about your drinking behaviors, it's time to take a closer look at them yourself.

Have you noticed any of the above signs in your own life? If you have, it's time to consider that you might be a binge drinker.

What is Moderate Drinking?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the definition of moderate drinking is quite specific. They state that for a woman, one drink per day is considered moderate. For a man up to two drinks per day is moderate drinking.

In order to understand this, it's important to know what a drink actually is. Alcohol levels vary, depending on what type of drink you're consuming. So, for example, one drink is:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits
  • 5 ounces of wine

The number of ounces you drink can vary, depending on where you go. Bars don't always carefully measure out their drinks. When you're drinking at home, you can easily overdo it without realizing you are.

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The Definition of Alcoholism

For most adults, moderate drinking isn't harmful. However, once moderate drinking progresses into alcoholism, there is a serious problem. Alcoholism is a disease of the brain that causes harm and distress. It is a disease that leads to:

  • A loss of control when drinking
  • A physical dependence upon alcohol
  • An increased tolerance level (needing to drink more in order to feel the effects)
  • Strong cravings for alcohol
  • Significant impairment in the individual's life

About 18 million people in the United States are alcoholics. This means they have an actual alcohol use disorder.

Drinking too much alcohol is dangerous. Doing so for too long, on too many occasions is what leads to alcoholism.

Binge Drinking Facts and Statistics You Need to Know

People tend to assume that binge drinking really isn't that big of a problem in the United States. If that's the way you've always thought if it, you'll benefit from learning some binge drinking facts.

The statistics are clear regarding binge drinking in our country. According to the CDC:

  • Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent, but they are likely to become so.
  • More than half of the alcohol consumed by adults is consumed via binge drinking.
  • 90% of the alcohol consumed by people under the age of 21 is consumed via binge drinking.
  • Binge drinkers are about 14 times more likely to drive under the influence than non-binge drinkers.
  • Twice as many men participate in binge drinking as women.
  • 70% of binge drinking episodes involve adults over age 26.
  • 92% of adults who drink in excess report binge drinking at some point during the last 30 days.
  • Binge drinking is much more common in higher income homes than in lower income homes.
  • Binge drinkers who are over the age of 65 engage in this activity between five to six times per month.
  • One in six adults in the United States binge drinks four times a month.
  • During these binge drinking sessions, about 8 drinks are consumed, on average.

Do these statistics surprise you? Maybe you never really thought of binge drinking as being such a big deal. You always thought of it as something that was fun to do. It was only dangerous if you did it all the time. Many of the above individuals eventually became alcoholics. It all starts with alcohol abuse, and for many, that abuse takes the form of binge drinking.

Underage Drinking Facts: Is Your Child Involved?

According to the CDC, alcohol is the most commonly abused drug among young people in the country. It has been reported that:

  • There have been more than 4,300 deaths among underage youth every year because of alcohol.
  • These deaths have cost the United States about $24 billion a year.
  • People between the ages of 12 and 20 consume 11% of all alcohol in the U.S.
  • More than 90% of this alcohol is consumed by binge drinking.
  • Underage drinkers consume more drinks at a time than adults do.
  • In 2010, there were 189,000 ER visits by young people because of alcohol-related causes.

Underage drinking has been a problem for decades, and it continues to be an issue today.

Young people who drink are putting their lives in jeopardy. They regularly experience problems in school, problems with friends and other issues. They may have legal issues due to arrests related to alcohol. They may also suffer the physical consequences of binge drinking and excessive drinking. It can affect their physical growth, make them sick more often, and put them at risk for suicide.

Perhaps you're a parent, and you're concerned about your child's drinking behavior. If you are, it's so important to bring the issue to light right away. Ignoring it and hoping it will go away won't help anyone. It will only make the problem worse in the long run.

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You Binge Drink on Occasion, are You an Alcoholic? Find Out

Perhaps after reading through this information, you're concerned about yourself. You admit that you do binge drink once in a while. You just never really thought of it as being a problem. Now you're worried that you might be an alcoholic. It's important for you to find out for sure.

Taking an alcohol addiction quiz can give you some insight on your alcohol use. It will tell you whether or not you have a problem that needs professional help. You can also ask yourself a few simple questions, such as:

  • Do I spend a lot of time drinking, thinking about drinking, or recovering from drinking?
  • Do I frequently drink alcohol in the morning?
  • Do I often drink when I'm alone?
  • Do I refuse to go to events unless I'll be able to drink there?
  • Do I drink at other odd times during the day?
  • Has drinking excessively started to affect my quality of life?
  • Do I have medical problems that I can attribute to my drinking behaviors?
  • Are my friends and family worried that I drink too much?

If you answered more than one of the above questions with a yes answer, then you may be an alcoholic.

It can be a hard truth to come to terms with. No one wants to admit that they're an alcoholic. However, once you do, you've taken the first step toward doing something about it.

Alcohol Treatment May be Something for You to Consider

If you binge drink regularly, your alcohol consumption has gotten out of control. It's important for you to consider whether alcohol treatment would be right for you. There are a number of different ways that you can go about getting help for your alcoholism and binge drinking.

  • Alcohol detox is a method that is required for those with alcohol addictions. It involved cleansing the system of toxins related to the alcohol. It helps with alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and it helps the recovery process to progress easier.
  • Inpatient rehab is usually recommended for people who are alcoholics. This involves staying in a facility for about 30 days while you get treatment. During this time, group and individual therapy will be key parts of your care.
  • Outpatient rehab may be right for someone with a less severe form of alcoholism. However, it's usually recommended for those who have completed an inpatient program.
  • Intensive outpatient treatment is great for those who aren't able to go to inpatient rehab. They attend appointments during the week, for several hours at a time.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous is a support group for those who need to recover from alcoholism. It is free to attend, and there are meetings all over the country.

The Benefits of Alcohol Rehab for Binge Drinkers

Alcohol rehab has so many benefits for binge drinkers. Alcoholism is a very serious disease, and it's one that should not be ignored. Just like any other disease, proper treatment is necessary for recovery to take place.

Just a few of the benefits of alcohol rehab include:

  • Being able to talk with a therapist in a private setting. This allows patients to understand why they started drinking in the first place.
  • Having the opportunity to take some time away from the stress of everyday life. This allows patients to completely focus on recovering.
  • Being able to work within a support group of others who understand what you're going through.
  • Being able to receive unconditional support from staff any time of the day or night.
  • Having access to alcohol detoxification, which allows patients to safely stop drinking.

If you are an alcoholic or a binge drinker, getting the help you need to recover is vital.

Where Can You Find the Best Treatment for Binge Drinking and Alcoholism?

You may be facing a situation right now where binge drinking has definitely become a problem for you. When you started bingeing, it was something you just did for fun. You didn't see the harm in drinking excessively, as long as you didn't do it all the time. That's often the way that it starts.

Binge drinking can quickly become a serious problem. When it does, you become an alcoholic.

If that's where you are right now, it's important for you to get professional help. An alcohol rehab is the best way for you to recover from alcoholism.

At Northpoint Recovery, we want you to know that we know what you're going through. This is a very challenging time for you. You probably never meant to become addicted to alcohol at all. Now that you are, you need help to stop drinking. The right tools and information are available to you to help you reach your goals. You can stop drinking, as long as you go about it the right way. Getting the right kind of treatment is such an important first step.

Has binge drinking become a problem for you? Do you worry that you have become an alcoholic? Please contact us today for information on how we can help you recover.

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