Alcohol is a part of life for many people, and most people don’t give much thought to their drinking habits until they start drinking too much or experience negative side effects. Alcohol is readily available at social gatherings, restaurants, celebrations, and more. While drinking in moderation can be safe, excessive drinking is harmful to the mind and body. So how much alcohol is too much?
What is a Standard Drink?
In order to understand whether or not you’re drinking too much alcohol, you must understand what is considered a standard drink. In the U.S., a standard drink is any drink that contains 14 grams, or about 0.6 fluid ounces of pure ethanol (alcohol). This is the equivalent to:
- 12 ounces of 5% ABV beer
- 8 ounces of 7% ABV malt liquor
- 5 ounces of 12% ABV wine
- 1.5 ounces of 40% ABV (80-proof) distilled spirits or liquor (examples: gin, rum, vodka, whiskey)
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, adults of legal drinking age can drink in moderation by limiting their alcohol intake to 2 drinks or less per day for men and 1 drink or less per day for women. Drinking less is always better for your health than drinking more.
How Much Alcohol is Too Much?
If you are a man who drinks more than 2 alcoholic beverages per day or a woman who drinks more than 1, you may drink too much alcohol, and your drinking habits can become harmful to your health.
There are many different types of excessive drinking, all of which involve drinking too much alcohol over a period of time. Examples of excessive drinking include:
- Binge drinking – Binge drinking is a dangerous drinking pattern characterized by having 4 or more drinks for women or 5 or more drinks for men on one occasion (usually a 2-3 hour period). Binge drinking can increase blood alcohol concentration (BAC) quickly, resulting in significant intoxication, loss of coordination, poor decision-making, and alcohol poisoning.
- Heavy drinking – The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines heavy drinking as having more than 8 drinks per week for women and 15 drinks per week for men. Heavy drinking, particularly over a long period of time, can lead to alcohol dependence and addiction, health problems, and more.
- Pregnant drinking – If a woman is pregnant, any alcohol she drinks is too much. Alcohol can be harmful to the unborn child and have negative effects on the pregnancy.
- Underage drinking – People must be 21 years of age to consume alcohol. Any alcohol use among those under age 21 can be considered excessive drinking because alcohol can be damaging to the developing brain. Young people may also be more prone to poor decision-making which can be exacerbated by alcohol use.
It’s important to note that drinking too much alcohol even once can alter the course of your life permanently, especially in situations of binge drinking, pregnant drinking, or underage drinking. Consuming too much alcohol regularly over long periods of time can also lead to health issues, social problems, and other consequences.
If you choose to drink, you should do so in moderation. However, if you find that you can’t control your drinking or have a poor relationship with alcohol, you should seek help from a trusted alcohol rehab center.
Signs and Symptoms of Drinking too Much Alcohol
Alcohol abuse can have negative impacts on your physical, mental, and emotional health. Signs that you may be drinking too much include:
- Frequent hangovers
- Blacking out (memory loss) while drinking
- Worsening depression or anxiety
- Getting hurt while drinking
- Hurting others while drinking (physically or emotionally)
- Suffering alcohol poisoning
- Making bad decisions (drunk driving, unprotected sex, and more)
- Needing to increase the amount you drink to feel the same effects
- Gastrointestinal upset including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or acid-reflux
- Feeling out of control of your alcohol intake once you start drinking
If you think you may be drinking too much, it’s time to cut back your alcohol consumption to moderate levels (no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men). If cutting back on drinking is difficult for you, it may be time to get help for your drinking problem.
When is it Time to Get Help for Alcohol Addiction?
In the long term, excessive drinking can lead to the development of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, a weakened immune system, mental health problems, and more. The best way to avoid these consequences is to stop drinking, but when is it time to get professional help?
If you identify with one or more of the following, it is time to seek professional help from an alcohol rehab center.
- Making multiple failed attempts to cut back or stop drinking
- Lying to friends and family about your alcohol use
- Neglecting your responsibilities in order to drink
- Spending excess time drinking and recovering from the effects of alcohol
- Having intense, persistent alcohol cravings
- Having alcohol withdrawal symptoms if you stop drinking
- Being unable to stop drinking after you’ve started drinking on more than one occasion
Start Your Recovery at our Top-Rated California Alcohol Rehab Center Today
At Sheer Recovery, our comprehensive alcohol rehab program in Southern California consists of medical detox, individualized treatment, and thorough aftercare planning–each of which is driven by evidence-based practices that are proven effective at treating alcoholism.
In addition to our clinical services, we provide clients with a safe, private, and comfortable residential treatment environment for alcoholism recovery. Our executive-level facilities offer semi-private and private rooms, ocean views, and a host of amenities that make you feel secure. The combination of attentive staff, luxurious treatment setting, and high-quality services are what set Sheer Recovery apart from other alcohol rehab centers in the area.
If you or a loved one are addicted to alcohol, please reach out to one of our qualified admissions coordinators to learn about your alcoholism treatment options.
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