What defines binge drinking? If we drink heavily on the weekends and then take a few days off only to repeat the cycle, does that make me a binge drinker? Find out what Annie says about the difference between being a daily drinker and a binge drinker and where to find support for each.

Download EP:156 Transcript

Is there a difference in binge drinking or daily drinking?

I really want to talk about this difference. I think that there are really two categories when it comes to how people drink problematically. One is daily drinking that’s what I did. I drank every single day – at least a bottle of wine sometimes more. Binge drinking where you don’t drink every single day but special occasions come up. Weddings, weekends – all of the sudden drinking is not just a little bit but it’s really a lot of drinking and to the point where kind of you’re the ones falling down, hurting themselves. Stuff like that.

It catches up with you

With regular drinking and daily drinking for a long time at least outwardly people really manage to function right. So that you can be successful, you can have the career, you can have the marriage. Your drinking could be pretty hidden but you’re doing it all the time every day or even if you’re not hiding it you’re still sort of appearing somewhat sober. The truth is you’re consuming so much alcohol that you’re not getting drunk because it’s happening on such a regular basis. You build such a high tolerance that some of the physical side effects aren’t as intense. The trap that regular drinkers fall into is that they see the person who is stumbling, who’s slurring, who’s falling over and they think well surely you know I’m not as bad off as them because I’m not doing those things you know I can handle myself.

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Binge drinking on the other hand is where somebody is actually really capable of stopping and they do they stop all the time over and over and over again. They’re really used to withdrawals, they’re used to going through periods of time where they stop. One of the main reasons that they stopped is because the binges are so bad and so intense that when they are ready to finally say okay I’m stopping this. They don’t even want to put a drink near their mouth. They’re sick of it – the cognitive dissonance is gone. The problem is how do they stay stopped?

Interestingly in the binge drinking side of the spectrum equally we look at regular drinkers and we say well you know I don’t have a problem because I don’t drink every night. I don’t have a problem because I can go for weeks without drinking, months without drinking.

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The truth is that in both these situations it’s kind of the same mechanisms at work. Tune in to the podcast where I explain how the dopamine response is the same whether you’re binge drinking or daily drinking.

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Special music thank you to the Kevin MacLeod Funkorama (incompetech.com)
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