Compulsive Drinking Vs Alcoholism

compulsive drinking

There are weeks that go by that I drink every day. I just can’t help it.

On Wednesday, I realized I hadn’t eaten in three days. I was in such a state of concern about my next drink and how I could make it to that next drink that I literally forgot to eat.

It’s Friday now, but not even that realization made me stop when I know I should.

What is wrong with me?

Should I go to the hospital?

I’m about to lose my job and my insurance because of the drinking. I feel so awful unless I am drunk. There are pounding headaches when I stop drinking, and I have terrible shakes that are painful.

Is there even a chance for me to get help? I know I am an alcoholic, but I literally have zero control anymore.

The reality is, if this story feels close to home, you are not alone. In the state of Texas, in 2017, it was estimated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that over a million Texans over the age of 12 had an alcohol use disorder. In the United States, it is estimated that as of 2018, more than 14 million people over the age of 12 had an alcohol use disorder.

The good news is that anyone who is struggling with alcohol use can get help at Ripple Ranch Recovery.

Compulsive Drinking vs. Binge Drinking vs. Alcohol Use Disorder

There are important distinctions to make between compulsive drinking, binge drinking, and alcohol use disorder. Without doing your due diligence of research, all three can be confused for one another.

The reality is that if you are either compulsively drinking or binge drinking, you may be suffering from an alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Alcoholism is classified as a substance use disorder, and binge drinking can fall under the same category. There are certain distinctions between an alcohol use disorder and binge drinking.

Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking in which a person rapidly consumes alcohol until the point where their blood alcohol content (BAC) is above the legal limit of 0.08%. Typically this is accomplished by having multiple drinks within the span of one to two hours (five or more for men and four or more for women).

While binge drinking is not alcohol use disorder, or as many of us know it alcoholism, it can be a sign of alcohol use disorder.

Binge drinking is very common. In fact, 0ne in six adults binge drinks around four times a month, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Men binge drink more than women, with men binge drinking at twice the rate compared to women (although binge drinking in women has increased significantly over the past couple years). In 2019, about 30% of men ages eighteen and up reported binge drinking within the past month. Anyone can binge drink, but some groups seem to do it more than others.

Compulsive Drinking

According to the American Psychological Association, compulsive drinking is the uncontrollable urge to drink excessively. Compulsive drinking, while not a match for alcohol use disorder, can be a sign of alcohol use disorder.

Compulsive drinking is a very likely sign of alcohol use disorder as opposed to binge drinking.

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

Alcohol use disorder can be a result of compulsive or binge drinking. Compulsive drinking may be one sign of an alcohol use disorder, but there is a full range of symptoms when someone has the disorder.

While binge drinking can be determined by a certain number of drinks, alcohol use disorder is not. Alcohol affects every person differently, meaning it takes a different amount to cause the positive effects desired from alcohol.

Alcohol use disorder is better defined as the inability to stop drinking alcohol in large amounts despite the negative impacts it has on your life. For example, if you were to lose your job because of alcohol consumption but continue to drink instead of attempting to solve the issue, that would be a sign of AUD.

How Does Excessive Alcohol Use Affect Your Health?

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, even only on occasion, can have a negative impact on your long-term health.

While drinking in moderation is widely accepted and even can potentially have health benefits, it is easy to get carried away and fall into a pattern of heavy drinking. According to the CDC, moderate drinking for men equates to 2 drinks per day and 1 drink per day for women. There are many short-term and long-term effects on your health related to consistent, excessive drinking.

The short-term effects of excessive drinking can include alcohol poisoning, risky behavior, violence, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, and poor judgment. Long-term health risks may include cancer, alcohol use disorder, high blood pressure, mental health disorders, heart problems, and liver diseases.

Regardless of the effects, you should not drink at all if you’re under the legal drinking age, in recovery, taking certain medications, pregnant, or operating a motor vehicle.

Alcohol Poisoning

If you believe someone has alcohol poisoning, call 911 immediately.

When discussing compulsive drinking or binge drinking, it is important to know what to do when someone has drunk too much and may have alcohol poisoning.

Alcohol poisoning happens when there is so much alcohol in the bloodstream that areas of the brain that control basic life-support functions — such as breathing, heart rate, and temperature control — begin to shut down.

Symptoms of alcohol poisoning can include:

  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Being unable to remain conscious (awake)
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Slowed breathing
  • Clammy skin
  • Low body temperature
  • Slowed responsiveness

If someone may be suffering from alcohol poisoning, it is important to never leave them alone. Never assume a person with alcohol poisoning will simply sleep it off – this could be a deadly mistake.

Those that have an alcohol use disorder or consistently binge drink are less likely to suffer from alcohol poisoning because of their higher tolerance. However, it is possible for even those with AUD or binge drinking habits to have alcohol poisoning.

Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder

Everyone comes from a different background, and that also means that the background of each person entering addiction treatment is different. The goal of treatment for alcohol use disorder should always be to treat the whole person and not just the addiction.

Often treatment will begin with a period of detox to rid the body of the harmful toxins brought on by heavy alcohol consumption. Following detox, treatment can begin.

A successful treatment program for alcohol use disorder will include a mix of evidence-based therapies and alternative methods of treatment. This mix, in a personalized treatment plan, can provide a holistic form of treatment that can uncover potential co-occurring mental health disorders.

Call Ripple Ranch Today

Ripple Ranch Recovery in Spring Branch, Texas (near Austin and San Antonio), is ready to help you today with alcohol rehab. Our inpatient and intensive outpatient programs can meet you where you are at and will give you the holistic treatment needed to overcome addiction and possible co-occurring mental health disorders.

Call us today at (830) 494-4717 to learn more about your options.

Contact Us Today to Get Started

Our team is standing by to teach you more about what we offer and help you figure out a care plan that will be most effective for you and your unique situation.

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FAQs:

What is compulsive drinking?

According to the American Psychological Association, compulsive drinking is the uncontrollable urge to drink excessively. Compulsive drinking, while not a match for alcohol use disorder, can be a sign of alcohol use disorder.

Can you drink excessively and not be an alcoholic?

Nine out of every 10 people that drink excessively are not suffering from an alcohol use disorder. Drinking excessively is also known as binge drinking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Binge drinking is defined as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 g/dl or above. This typically happens when men consume five or more drinks or women consume four or more drinks in about two hours.”

What are the four types of drinkers?

In an article posted to The Conversation, researchers and experts gathered and shared their belief that there are four types of drinkers.

They are:

  • Social drinker
    • Social drinkers drink to increase the amount of fun they’re having with friends.
  • Conforming drinker
    • Conforming drinkers only drink on social occasions because they want to fit in – they’re not actually keen on drinking at all.
  • Coping drinker
    • Coping drinkers take in booze as a way of coping with emotional issues.
  • Enhancement drinker
    • People who drink for motives of enhancement actively want to feel drunk. They like that alcohol makes them more extroverted, impulsive, and aggressive, and enjoy taking risks.

How many drinks a day is considered enough to make someone an alcoholic?

Alcohol use disorder, or alcoholism, is not determined by a certain amount of alcohol. Alcohol affects every person differently, meaning it takes a different amount to cause the positive effects desired from alcohol.

Alcohol use disorder is better defined as the inability to stop drinking alcohol in large amounts despite the negative impacts it has on your life. For example, if you were to lose your job because of alcohol consumption but continue to drink instead of attempting to solve the issue, that would be a sign of AUD.

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