Binge Drinking and Alcohol Abuse: What’s the Difference?

If you drink alcohol regularly and frequently experience blackouts, hangovers, and cravings for alcohol, you may wonder whether you have a problem with binge drinking or alcoholism. Both behaviors can increase the risk for health problems, as well as other problems that affect your overall livelihood. While binge drinking and alcohol abuse are both dangerous, knowing the differences between the two can help you determine whether you need to drink more responsibly, and/or seek help for addiction.

Are you struggling with alcohol abuse and need help? Call our 24/7 confidential helpline at 800-839-1686 to consult with an experienced addiction counselor who can guide you toward alcohol rehab centers devoted to helping you achieve sobriety.

Here’s the difference between binge drinking and alcohol abuse, and what you can do to get help.

Defining Binge Drinking

Binge Drinking and Alcohol Abuse

Drinking a copious amount of alcohol in a short period of time is considered binge drinking behavior.

Binge drinking is when a person drinks an excessive amount of alcohol within a short period of time and becomes intoxicated. A person who achieves a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08g/dL or higher within a two-hour time period is binge drinking, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Binge drinking is associated with serious health risks such as alcohol poisoning, heart disease, and liver disease.

You might be a binge drinker if you take major risks, experience blackouts, and cannot stick to your drinking limits when consuming alcohol.

Defining Alcohol Abuse

Those who suffer from alcohol abuse also often suffer from problems at school, work, and home that are caused by drinking. For instance, alcohol abuse can result in lower grades at school, or problems with domestic violence at home. Those who suffer from alcohol abuse may be physically dependent on alcohol, and experience cravings and withdrawal symptoms when stopping use.

Common signs of alcohol abuse include:

  • Drinking alone
  • Replacing work, school, or social activities with drinking
  • Behaving inappropriately
  • Drinking despite possible negative consequences
  • Being secretive about alcohol use
  • Practicing poor nutrition
  • Requiring alcohol to make it through the day
  • Refusing to admit a drinking problem

Am I An Alcoholic?

Getting Help for Binge Drinking and Alcohol Abuse

Binge drinking and alcohol abuse are both dangerous, and can have negative consequences on your life and overall health. If you have a drinking problem, or suspect you might have a drinking problem, going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings or an alcohol rehab center can provide you with the support you need, and set you on the right path to sobriety.

AA welcomes everyone who has a drinking problem, or who thinks they might have a drinking problem — including those who don’t suffer from alcohol abuse. Rehab centers, on the other hand, can help addicts overcome physical dependency on alcohol and other substances with detoxification or medication-assisted treatment. Rehab centers also offer behavioral therapy and counseling to help recovering addicts identify and address underlying problems that led to addiction in the first place.

If you’re not sure whether you or your loved one would benefit more from AA meetings or alcohol rehab, call our 24/7 confidential helpline at 800-839-1686. Our experienced treatment counselors can talk to you about your drinking problem, and connect you with the resources you need to successfully overcome alcohol abuse and addiction.

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How our helpline works

For those seeking addiction treatment for themselves or a loved one, the AlcoholicsAnonymous.com helpline is a private and convenient solution.

Calls to any general helpline (non-facility specific 1-8XX numbers) for your visit will be answered by American Addiction Centers (AAC).

We are standing by 24/7 to discuss your treatment options. Our representatives work solely for AAC and will discuss whether an AAC facility may be an option for you. Our helpline is offered at no cost to you and with no obligation to enter into treatment. Neither AlcoholicsAnonymous.com nor AAC receives any commission or other fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a visitor may ultimately choose.

For more information on AAC’s commitment to ethical marketing and treatment practices, or to learn more about how to select a treatment provider, visit our About AAC page. If you wish to explore additional treatment options or connect with a specific rehab center, you can browse top-rated listings or visit SAMHSA.