Is there a difference between being a heavy drinker or being an alcoholic?

Many of the same challenges impact both: legal woes, relationship and family problems, interference with work and personal obligations. Learn the facts to help determine if you or a loved one may be a heavy drinker or alcoholic.


What is a Heavy Drinker?

Heavy drinkers engage in binge drinking five days or more within a 30-day period. Binge drinking is having five or more drinks within two hours for men, four or more drinks for women. According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 65.3 million people aged 12 or older were binge alcohol users in the last 30 days.


Social and moderate drinkers can take or leave a drink. Heavy drinkers imbibe often and in large quantities. Moderate users don’t make decisions based on getting alcohol and rarely or never experience legal, social or physical consequences. Heavy drinkers experience consequences of their drinking, but if faced with compelling reasons are able to decrease or stop drinking altogether. Continued binge and heavy drinking can lead to becoming an alcoholic.

What defines an Alcoholic?

An alcoholic is someone who has lost his or her ability to control their drinking. According to the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, “the actual or potential alcoholic, with hardly an exception, will be absolutely unable to stop drinking on the basis of self-knowledge.” This means that regardless of consequences, alcoholics are unable to control their consumption of alcohol, even if they want to.


In the same 2016 survey, more than 10 million adults aged 26 or over had an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using.


Are you worried that you or a loved one is an Alcoholic?

Reach out to us if you think you or someone you know is on the way to becoming an alcoholic. Support staff is available 24 hours a day to provide guidance and help. You don’t have to do this alone!


Contact D’Amore Healthcare

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