The Drinking Dilemma: How Much Is Too Much?
22 April, 2022
Happy hours, brunches, holiday get-togethers, and even a weekend night out can easily make you lose count of how much you’re drinking. Have you ever wondered whether you drink too much? Or exactly how much is too much?
There is no real answer to how much is too much, simply because drinking patterns can be erratic and even unique. Some people might indulge in a bit of wine every other day to take the edge off, while others might remain sober the whole week only to buy and finish a 24-pack of beer over the weekend. No situation is the same and everyone reacts their own way.
To most people, unless it starts affecting professional, personal, or social lives, the number of drinks consumed doesn’t matter. As long as one only has to deal with an annoying hangover and nothing more, drinking is not an issue.
At least not yet.
How Are Drinking Patterns Scientifically Explained and Categorized?
According to the "Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025,” adults of legal drinking age can choose not to drink or to drink in moderation by limiting intake to two drinks or less in a day for men and one drink or less in a day for women when alcohol is consumed. Drinking less is better for health than drinking more.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), binge drinking is a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 percent — or 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter — or higher. This pattern corresponds to consuming five or more drinks for men, or four or more drinks for women, in about two hours.
NIAAA defines heavy drinking as follows:
For men, consuming more than four drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks per week
For women, consuming more than three drinks on any day or more than seven drinks per week
Both binge drinking and heavy alcohol use can increase an individual's risk of developing alcohol use disorder.
What Are the Different Types of Alcohol Use Disorder?
There are three main types of alcohol use disorder (AUD):
Mild alcohol use disorder
Moderate alcohol use disorder
Severe alcohol use disorder
What Is Mild AUD?
Mild AUD is characterized by the consumption of more than two standard drinks per day for women and over three standard drinks per day for men. When it comes to occasion, this changes to four drinks for the former and five for the latter. Binge drinking and heavy drinking are often characterized as mild AUD.
What Is Moderate AUD?
Moderate AUD, commonly known as alcohol abuse, can range anywhere from binge drinking to alcohol dependency. This encompasses alcohol-related disease and systemic conditions, accidents, and even crimes.
Simply put, alcohol abuse is a condition whereby a person continues to drink despite being aware of all related consequences.
What Is Severe AUD?
Severe AUD, commonly known as alcoholism, is a condition where there is no longer a drinking pattern involved. The individual drinks out of need, necessity, and dependency regardless of the hour, day, or occasion.
There are several risk factors that can make certain people more prone to developing severe AUD. These include childhood trauma, history of mental health disorders, genetics, early alcohol abuse, troubled past, and an enabling social environment.
How Does One Uncover a Drinking Pattern?
It is very easy to get lost in a moment and lose count of the number of drinks you are consuming. However, this may turn into a problem if it’s happening multiple times during a week without you keeping a check.
Understanding the different types of AUD can help you know whether you have a problem and seek help before it gets out of hand.
Excessive drinking, no matter the severity of AUD, can chemically alter your brain. When the need for a drink turns into an obsession, you become vulnerable to countless medical conditions and even malignancies that can severely affect the quality of your life and even shorten it by several decades.
There is a fine line between yearning for that delightful buzz that comes from a few casual weekend night drinks and the alarmingly desperate need for alcohol that can come at any hour of any day.
How much is too much? With the literature and statistics aside, too much is probably the point where you no longer control how much alcohol you are consuming daily or weekly. You drink not because you want to, but because you need to.
Alcohol use disorder can quietly rob you of a normal, healthy, successful life within a matter of weeks or months. Fortunately, there is always a way out. With the help of targeted therapies, treatments, behavioral and lifestyle changes, and even medical intervention, you can expect to go back to the way things once were when alcohol wasn’t controlling your brain.
At The Forge Recovery Center, we can help you get there. Our team comprises some of the most experienced and highly skilled professionals in the industry. We specialize in tailoring treatments that cater to your problems and needs.
Alcohol dependency can make you feel alone and friendless, but once you hit rock bottom, you’ll realize that the only way out is up.
If you are ready to take charge of your life and quit alcohol once and for all, call The Forge Recovery Center. Take your first step towards recovery today with The Forge!