What is the Connection Between Alcoholism and Binge Drinking?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 October 2018
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Binge drinking is generally defined as consuming more than five drinks in a row for men and four in a row for women. Although drinking in large quantities on occasion does not necessarily mean someone has a drinking problem, becoming drunk repeatedly can lead to alcohol dependence. This may be due to genetic makeup, as well as the need by frequent drinkers to try and achieve a greater high over time. As the body becomes more adjusted to alcohol, a greater quantity is needed for the same level of intoxication, and alcoholism can be the end result.

Binge drinking is a common pastime for college-aged kids and sometimes even high school teens. While it does not always lead to an alcohol problem later on, adults who began drinking during the teen years are much more likely to develop a dependency at some point in their lives. This is one connection between alcoholism and binge drinking, because teens often drink for the purpose of getting drunk, leading to an even greater chance of problems in the future.


Drinking in excess is also a way in which some people learn to cope with problems. Those who have suffered from abuse or depression may engage in alcohol abuse in order to numb painful feelings. Eventually, more alcohol is needed to provide the same level of comfort, and alcoholism and binge drinking can sometimes be the result. This is how many dependencies get started, as those who use alcohol as a form of self-medication are more likely to have trouble quitting later on.

Alcoholism and binge drinking are a hard pattern to break once they become ingrained. True alcoholism is considered a disease, and is never fully curable. Those who are able to stop drinking are considered to be “in recovery,” although even one drink can cause dependent behaviors to reemerge. Therapy for underlying issues which may have led to alcoholism and binge drinking in the first place may be explored, as well as coping mechanisms for dealing with painful feelings which may become less tolerable without the numbing effects of alcohol.

Even those who do not use binge drinking to self medicate may become addicted, depending on their genetic makeup and the frequency of drinking. It has been shown that alcoholism runs in families, so some may be more predisposed than others. This would explain why some binge drinkers do not become alcoholics while some do.



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