Do you drink every day and are wondering if you are an alcoholic? Do you find yourself feeling guilty about your alcohol consumption? Is it possibly affecting your life in negative ways? If you are one of those people wondering if your level of drinking alcohol is at an unhealthy level, there are a few facts you might want to know.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, moderate alcohol consumption is defined as one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men. They also define binge drinking as typically occurring after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men in a time span of about 2 hours. Heavy alcohol use is classified as binge drinking on 5 or more days in the past month. A man is considered to be at risk for developing Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) if he drinks 4 drinks in one day or up to 14 drinks every week. A woman is considered to be at risk for developing Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) if she has 3 drinks on any single day and no more than 7 drinks per week.
Information About Alcohol Consumption
If you have a drink every day, you should keep some important facts in mind. Men and women are not equal when it comes to consuming alcohol. According to the B.R.A.D. website that reports on and encourages responsible drinking, women absorb alcohol into their bloodstream faster than men. They also metabolize it slower. Women who drink regularly are at a much greater risk for liver disease than men. More women who are alcoholics die from cirrhosis of the liver than men.
Whether you are a man or woman, alcohol goes directly into the bloodstream and affects every system in the body. For men, excessive drinking can cause decreased amount of testosterone and cause impotence. It is a nervous system depressant for both men and women. The small intestine rapidly absorbs alcohol, and it goes into the bloodstream. Peak blood alcohol levels occur 60 to 90 minutes after ingestion on an empty stomach.
If you are curious to know how your drinking behavior stacks up to other adults in the United States, B.R.A.D. shares the following drinking statistics:
• Binge drinking is more common for women than men.
• You are classified as a light drinker if you have 3 or few drinks per week.
• 5% of adults are classified as heavy drinkers. This means 7 or more drinks per week for women and 14 or more per week for men.
• 20% of adults had more than 5 drinks per day at least once in the last year.
Casual Drinking or Alcoholism?
There are notable differences between casual drinking and problems with alcoholism. It is important to remember that alcoholism takes many forms and there really is no stereotype. So how do you tell the difference between having a few drinks with a friend on a regular basis or if you have an alcohol addiction? Having a few drinks with friends, wine at dinner does not mean you have an alcohol addiction. Furthermore, there is a difference between alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction. The term alcoholism is an addiction where the individual has a physical or psychological need to consume alcohol. Abuse is a pattern of behavior where someone drinks in excess despite the consequences. It is important to distinguish the types of drinking.
Some people are classified as heavy drinkers. Men who are under the age of 65 and have more than 14 drinks in a week are considered heavy drinkers. Women or men over the age of 65 who consume more than 3 drinks a day, or more than seven a week, are considered heavy drinkers. Binge drinkers are those who drink large amounts of alcohol at one sitting. Men who have five or more drinks in two hours, or women who have four or more in two hours, are considered binge drinkers.
Signs of Alcoholism
If you are not sure what category you fit into, and you are trying to determine if you have an alcohol problem, there are signs which may help you determine if you are an alcoholic or are in danger of becoming one:
• If you find yourself neglecting responsibilities or having low performance at work at school
• Not paying attention to family members or not meeting commitments because you are drunk or hung over
• Driving while intoxicated or mixing alcohol with medication
• Putting your life or the life of others in danger
• Using alcohol as a way to distress every day, or especially after an argument or stressful situation
• Drinking even though you know it upsets your spouse or family members and fighting with those who criticize your drinking habits
It is normal to have a few drinks with friends and family to de-stress. However, if you become physically or emotionally dependent on alcohol every day in order to relieve your stress, you may have a problem. If you find that you are constantly thinking about your next drink, and you have tried to limit your drinking but have never succeeded, you may be addicted.
The bottom line is that alcohol is a drug. Alcoholism arises as you develop a tolerance. The more you drink, the less you become susceptible to the effects. If you drink repetitively, the body begins to expect alcohol to be present in your system. That leads to alcohol withdrawal syndrome which is when the body reacts to a lack of alcohol in the bloodstream.
Take an Objective Look at Your Drinking
Now that you know the facts, you can objectively look at your patterns of behavior when it comes to drinking. Identify your drinking habits and decide if the amount of alcohol you consume is at an unhealthy level. If it is, you may be a binge drinker or you are not using good judgment when it comes to your alcohol consumption. Try modifying your drinking habits If you can do so easily, you can be successful spending a period of time not drinking alcohol. If modifying or cutting back is a problem, then you should seriously consider the fact that you may have an alcohol addiction. Seek help immediately to decrease your risk of permanent health issues. You can get your life and your health back on track.