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Binge Drinking and the Many Degrees of Alcoholism

People tend to think of alcoholism as an all or nothing proposition. The perception is, if you can handle your liquor you are fine, as opposed to the drinker whose life is falling apart. The reality is, alcoholism is a progressive disease with many different degrees.

Expert Insight
Substance abuse expert, Gilbert Lichstein explains binge drinking and the degrees of alcoholism.

Any level of alcohol abuse presents serious dangers. Consider: 60 percent of fatal burns, drownings and homicides involve alcohol; 50 percent of sexual assaults and 40 percent of fatal car crashes involve alcohol.

A prevalent and very deceptive form of alcohol abuse disorder is the functioning alcoholic. A functioning alcoholic can hold a job, take care of the children, and otherwise fulfil his or her roles in life. This ability to manage creates a false sense of security.

The question becomes first, "How well are they really doing these things?" and second, "How long can they keep it up?" It's safe to say, any form of alcoholism eventually catches up, taking a toll on a person's body that includes making changes to the brain.

Binge drinking presents another serious aspect of alcohol abuse. Common among young adults and kids in fraternities, it's defined as drinking five or more drinks in a row within two hours for men or four drinks for women. The consequences of binge drinking can include alcohol poisoning, blackouts, alcoholic coma, injuries, and even death.

Binge drinking and functioning alcoholics are just two examples along the varied spectrum of alcohol abuse. There are many levels of care and customized programs available to meet a person's degree of alcohol abuse.

Those who are early in the disease process may do well in an outpatient setting. People who are unsuccessful in controlling their alcohol abuse despite major consequences might need residential rehabilitation. A long-term drinker will probably first require detox (inpatient rehabilitation) followed by residential and then outpatient.

If you're concerned about a loved one's drinking, chances are your intuition is correct. Gateway Alcohol and Drug Treatment Centers has resources available to help you initiate the conversation you need to have with this person. For your loved one, for yourself, and for your family, don't put off reaching out any longer.

To learn more about treatment options for alcoholism , or our confidential consultation, call Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers today at 877-505-HOPE (4673).

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