To determine if you are drinking too much alcohol, you must understand the difference between moderate drinking and heavy drinking. Although “how much is too much” varies from person to person, if you are regularly drinking moderate to heavy amounts, it is probably too much.
Some doctors define light drinking as just over one (1.2) drink per day. Moderate drinking is just over two (2.2) drinks per day and heavy drinking is three and a half. People who consume 5.4 drinks or more per day are misusing alcohol.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines moderate drinking more conservatively. According to HHS, moderate drinking is defined as up to one drink for women and up to two drinks for men in a single day. Consuming more than this amount is considered excessive.
Moderate drinkers avoid consuming excessive amounts of alcohol. This type of drinking implies reasonable limits and refers to a safe amount of alcohol to consume.
In most cases, moderate drinking is low-risk in terms of health.
Statistics show that only about 2 percent of people who limit their alcohol intake to moderate consumption have alcohol use disorder (AUD).
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Heavy drinking and binge drinking are not considered forms of “drinking in moderation.” A binge is defined as four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men within 2 hours. Most binge drinkers have a pattern of indulging in high amounts of alcohol. However, even if it only happens once, it is still a binge. Recurrent binges qualify someone as a heavy drinker.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), heavy drinking occurs when someone binges five or more times per month.
Binge drinking is a problem for people in the United States, especially college-aged people and young adults.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
Several factors may indicate that someone is drinking too much. If you are experiencing any of the following, it is time to evaluate your alcohol consumption:
Symptoms of AUD include:
Heavy drinking behavior poses many health risks and increases your odds of developing a variety of health conditions including:
Recognizing when it’s time to seek treatment for heavy alcohol consumption can be a life and death decision. Sometimes it requires intervention from loved ones, but some people understand on their own when it’s time. This is occasionally referred to as “rock bottom,” but a person shouldn’t wait to reach this point if they want to get sober.
Some of the most common signs that it is time to seek alcoholism treatment:
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, loved ones have expressed concerns about your drinking habits, or you have questions about drinking too much, reach out to Addiction Group to speak to a specialist.
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Abel, E. L., et al. “How Do Physicians Define ‘Light,’ ‘Moderate,’ and ‘Heavy’ Drinking?” Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, vol. 22, no. 5, 1 Aug. 1998, pp. 979–984, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9726266/, 10.1111/j.1530-0277.1998.tb03692.x.
Agg, Jennie. “Ten Signs You’re Drinking a Little Too Much.” Mail Online, 22 Dec. 2014, www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2884202/Ten-signs-drinking-little-s-know-enjoying-odd-glass-wine-slips-harmful.html.
Oliviero, Helena, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Binge Drinking, Risks Common Far beyond Frat Houses and the Young.” Ajc, www.ajc.com/lifestyles/health/binge-drinking-risks-common-far-beyond-frat-houses-and-the-young/ltDjt4kykwwespxtjg3rEN/.