Is There a Difference Between a Drunk and an Alcoholic?

Some words are more culturally acceptable than others, even if the lines between the words are blurred. For example, describing someone who gets drunk while having a good time is often laughed at the next day. However, that same drunken person might be severely offended and become defensive if you asked him if he was an alcoholic. To better understand the complexity of alcohol use, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) describes the four drinking levels listed below which can help you see the difference between a drunk and an alcoholic.

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4 Differences Between a Drunk and an Alcoholic

  1. Drinking in Moderation. Because of the destructive potential of alcohol, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends abstaining from alcohol or drinking two or fewer drinks for men or one drink or less for women daily. The consensus is that it is always better for your health to drink less.

  1. Binge Drinking. Binge drinking raises blood alcohol beyond the limit that most states allow you to operate a motor vehicle. This limit can typically be accomplished by men drinking five or more drinks and women drinking four or more within about two hours. Unfortunately, binge drinking is done by one in six adults and costs the United States more than a trillion dollars a year in time missed from jobs, medical costs, and legal fees. In addition to being a primary cause of automobile accidents, binge drinking leads to violence, suicide, fetal disorders, high blood pressure, and stroke.

  1. Heavy alcohol use. The NIAAA describes heavy drinkers as men who have more than four drinks in a day or fourteen in a week. For women, these numbers are three and seven, respectively. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) describes heavy drinking as having fifteen drinks for men and eight drinks for women per week. According to Harvard Health, only one out of ten heavy drinkers are alcoholics but they can still have a severe drinking problem. Some of the ninety percent of non-alcoholics in this group are thought by some experts to be “almost alcoholics.”

  1. Alcohol Use Disorder. Heavy drinking and binge drinking increase the risk for alcohol use disorder, also referred to as alcohol dependence/addiction or alcoholism. An alcoholic differs from someone who occasionally gets drunk due to their inability to control their drinking, despite the problems alcohol causes in their life. These include problems with their relationships, job, health, and finances. Recent studies have verified that alcohol addiction results from a brain disorder ranging from mild to severe. Additionally, excessive drinking causes further harm to the brain, which increases the risk of relapse. Fortunately, sobriety is now possible with proven treatments that help alcoholics achieve recovery and lower the risk of relapse.

Consider Myrtle Beach Recovery

Our experienced staff can help you regain control of your life with our effective 12-Step Program. Our safe, supportive, and friendly environment can help you on your journey to sobriety and a happy, rewarding life.Contact us today to learn more about our addiction center and how our 12-Step Program helps residents acquire the tools needed to overcome addiction and avoid relapse.