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The Difference Between Binge Drinking and Chronic Drinking

The Difference Between Binge Drinking and Chronic Drinking

Many people confuse chronic drinking with binge drinking, but the two are, in fact, very different. The difference between binge drinking and chronic drinking is that chronic drinking is when an individual drinks heavily over a prolonged period. Binge drinking is when one consumes large quantities of alcohol over a shorter period.

Binge drinking and chronic drinking are both forms of excessive drinking. Each has different implications on the body. Binge drinking is when a person consumes five or more alcoholic drinks in one sitting. Chronic drinking is consuming more than four drinks in one day.

Chronic drinking is continuous or frequent alcohol consumption. Binge drinking is an act of excessive drinking that usually lasts several hours. Overdrinking within a few minutes is also considered a binge. This causes damage to the body and brain.

What Is Binge Drinking?

Binge drinking is defined as consuming large quantities of alcohol in a short time, usually within about 2 hours. Binge drinking is more common among young adults than any other age group. It’s also a significant problem on college campuses, where it’s one of the main reasons for academic issues, such as poor grades and missed classes.

The CDC states that binge drinking elevates blood alcohol past healthy limits. This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks, and women consume 4 or more drinks in the span of two hours.

What Is Chronic Drinking?

Chronic drinking is defined as the consumption of alcohol regularly. This is usually done in excess and can result in many negative consequences.

The following are some of the signs and symptoms of chronic drinking:

  • Difficulty with sleeping
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Anxiety, depression, or irritability

How do experts define binge and chronic drinking?

Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 grams percent or above. Chronic drinking, on the other hand, is a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 grams percent or above for at least 8 weeks in one year.

Experts define binge and chronic drinking as patterns of drinking that bring blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 grams percent or above. A binge drinker consumes 4 drinks in 2 hours. In contrast, a chronic drinker consumes 4 drinks in 8 weeks. 

What Are the Main Differences Between Binge and Chronic Drinkers?

Firstly, binge drinkers consume a lot of alcohol in one sitting. In comparison, chronic drinkers drink large amounts over a year. Binge drinkers are more likely to be under age 30, whereas chronic is more likely to be over the age of 40.

Binge drinking is associated with an increased risk for liver and heart disease, stroke, and related problems. Similarly, chronic drinking is associated with an increased risk for breast cancer, esophageal cancer, pancreatitis, and other health problems. To compare, binging is drinking large quantities of alcohol in a single session. Chronic drinking is over an extended period, at least six weeks.

Consequently, the difference is that binge drinking occurs for a short duration. In contrast, chronic drinking lasts longer. Additionally, there are significant implications for those who binge once or twice as opposed to more frequently. See the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism – NIH for more details.

Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Addiction – Understanding the Terms

Lastly, we identify the main difference between alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction. Alcohol abuse is the excessive use of alcohol that leads to addiction. Alcohol abuse results in drinking too much, too often.

The main difference between alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction is that it is possible to be an alcoholic without abusing alcohol. There is a distinction between binging and chronic alcohol usage. Alcoholics may not have the same physical symptoms as their counterparts. 


In conclusion, some people only binge drink one or two nights per month. Others binge drink on a more regular basis. However, are there health differences between the two?

Research shows that there are differences in the way alcohol affects the brain. People drinking socially suffer fewer consequences than daily drinkers. Binge drinkers are differentiated from chronic drinkers by habitual frequency. Chronic drinking is more likely to have long-term negative health consequences. 

Do you need help with alcohol abuse?

If you recognize the signs of binge or chronic drinking, are you able to seek out help? Alcohol abuse is a serious issue affecting people from all walks of life. It leads to physical, emotional, and social problems.

It’s important to be aware of the signs of alcohol abuse and its risks. There are many resources available for help. You can find information about alcohol abuse on the CDC website or speak to your GP.

If you are struggling with alcohol abuse or addiction, help is available. Harm Reduction Center is a private health care facility located in South Florida that offers all levels of outpatient treatment. We understand the effects of alcohol on the body. We are prepared to help you with a comprehensive and compassionate treatment plan. Contact us today for more information!