Can Binge Drinking Lead to Chronic Alcoholism?

What many people fail to realize is that there is a very clear distinction between binge drinking and alcoholism. However, regular binge drinking can eventually lead to alcoholism. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, binge drinking is a serious yet preventable problem. The CDC notes that binge drinking is the most serious and costly health-related risk throughout the entire United States and that it is responsible for a significant amount of accidental, alcohol-related deaths on an annual basis. Binge drinking is defined as men drinking more than four alcoholic beverages throughout one to two hours, and women drinking more than five.

What constitutes an alcoholic beverage? Generally speaking, one alcoholic beverage equates to a pint of beer, a glass of wine, a mixed drink or a shot of liquor. If someone has three tequila shots and two beers over an hour, for example, they will technically be binge drinking. The tricky thing is, binge drinking is all but normalized in American culture and society. It is not uncommon to go “bar hopping” on a night out with friends and accidentally consume more than originally anticipated and wake up feeling sick, hungover, and remorseful the next day.

The truth of the matter is, engaging in occasional binge drinking does not mean that you are an alcoholic. So how do you know when it becomes a problem?

Can Binge Drinking Lead to Chronic Alcoholism?

When Binge Drinking Turns Into Alcoholism

At a certain point, repetitive binge drinking will transition to a serious and uncontrollable alcohol-related problem. There are several ways to tell that binge drinking has become an issue that requires professional medical help. These include:

  • The individual who has been binge drinking commits to stopping entirely or attempts to cut back, only to find that he or she is unable to do so for an extended period.
  • Binge drinking often surpasses four or five drinks. Those with serious alcohol-related issues will engage in binge drinking episodes regularly, and they will have no control over when they stop. Once they start drinking it is like a seal has been broken, and they will continue drinking until they pass out drunk.
  • Patterns of binge drinking will continue despite negative consequences. Individuals who are suffering at the hands of an alcohol-related disorder will continue to drink even after they begin experiencing consequences like issues in interpersonal relationships, problems at work and school, financial issues, legal issues, and health-related issues.
  • The building of tolerance over time. This essentially means that an individual will need to drink more alcohol than he or she did previously to feel drunk. For example, say you used to get drunk off of four beers. Now, you find that you need to drink seven to feel a slight buzz. Building up a tolerance over time is a telltale symptom of alcoholism.
  • When an individual stops drinking, he or she will experience symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. These may be mistaken for a bad hangover it is important to pay attention to symptoms that resemble a bad hangover, especially if the symptoms begin to get worse and/or last longer. These could be the precipitative symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and will need to be treated in an inpatient medical detox center.

Garden State Treatment Center and Alcoholism

At Garden State Treatment Center, we have extensive experience treating alcohol abuse disorders of all severities. We understand that because heavy drinking is so normalized it can be difficult to determine whether or not you are suffering from a substance abuse disorder that requires professional treatment. If you have considered that you might have an alcohol use disorder but are still unsure, we are available to help.

Our experienced treatment advisors are standing by to help you – simply give us a call today and we will conduct a brief pre-assessment to determine which course of action is the most appropriate in your unique case.