There’s no question that the average American works 40 hours a week, weekdays, on a 9 to 5 schedule. Of course, others may have different schedules, but the majority of the country lives for the weekend. After a long week, there is no question that the weekend brings about a release from stress and anxiety. For many, this release comes in the form of alcohol. While there is nothing wrong with having a couple drinks over the weekend, for some people, it’s not just a couple of drinks. It’s an entire night of pounding drinks until unconsciousness is achieved. This pattern of off and on consumption of mass amounts of alcohol is so common that it has deemed the term “binge drinking”. But, is a binge drinker an alcoholic that requires the help of treatment to get healthy again?
Binge Drinking Statistics
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking is defined as, “a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration levels to 0.08 g/dL. This typically occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men—in about 2 hours”. And, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that, “Binge drinking is the most common, costly, and deadly pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States”. Other statistics provided by the CDC about binge drinking include:
- Young adults are more likely to become binge drinkers than older adults or teenagers
- Men are more likely to binge drink than women
- Most young adults in the U.S. report situations of binge drinking before age 21
- ⅙ of U.S. adults binge drink once a week on average
- Almost all Americans who admit to drinking excessive amounts report binge drinking in the past month
Am I an Alcoholic if I’m a Binge Drinker?
It would be easy to say that every binge drinker is an alcoholic. But, that’s just not the truth. For a man, according to the NIAAA, binge drinking is defined as eight drinks in two hours, this could be equivalent to either eight beers or two stiff drinks. Now, eight beers in two hours is excessive. But, for some, two stiff drinks at the end of a long week is just enough to keep the edge off. The question isn’t about how many drinks or if you’re a binge drinker, it’s about addictive symptoms. Each binge drinker who wonders if they are an alcoholic should examine their own life and determine whether or not they have obtained increased alcohol tolerance, dependence, and consequences of addiction to determine if they need help.
The Increased Tolerance of the Binge Drinker
Tolerance is when the body starts to recognize and expect an addictive substance into its system. Eventually, tolerance forms and creates the need for an individual to use more of the drug to obtain the desired effect. For many, tolerance is the reason for binge drinking. Two or three drinks won’t be enough to feel effects of intoxication. Although this does not necessarily mean that a binge drinker is an alcoholic, it does mean they will start to experience negative effects as a result of consuming more alcohol. These effects may include financial issues, long-term health problems, and even legal trouble.
The Developed Dependence of the Binge Drinker
While tolerance doesn’t necessarily point to alcoholism in every case, dependency is a different story. Dependence is when a body needs the presence of a drug to function properly. When a dependent body doesn’t get the drug it counts on, the individual will begin to experience adverse side effects. These effects are also known as withdrawal symptoms. When a binge drinker starts to experience withdrawal effects when they don’t drink, dependence is evident. And, when dependence is evident, the consequences of addiction are sure to follow. Some alcohol withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Cold sweats
- Increased heart rate
When a Binge Drinker Determines They are an Alcoholic
Finally, the sure way to tell if a binge drinker is an alcoholic is to examine life for addiction side effects. Those addicted to drugs and alcohol experience negative consequences of their addictions. These effects can include broken family relationships, lost jobs, failed classes, legal arrests, financial problems, and more. If you are one fo frequently binge drink, experience withdrawal symptoms when you don’t drink, and are starting to recognize consequences of addiction in your own life, you need help for alcoholism. And, it’s available to you today at The Wellness Retreat Recovery Center. Visit our website today to learn more about what we can do for you or give us a call at 888-821-0238.