Binge Drinking vs Alcoholism

If you are an adult over the age of 21, there is a strong likelihood that you have tried drinking alcohol. Finding boundaries with alcohol and how much your body can handle is often learned through trial-and-error, especially at a young age. While there are times in a person’s life that you might overindulge in alcohol by binge drinking, it’s important to remember that there is a fine line between binge drinking and addiction.

What is Binge Drinking?

By definition, binge drinking involves drinking a specific amount of alcohol during a short period of time. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), men who take in five drinks in about two hours, and women who take in four drinks in about two hours, are considered to be binge drinking.

Drinking this much alcohol in a short period of time causes a person to become drunk quickly. This is because the body’s vital organs are unable to clear out that much alcohol in such a short timespan. Binge drinking happen as a one-off occasion, such as indulging at a wedding or party, or it can happen more frequently.

What is Alcoholism?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines alcoholism as someone who has a dependency on alcohol. People who suffer from alcoholism have intense cravings for alcohol, and they also feel withdrawal symptoms when they don’t have any alcohol in their system. Their brain is chemically rewired to depend on the substance, and it gets in the way of many areas of their lives.

Someone who is suffering from alcoholism usually drinks everyday, at inappropriate times of the day, and will binge drink frequently. It is a disorder that requires therapy and treatment to overcome.

The Dangers of Binge Drinking

Drinking large amounts of alcohol within a short period of time poses many risks. Not only are there health risks to binge drinking, there are many behavioral risks as well. Some dangers of binge drinking include:

  • Blacking out
  • Loss of coordination
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Unintentional injuries
  • Unintentional pregnancies
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Reckless behavior
  • Legal issues
  • Liver damage
  • Anxiety and depression

Possibly one of the largest dangers of binge drinking is running the risk of alcohol dependency. The more a person drinks, the more their body is able to tolerate and therefore will require more alcohol to become drunk. This tolerance building is a fast-track to alcohol dependency. If you find yourself or a loved one binge drinking frequently, it is important that you seek help so that an addiction does not form. The sooner you are able to stop frequent binge drinking, the better the chances you have of an easy recovery.

Side Effects

Aside from the potential dangers that come with binge drinking, there are also many immediate side effects. Some of these side effects include:

  • Hangovers the next day
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Slurred speech
  • Impaired memory
  • Impaired vision
  • Shakiness
  • Irritability
  • Impaired judgement

Am I Addicted to Alcohol?

If you are not an alcoholic but find yourself binge drinking, you should be able to cut back on your own. If you are binge drinking and find it very difficult (or impossible) to cut back on your own, you may have formed an addiction to alcohol. Not being able to control your own drinking is one of the largest red flags of an addiction to alcoholism. Other signs of addiction include:

  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Denial of alcohol use
  • Drinking in secrecy
  • Drinking during inappropriate times of the day, such as in the morning or during work
  • Loss on interest in regular activities and hobbies
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Change in social circle
  • Ignoring the concerns of others

Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

Alcoholism is one of the most dangerous substances to detox from. It is very important that if you are suffering from alcoholism, you seek professional help to safely wean yourself off of it. There are medications available to help you with your withdrawal symptoms and cravings during this crucial detox period.

Once the alcohol is out of your system, you can focus on controlling your cravings and overcoming your triggers through different behavioral therapies and holistic therapies. No two addictions are alike, so finding an individualized program tailored to your specific needs is important. Addiction is also often something that stems from a root cause, so getting to the bottom of this is a very important part of alcohol addiction recovery.

After you have completed treatment, an aftercare program will be offered to you so that you can stay sober and avoid relapse as best as possible. This can include a sober living facility, ongoing outpatient therapy or regular 12-step meetings.

About Pinelands Recovery Center

It can be normal for someone to binge drink here and there throughout their life. However, frequent binge drinking can become a symptom of an alcohol addiction. If you feel as if you may have formed an addiction to alcohol, finding the right treatment center for you will make all the difference. We can help you find the root cause of your binge drinking, help control your cravings and teach you how to overcome your difficult triggers.

Pinelands Recovery Center of Medford is widely known as one of New Jersey’s finest, most respected addiction treatment facilities. With comfortable 30-bed accommodations and a 24-hour professional staff, we can offer clients a serene, relaxing environment amid the lush piney woods. This stress-free setting with its sense of warmth and welcoming enables you to feel comfortable and confident about your clean and sober life ahead.

We will establish clear goals, both general in nature and specific to your needs. We continue to monitor those goals, to make sure that our clients are progressing and buying into their recovery plan. We thrive on assisting clients in feeling connected to the recovery community, share and demonstrate effective coping techniques, help clients to modify attitudes and patterns of behavior and everything else you will need to be happy and productive living a sober, healthy life.

We ensure that clients complete their planned concrete tasks, encourage hope, optimism and healthy living. Our recovery program is not a revolving door treatment program; it is a recovery model designed to help clients go on to lead productive, happy lives. For more information, visit