It’s hard to avoid drinking alcohol and we all enjoy a drink from time to time, to celebrate, socialize or unwind. But how do you know when you are drinking too much alcohol?
It can be difficult to recognize when you are drinking too much. Unhealthy drinking habits gradually build which means you can no longer recognize the impacts it is having on your physical and mental health.
So what is the line between acceptable, healthy, occasional drinking and excessive alcohol consumption? This blog post will discuss how much alcohol is too much, the risks of drinking excessively, and the signs of unhealthy drinking habits.
What is Excessive Drinking?
Many of us regularly drink alcohol, however, we may not realize whether our alcohol intake is moderate, heavy, or somewhere in the middle. Excessive alcohol use can have short and long-term effects on our physical and mental health and there is no “safe” limit.
Nonetheless, the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have outlined details of different drinking amounts.
Moderate drinking is recognized as one standard drink per day for women, and two for men. Guidelines also suggest that if those of a legal age drink, they should drink less to avoid adverse risks to their health. In the US, a standard drink contains around 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol.
Research found that over 90% of individuals who are excessively drinking are binge drinking, which is the most common form of excessive drinking. Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks during one drinking session for women, and for men, it is defined as five or more drinks.
Heavy drinking is defined as consuming eight or more drinks per week for women and fifteen or more for men. However, research has found that although 30% of Americans reported excessive drinking, only 3.5% have an alcohol use disorder. Around 10% of heavy drinkers reported having an alcohol use disorder. Although this number may seem reassuring, it does not mean that the other 90% do not have a problem with alcohol. Heavy drinking can still cause alcohol-related problems, whether this is with health, social life, or relationships, and increases the risk of the individual developing an alcohol use disorder.
When reading these guidelines, it is important to know that alcohol affects people differently, even if drinking the same amount. Our individual factors, such as age, amount consumed, and body weight all affect how we react to alcohol.
Signs You Are Drinking Too Much
If you think that you are drinking too much alcohol, then it may be time to recognize your drinking behaviors. There are a number of warning signs that may indicate excessive drinking.
- If loved ones or people you are close to have begun to express their concern about your alcohol misuse, it could be a warning sign that you are drinking too much.
- Maybe you are lying about your alcohol intake to your family or friends; secrecy is a sign of excessive drinking. This also includes actions, such as hiding cans or bottles to make it seem like you have consumed less alcohol.
- It is possible that you have noticed your negative drinking habits and have tried to cut back but have been unsuccessful. If you have tried to unsuccessfully reduce your alcohol intake, it could indicate alcohol misuse.
- Drinking is often associated with social events and socializing, but it could become an issue if you regularly drink alone.
- You continue to drink despite negative consequences to your relationships, obligations, or daily activities. Maybe your drinking has brought problems to your personal or professional life.
- You have an increase in tolerance; if you are having to consume more of the same drink to feel the same effects as you previously did, it could be a sign of excessive alcohol use.
Another major sign of excessive drinking is the presence of withdrawal symptoms if you attempt to cut back or stop drinking altogether. Withdrawal symptoms, both physical and mental, are experienced by those who have alcohol dependence. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and can be easily managed with the right support.
Risks of Alcohol Abuse
Substance abuse of any kind comes with numerous side effects and risks that can affect your mental and physical health and your lifestyle. Continuing to drink high levels of alcohol on a regular basis increases the risk of experiencing an array of health problems and adverse side effects both short and long-term.
However much alcohol we drink, the effects are felt fairly quickly. Excessive alcohol use induces immediate effects that increase the chances of experiencing harmful health conditions. Some physical short-term risks include:
- Impaired vision
- Passing out
- Alcohol poisoning
Most often, individuals partake in risky behaviors after excessive drinking, including:
- Injuries, including motor vehicle crashes
- Risky sexual behaviors, including unprotected sex
- Alcohol poisoning, high blood alcohol levels that result in a medical emergency
Over time, drinking too much alcohol can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious health risks such as:
- Weakening of the immune system
- High blood pressure, heart disease, digestive problems
- Liver disease
- Mental health problems, including anxiety or depression
- Alcohol use disorder or alcohol dependence
By reducing the amount of alcohol that is being consumed, you can reduce the risk of experiencing adverse short or long-term side effects.
Treatment at Crossroads Antigua
At Crossroads Centre Antigua, we are committed to helping our clients begin their recovery journey to live a life free of alcohol and other drug dependencies. Whether you are struggling with opiates, cocaine, or alcohol, our team of licensed medical professionals provides addiction treatment with the utmost compassion and care.
Do you think your excessive alcohol use is affecting your thoughts, body, or behavior? Continued alcohol misuse can cause problems within your life, but you are not alone and Crossroads is here to help you get your life back on track.
We understand that addiction is not the same for two people. We aim to customize and create a detoxification and treatment plan to meet your specific needs. Our alcohol addiction treatment program typically begins with a medical detox where you are able to safely and comfortably detox from alcohol with 24/7 support and care. We utilize the 12-step plan to encourage self-examination through support, education, and accountability.
We want you to gain a new perspective on your addiction and aim to achieve this through insight-oriented therapy, whether this is individual or group sessions. Our therapies include:
- Trauma therapy
- Experimental therapy
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Individual and group therapy
- Mindfulness-based relapse prevention
We at Crossroads Antigua understand the importance of ensuring an effective aftercare plan is put in place so you are able to leave the treatment feeling well-supported and optimistic about the future. Continuing care begins are the start of treatment and through a collaborative approach, our team will help develop a plan that includes sober living options, sober coaching, or continuing support groups.
If you believe you or a loved one is excessively drinking or is beginning to show signs of an alcohol use disorder, then contact us today to see how we can help you. Our admissions team is ready to chat with you 24/7.