Does Binge Drinking Lead To Alcoholism?
Binge drinking, a form of alcohol abuse, is a dangerous practice which can lead to alcoholism. A medically-supervised detoxification program and inpatient drug rehab can help you to regain a sober life.
Binge drinking may not occur on a daily basis, but, over time, these patterns can lead to alcoholism. Voluntarily having one drink, or even several, doesn’t mean you’ll become addicted. It’s when drinking becomes a problematic pattern or crutch that you could be at risk of developing the compulsive tendencies of addiction.
Alcohol is legal, widely socially acceptable, and highly prevalent within many areas of our lives, and for these reasons experienced by many. But despite this prevalence and public opinion, alcohol is still a drug, and a dangerous one at that.
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Understanding Binge Drinking
Men and women’s bodies are affected differently by alcohol. For this reason, the amounts considered to be patterns of binge drinking vary. For men, five or more drinks within a two-hour period qualifies, and for women, it’s four or more.
It’s important to understand what’s considered one drink. This isn’t necessary the amount of beer or liquor a bartender or a friend pours into a single glass.
Here’s the breakdown, as referenced from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse And Alcoholism (NIAA):
- 12 ounces of regular beer, which is usually about 5% alcohol
- 5 ounces of wine, which is typically about 12% alcohol
- 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, which is about 40% alcohol
Today, especially with the popularity of microbrews, a large number of beers contain more alcohol per glass than would be considered one standard drink. Many mixed drinks contain the equivalent of two or even three standard drinks.
Due to this, after having what may look like one drink, you could actually be well on your way to binge drinking. Consuming two drinks like this within two hours may even qualify.
On the other hand, binge drinking often revolves around the purposeful intent to consume large amounts of alcohol quickly, either by shots, beer bongs, shotgunning beers, or other similar means.
If you’ve spent time at a social event where alcohol is consumed, chances are you’ve witnessed, or even taken part in, behaviors which are actually considered abuse. Does this surprise you?
It can be hard to identify these behaviors when your peers or coworkers are condoning and even encouraging them. Recognizing patterns of binge drinking can help you to get yourself or loved one support before these patterns accelerate into alcoholism.
According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in a period of one month, roughly 65.3 million Americans aged 12 and up (nearly a quarter of this age bracket) binge drank. With numbers this high it becomes clear why it’s critical to understand the correlation between binge drinking and alcoholism.
How Does Binge Drinking Lead To Alcoholism?
When you consume alcohol it changes your body and brain’s chemistry, even in quantities associated with binge drinking. Alcohol can disrupt your mental and emotional health, leading to depression, anxiety, or the worsening of other mental illnesses. All of these things can become risk factors for alcoholism, elements which are made worse should a person already have existing risk factors within their life.
If, prior to beginning binge drinking, a person has a family history of alcoholism, a partner who drinks, or an impoverished life with no community support, they’re potentially more susceptible to developing an alcohol use disorder. The are only a few examples of risk factors. Now these things don’t necessarily mean a person will develop an addiction. Inversely, a person free from these risk factors isn’t immune from the risk of developing an addiction.
Alcohol is a depressant. Despite the fact that at the onset of drinking, you might feel elated, upbeat, and positive, alcohol depresses not just your body, but your mindset. Even one night of binge drinking can leave you down. Multiple nights begin establishing a pattern which makes this negative mindset more pervasive within your life.
Once drinking-related depression kicks in, many people turn back to alcohol in order to reduce these symptoms. This is called self-medication. The more a person engages in these habits, the greater the likelihood they’ll develop an addiction.
Many people stumble into alcoholism from binge drinking because they don’t realize it’s dangerous, and because it’s encouraged by their peers. With this mindset, they’re focused on alcohol as a means to have fun, instead of the truth that alcohol is a highly addictive drug.
Once a binge drinker begins to experience a tolerance, they start to drink larger quantities of alcohol to produce a feel-good effect. Eventually a physical dependence and mild cravings begin to set it.
When paired with the social expectations and rituals surrounding previous patterns of binge drinking, these factors accelerate drinking from levels of abuse to the compulsive tendencies of alcoholism. This risk runs particularly high for adolescents.
Drinking alcohol at young ages can set the stage for a future addiction. The Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration explains, noting that “Adolescent binge drinkers are three times more likely than those who do not binge drink to develop an alcohol-related disorder as an adult.”
Alcoholism is an addiction to alcohol. It’s also considered a chronic relapsing brain disease, as explained by NIAAA. Today, you’ll also hear it referred to as a severe alcohol use disorder. When a person is addicted to alcohol, their drinking becomes compulsive in a way they cannot control.
Within an addicted state, a person will be dependent on alcohol, experiencing intense and frequent cravings for it. Many will encounter withdrawal should they suddenly stop drinking. An addicted individual will have declining emotional, mental, and physical health, but continue drinking even once aware of these things.
The lifestyle perpetuated by alcoholism is toxic and exhausting. As the pursuit of alcohol becomes central within a person’s life, their relationships, career, and schooling all suffer. Along with this, a person loses interest in hobbies or other important aspects of their life. Instead of engaging in these healthy and rewarding things, a person will spend large amounts of time consuming alcohol or being sick (hungover) from its aftereffects.
In severe cases of alcoholism, an individual is best protected from the uncomfortable and dangerous symptoms of withdrawal within a medically-supervised detox. Withdrawal can become life-threatening, and during this time medications, nutritional supplements, and IV fluid hydration can make you more comfortable and protect your life.
After you’ve successfully detoxed, an inpatient drug rehab program is the most optimal choice for many. These residential programs offer the greatest measure of accountability, support, and counseling services, all supported by 24-hour access to expertly trained staff.
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Drinking doesn’t have to control your life. With our help, you can access the best treatment resources and programs today, so that you can begin a sober and more fulfilling life. Contact AlcoholTreatment.net now.
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