Binge Drinking as a symptom of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

October 4, 2021
Johann Kassim

The diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders is known as the DSM. The current DSM is the DSM-V. It's the basis of all mental health diagnoses. To know more about the DSM-V, click here.

According to this treasure trove of diagnoses, Alcohol Use Disorder or AUD is a problem. Anyone with a drinking problem who meets 2 out of the 11 question criteria of AUD will be diagnosed as AUD. This can range from mild binge drinking to severe alcoholism.  In all this, binge drinking is a defining symptom of this illness.

Are all binge drinkers alcoholic?

No, not all binge drinkers are alcoholic. Alcoholism is a biological, physical, mental, and spiritual dependency on alcohol. Whereas, binge drinking is consuming large amounts of alcohol in one sitting. It's certain that alcoholism involves a great deal of binge drinking. But, non-alcoholics also enjoy a binge of alcoholic beverages. It doesn't take being dependent on alcohol, to be a binge drinker.

What's the difference between binge and normal drinking?

Binge drinking consists of taking copious amounts of alcohol in one sitting. Normal drinking, on the other hand, consists of taking a moderate amount of alcohol in one sitting. Examples of binge drinking could range from having more than 1 litre of lager to finishing a bottle of spirits in one session. And examples of normal drinking could range from a glass or two of wine or lager in one session.

How does alcohol affect a person, drink by drink?

The difference between binge and normal drinking comes down to the amount drunk. Since that's the case, we'll look at how alcohol affects a person, drink by drink.

For a glass of wine / a pint of lager, the following are the symptoms of alcohol consumption:

The drinker is talkative and relaxed. He/she will have increased levels of self-confidence. Also, the drinker will not be able to drive as he will be non-cognisant on the road.

For two glasses of wine / two pints of lager, the following are the symptoms of alcohol consumption:

Blood flow will increase. The drinker will feel less inhibited, with lowered attention spans. He/she will be dehydrated, which causes a hangover.

For three glasses of wine / three pints of lager, the following are the symptoms of alcohol consumption:

The liver works harder. The drinker will have an increase in sex drive, while decision making decreases. He/she will also take longer to react to various situations.

Lastly, for four glasses of wine / four pints of lager, the following are the symptoms of alcohol consumption:

The drinker will be easily confused. He/she is noticeably emotional. And the drinker will experience a decrease in sex drive.

Why do people binge drink?

As compared to normal drinking, why would people binge drink? There are many reasons for doing this. Here are some reasons why people would binge drink:

Active alcohol addiction

Alcoholics in active addiction will binge drink. It is a symptom of the disease of alcoholism. Without proper treatment and a program of recovery, it gets worse never better. As a chronic illness, the amount of alcohol will increase over time in alcoholic binge drinking. This may lead to many problems such as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS) and alcoholic hepatitis, to name a few. For more information on WKS, you may click here. And take a look at alcoholic hepatitis by following this link.

To forget one’s problems  

Another reason to binge drink is to numb one’s problems. A person may start feeling good as a result of drinking, and try to have more to maintain that “good feeling.” Though, there is never enough to numb reality.

Having fun

Drinks form the core of any social occasion. Be it parties, functions, family gatherings, or even a night-in; in front of the TV. At these events, it's tempting to let go of inhibitions. Yet, this is a slippery slope towards dependency or addiction.

Testing tolerance

Drinking at parties may become a competitive sport. College students test each other's capability to down copious amounts of alcohol. There are many alcoholic games, in which binge drinking is promoted as a "cool" lifestyle. Peers will try to outdo one another not realising the danger herein.


Many adolescents and young adults want to be seen as unique individuals. Some of them may turn to binge drinking as an act of rebellion. From this act, they may be able to get a sense of individuality and self-esteem. After a while, the facade of esteem provided by drinking alcohol, will dissipate leaving a grim reality.

What are some of the side-effects of binge drinking?

As mentioned before, active alcoholism may wreak ailments such as WKS and alcoholic hepatitis. Besides these, here are some other side-effects from binge drinking. These effects can be divided into two classes: short-term and long-term effects.

Below are some examples of short-term effects of binge drinking:

Poor decision making;

Nausea; and

Memory loss/ blackouts; wherein the drinker has no recall of the drinking episode.

Below are some examples of long-term effects of binge drinking:

Brain damage;

Liver disease (Hepatitis); and


Seek Treatment for Binge Drinking at Solace Sabah

It doesn’t matter if you are an alcoholic or not, treatment will help to stem the tide of binge drinking. Like active alcoholism, the desire to binge drink will increase over time. Eventually, you or a loved one may get addicted to alcohol. But, should you act now, the undesirable effects of binge drinking could be stopped.  

We are an alcohol and drug rehabilitation centre located in Sabah in Malaysian Borneo. We are specialised to treat alcoholism as well as any alcohol-related issues. This includes of course, binge drinking. Our program is geared to educate our clients with the choice to quit this behaviour in a structured and caring manner.

To begin treating binge drinking, you or a loved one may need to undergo detoxification. We have a local host hospital who will be able to temper the detoxification process. Unaided alcohol withdrawals can be severe to deadly if not processed medically. You or a loved one may suffer from strokes, coma, or death due to delirium tremens. You can read more about it, by viewing our article on “Delirium Tremens and The Alcoholic.”

For more information on our treatment program, do give us a call. We’ll be most pleased to help you or a loved one recover from binge drinking for good.

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