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by Dr. Becky Spelman on 11/08/2014

Living in a world that puts increasing demands on an individual leaving them feeling almost hopeless, it comes as no surprise that we all attempt to escape the real world from time to time. Unfortunately for some, music, reading, writing and other such activities do not provide a strong enough form of escapism. For those individuals, alcohol and other such drugs can often offer temporary relief from stress, anxiety and other difficulties, however this temporary relief is short lived and does not solve the problem in the longer term.

You may notice that you are using alcohol as a temporary relief from an unsatisfied life or you may be concerned that you have become addicted to it. But how do you know how serious your alcohol use is and when might you need to consider changing your drinking behaviour? Lets have a look at the difference between binge drinking and alcohol addiction:

What exactly is binge drinking?

  • Binge drinking is seen as a form of addictive behaviour .
  • It is defined as the consumption of a certain number of drinks over a short period of time, a single drinking session or during a single day.
  • The amount of alcohol consumed in order to be classified as “binging” should be twice the daily alcohol allowance. For men that is 3-4 units of alcohol, whereas for women it is 2-3 units.
  • The purpose of binge drinking is to get drunk and feel the effects of alcohol in a very short time.
  • Individuals affected often do not believe they have a problem with alcohol because they do not drink every day.
  • They often stick with the belief that they are in control over how much alcohol they consume.
  • Binge drinkers continue using alcohol even when it causes physical, social, legal and psychological problems.
  • It is very difficult for binge drinkers to control their alcohol consumption using behaviour.
  • There is a strong desire or compulsion to use alcohol.
  • It mainly affects young people, but it is not restricted to them.

When does binge drinking become an addiction?

  • Increasing the number of drinks and drinking more regularly can increase the risk of dependence.
  • Individuals addicted to alcohol plan their life around ways to obtain more alcohol. They often worry where their next drink is coming from once it is closing time.
  • Having a compulsive need to drink and being unable to stop once started also show alcohol addiction.
  • Tolerance to alcohol might occur so individuals need to drink increasing amounts of alcohol to feel its effects.
  • Withdrawal symptoms often occur such as sweating, tremors and nausea and drinking alcohol is the only way to stop these symptoms.
  • Drinking alcohol or having a strong desire for alcohol since the moment when you wake up.
  • Realizing that many aspect of your life such as personal and professional are suffering because of alcohol but not being able to stop.
  • Alcohol addiction is a disorder in itself but it also is a bridge to further health problems and psychological disorders.
  • Psychological symptoms of alcohol addiction include anxiety, depression and even suicidal feelings.
  • Physical problems related to addiction include memory loss, insomnia and sexual problems. More severe damage to health results in liver disease, high blood pressure, stroke, coronary heart disease and heartbeat irregularities.
  • Alcohol addiction is not about the quantity of alcohol consumed! It is about drinking more than intended and creating a tolerance resulting in more alcohol consumed. The tolerance level is specific for each individual.

What do all these facts mean?

For a start it shows that binge drinking does not necessarily imply alcohol addiction. Whereas binge drinking is not necessarily an everyday activity, alcoholism takes up most of the time of the individual affected. However, with increased practice binge drinking can lead to dependence. Where they are similar is that both affect large aspects of one’s life such as personal, professional, physical and can have drastic consequences on health. Both binge drinkers and alcohol addicts believe they are in control of how much they drink but neither really are.

What available help is there for you?

Think alcohol is taking over your life? Then decided to take action before it is too late!

Call our team on +4402038820684 or 075 1111 6565 for a free 15 minute confidential chat or to arrange an appointment with an expert who will be able to help.