Binge Drinking Vs. Alcoholism | What’s The Difference?

Binge drinking is consuming multiple alcoholic drinks in a short time period. Alcoholism is not being able to control how much you drink. Some people who binge are alcoholics, and some alcoholics binge drink, but not all.

Binge drinking is drinking a lot of alcohol in a short period of time. Alcoholism is not being able to control your drinking, which often looks like drinking all day every day.

What Is Binge Drinking?

Binge drinking is defined as bringing your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over 0.08 percent. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), this equates to five drinks for a man or four drinks for a woman within two hours.

People tend to binge drink at parties where there’s a lot of alcohol available and everyone is drinking. It’s easy to lose track of how much you’ve had. But it’s terrible for your body.

When you drink a large amount of alcohol, your liver has trouble processing it. That means toxins will be left in your body for longer and your liver may be damaged from working so hard.

Binge drinking can take a toll on your whole body, especially if you do it regularly. It can cause health problems, like:

  • high blood pressure
  • liver disease
  • heart disease
  • cancer 
  • fetal alcohol disorders (if you’re pregnant)
  • aggressive behavior
  • memory and learning problems
  • worsened mental disorder symptoms

Binge drinking also increases the risk of unsafe behaviors, such as driving under the influence or unprotected sex (which can spread disease).

Americans often call binge drinking “getting blackout drunk” because excessive drinking prevents you from remembering what you did while drunk.

What Is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is another term for alcohol addiction or alcohol use disorder. It’s a chronic disease that can develop with repeated alcohol misuse.

The difference between excessive alcohol use and addiction is that you can’t control your drinking if you’re addicted. Even if it’s awful for your health and relationships, you can’t stop. 

People who struggle with alcoholism may binge drink. They might have several alcoholic drinks every evening after work and keep drinking until they go to bed. But not everyone with an addiction binge drinks, and not everyone who binge drinks is addicted.

Signs that someone is struggling with alcoholism (alcohol addiction) include:

  • promising to cut back on alcohol consumption but being unable to
  • spending most of their money on alcoholic beverages
  • drinking alcohol to get through the day
  • hiding their drinking habits
  • stashing alcohol bottles
  • spending most of their time drunk or recovering from drinking
  • getting drunk at inappropriate times, such as at work, before driving, or first thing in the morning

If you’re concerned that a loved one who binge drinks may have an alcohol addiction, pay attention to their drinking habits. If they always binge when they drink or if they show other warning signs, it may be time to intervene.

Alcohol Abuse In Ohio

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 5,700 Ohio residents die yearly from alcohol-related causes. These causes include disease, alcohol poisoning, and traffic accidents. This number is slightly higher than the drug overdose death rate of 5,397 in 2021.

Roughly 18 percent of Ohioans report dangerous drinking habits: either binge drinking within the past month or heavy drinking (eight drinks per week for a woman or 15 drinks per week for a man).

CDC data shows that college-educated, wealthier people in Ohio are more likely to misuse alcohol than poor residents who haven’t gone to college. Young adults—specifically white males—are the most likely to have a drinking problem.

Help For Alcohol Abuse

No matter who you are or what your background is, you might struggle with alcohol abuse. If you become addicted, it can be challenging to recover alone. Addiction treatment centers in Ohio, such as Ohio Recovery Center, offer support that can help you heal.

Our residential rehab programs at Ohio Recovery Center begin with inpatient medical detox to ensure your safety as you experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms

After detox, we provide evidence-based therapies and personalized treatment plans. Alcohol rehab usually includes behavioral therapy, support groups, and other activities that nourish your physical well-being and mental health.

If you or a loved one are struggling with binge drinking or alcoholism, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Reach out to us today to learn more.

  1. America’s Health Rankings https://www.americashealthrankings.org/explore/measures/ExcessDrink/OH
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://nccd.cdc.gov/DPH_ARDI/default/Report.aspx?T=AAM&P=097BB439-814C-42FD-ADB0-8C95124E7537&R=6028E553-1E51-47CA-99B3-BB49B9211350&M=CB059BDF-9205-4571-9A82-913717BD3A1A&F=&D=
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/sosmap/drug_poisoning_mortality/drug_poisoning.htm
  5. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/moderate-binge-drinking#:~:text=NIAAA%20defines%20binge%20drinking%20as,)%2C%20in%20about%202%20hours.
  6. Ohio Capital Journal https://ohiocapitaljournal.com/2022/09/17/alcohol-abuse-still-a-public-health-problem-in-ohio/

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: October 23, 2023

© 2023 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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