If you or someone you care about regularly drinks alcohol, you may have wondered how much is too much?

Everyone’s alcohol limit is different but there are certain behaviours to be aware of that could indicate a bigger alcohol problem, including behaviours associated with binge drinking and alcohol use disorders.

While different, they can be very serious and require medical attention. Here, we look into binge drinking and alcoholism in more detail and reveal whether there’s a link between the two.

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What is Binge Drinking?


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Binge drinking describes the act of someone consuming large quantities of alcohol in a short space of time. The NHS defines binge drinking as drinking more than 8 units of alcohol in a single session for men, and more than 6 units of alcohol in a single session for women.

3 units is classed as one large glass of 12% wine or one pint of 5% beer.

One of the biggest dangers associated with consuming large amounts of alcohol over a short period of time is the effects of alcohol being exacerbated.

The faster alcohol is consumed, the harder it is for the liver to break it down. The body typically processes one alcohol unit per hour so drinking quickly can increase the level of alcohol concentration in your blood at a much faster speed. Binge drinking also increases the risk of injury, losing self-control and making poor decisions.

How does Binge Drinking differ from Alcoholism?


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The official definition of alcoholism is when someone has a strong dependency on alcohol. They have got to the point where they can no longer say ‘no’ to alcohol because their body has built up a tolerance and dependence. Despite the negative impacts that alcohol may be having on their health, finances, family life and career, individuals crave alcohol and continue to drink it.

The main difference between binge drinking and alcohol use disorders is that binge drinkers probably don’t have alcohol cravings every day. When binge drinkers do drink alcohol, they are likely to find it difficult to stop.

Binge drinking is diagnosed in line with the UK alcohol consumption guidelines, mentioned above. If someone regularly drinks over the recommended weekly units, it’s likely they are a binge drinker. Diagnosing alcohol addiction or alcoholism considers several additional criteria. This includes:

  • Drinking when you wake up or a desire to
  • Making alcohol a priority
  • Having a compulsion to drink
  • Mental health concerns caused by alcohol
  • Withdrawal symptoms and cravings

A medical professional such as a GP will consider the above criteria as well as any symptoms that an individual presents with to determine whether they have an alcohol use disorder. It is also important to remember that those suffering with alcohol addiction are likely to binge drink.

Can Binge Drinking Lead to Alcoholism?


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Binge drinking doesn’t mean that someone is an alcoholic, however it can lead to alcoholism. This is because the pattern of behaviour related to binge drinking can cause the body to develop a tolerance and dependence for alcohol.

When someone continues to drink high quantities of alcohol, over time their body will require more alcohol to achieve the same desired feeling. This in itself can cause several physical and mental health conditions. As someone’s tolerance to alcohol increases, the body and brain can also build a dependence and will begin to crave alcohol to function.

Both binge drinking and alcohol use disorders are very serious as they can have a huge impact on someone’s health. If you think you are or someone you care about is at risk of developing an alcohol use disorder, it’s important to get the right alcohol support and alcohol recovery advice. Some of the most common signs of alcoholism and alcohol addiction include:

  • Experiencing cravings and withdrawal symptoms without alcohol
  • Wanting to stop but not being able to
  • Continuing to drink alcohol despite pleas from loved ones
  • Ignoring the negative health risks of alcohol
  • Going to extreme lengths to get and drink alcohol
  • Drinking larger amounts and at unusual times in the day
  • Lying and becoming deceitful about your alcohol intake

If you’re concerned about either your own behaviour or someone you know, and would like some advice on alcohol abuse, the team at Asana Lodge is always here to help.


What are the Health Risks of Binge Drinking and Alcoholism?


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Drinking large amounts of alcohol increases your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and means that your liver will struggle to process the alcohol. This is why individuals begin to feel very drunk, very quickly. In the short-term, this can result in a number of side effects including:

  • Increased risk of injury
  • Nausea and sickness
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Memory and coordination problems
  • Slurred speech

Alcohol overdose and alcohol poisoning can also occur, which can become very serious and require hospital treatment. There are also lots of long-term effects of alcohol on the body including poor mental health episodes, liver failure, heart disease, malnutrition, blood circulation issues, and even some cancers.


How Can You Get Help for Binge Drinking or Alcoholism?


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There are various treatment options for alcoholism as well as help for binge drinking. At Asana Lodge, our alcohol rehab and detox programmes are tailored to suit individual needs and goals.

Our private rehab centre is the ideal place to recover, surrounded by a team of leading medical professionals. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms will also be monitored and you’ll be guided to get on the right track.

Using a combination of therapy, in group and individual sessions, you’ll be supported to understand your drinking problem, its consequences as well as any triggers. You’ll also be helped to create new and healthy coping strategies and work with a team on aftercare and relapse prevention advice.

Binge drinking or alcoholism might have a hold on your life right now. But it doesn’t have to be that way forever and we’ll be here to show you how. If you need support for alcohol addiction or want to know what alcohol treatment programmes are available close to you, get in touch with our friendly team on 01908 489 421.

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