Millions of Americans use alcohol in unhealthy or damaging ways. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse tend to be progressive illnesses, often getting worse over time. Nearly everyone is aware that unhealthy drinking (or “problem drinking”) can lead to serious problems, but not everybody realizes that there are a few different kinds of dangerous drinking, such as:
Binge drinking refers to the practice of drinking more than the body can process in one sitting. It’s most common among young adults, especially those between the ages of 18 and 21. Binge drinking limits vary between people, but in general, for men it’s over five drinks at once, and for women it’s over three drinks in a sitting. While some people can binge drink without noticeable complications, many binge drinkers suffer from hangovers, injuries, blackouts, and missing or failing classes if they are students.
Alcohol abuse is generally more destructive than binge drinking. This involves a person letting alcohol negatively affect his or her life. While the appearance of alcohol abuse varies from person to person, it can manifest as driving under the influence, not keeping up with responsibilities (at home and at work), issues with relationships, and legal problems as a result of excessive drinking. However, one can abuse alcohol and not face any of these outward symptoms.
Alcohol addiction or Alcoholism
Alcoholism, or alcohol addiction, involves some level of physical dependency on alcohol. Those with this addiction will often continue to drink despite financial and/or legal consequences. Though some alcoholics are very high functioning and can successfully hide their addiction, others may lose jobs and relationships or face financial problems.