What Is Considered Excessive Alcohol Use?
Excessive alcohol use has become a fairly acceptable norm in much of the world. People drink at all sorts of activities and at home, many times thinking nothing of it. But what about those who drink more than they want to? Or those that suffer unfortunate consequences due to drinking? Do you sometimes wonder if you’re an alcoholic? What exactly is considered excessive alcohol use?
Have you woken up with one too many hangovers vowing to never drink again, only to find yourself doing just that a week later?
What is considered excessive alcohol use?
According to the Center of Disease Control, excessive alcohol use when it comes to binge drinking is four or more drinks consumed in one sitting for women and for men, five or more drinks. Or, if you want to think in weekly terms, excessive alcohol use for women would be eight or more drinks per week and 15 drinks or more for men per week.
What is considered a drink?
One 12-ounce bottle of beer, 8 ounces of liquor, 5 ounces of 12% ABV wine or 1.5 ounces of 40% ABV liquor, like vodka, whiskey, rum, or gin. The CDC also states that over 90% of excessive drinkers are the binge drinkers. These are the people who usually binge drink on the weekends, engaging in excessive alcohol use every weekend, but abstaining during the week usually while they attend work or school.
Questioning your drinking behavior may be a sign of alcoholism
It’s not always easy to know if you’re an alcoholic or engage in excessive alcohol use, but chances are if you are asking the question, you may be on that path. If so, it will interest you to know that there are plenty of excellent alcohol treatment centers ready and willing to help you out.
Granted, not everyone who engages an excessive alcohol use is an alcoholic. There are plenty of binge drinkers who are not alcoholics, but the path that they are on is not healthy for them. Excessive alcohol use can still result in negative consequences, and oftentimes binge drinkers get so inebriated that they do plenty of drinking and driving, or perhaps get into fights with others. Others may have such hangovers that they can’t get up and go to work, or start to have relationship problems due to their binge drinking. It’s not so much whether one is an alcoholic or not, it’s really getting honest with oneself and looking at the consequences of any drinking behavior.
Here are some common characteristics of those who would be considered alcoholics:
- You drink more than you want to. You find yourself continuing to say, “I just want to drink a couple”, yet you drink more and more; you can’t shut it off.
- You think about drinking a lot. Your mental focus is on alcohol. You wonder and plan your next drinking day or cannot wait to get home to have that drink.
- You lose interest in other things. You may have used to like extra-curricular activities or hobbies, but now you’ve cut back on them. You’d rather drink alone or go to the bars. You may even lose interest in hanging out with your family.
- You feel guilty after drinking. You wake up feeling guilty or ashamed of your drinking. You feel like you are doing something wrong.
- You lose control once you have a couple of drinks. You want to only drink a couple, but once you do, your brain automatically screams for more. You succumb without even thinking about it.
- You continue to drink, even though it causes you problems. Maybe your relationship ends on account of your drinking habits. Or perhaps you miss days at work due to hangovers or your health is going downhill from a lot of booze consumption. You may even experience legal trouble like DWI, yet you keep drinking.
- Your tolerance is getting higher. You used to be able to catch a good buzz after two beers, but now you have to drink four or five to get a good buzz. High tolerance is a warning sign that you’re headed toward alcoholism.
- You experience withdrawal when you stop drinking. You wake up with your hands shaking or experience a lot of anxiety in between drinking periods. You have trouble sleeping without drinking before bed. You may also experience nausea, sweating, or irritability.
- You hide booze at home or at work and you keep your drinking a secret. You may drink a few before you even go to a social gathering because you don’t want people to know how much you’re drinking. You also hide booze at the house or at work so no one knows about your drinking behavior.
- You experience blackouts. You get so drunk you don’t remember things you did the previous night.
- You can’t relax unless you’re drinking. You justify your nightly drinking by saying it relaxes you after a long, stressful day. The more stress you experience, the more alcohol you drink.
- Your family or friends are concerned about your drinking. They mention it to you, but you assure them that you are fine. You tell them you can quit anytime you want.
If some of these resonate with you, you could very well be an alcoholic or at the very least, a problem drinker becoming dependent upon alcohol. Excessive alcohol use is certainly going on. We may be living in a society where the media portrays alcohol use as being fun and necessary in order to have a good time.
Surely you’ve seen all the commercials where everyone has a beer or drink in hand and it looks like they are having a blast. In fact, many times the media will portray that engaging in an activity without drinking will be dull and boring.
The reality is that you do not need alcohol in order to have a good time by yourself or with other people. What those commercials don’t show you are the extremely inebriated people who are not in their right mind, doing things that they regret. Saying things that hurt people. Getting in their car and driving drunk, perhaps crashing as a result. It doesn’t show the people that are vomiting in their bathrooms or in the middle of the night, or waking up with horrible hangovers. It doesn’t show those that are struggling with trying not to drink, but going through daunting withdrawal symptoms that keep them reaching for more alcohol.
That’s not to say that there are some out there who can have a social drink every so often. But those are few and far in between those who engage in excessive alcohol use. Let’s not forget that alcohol is an addictive drug. The more often you drink it, the more likely your physical body will become addicted to it. Even if you do not struggle with the disease of alcoholism, you can still struggle with excessive alcohol use that really doesn’t serve you at all.
Reach out for help
If you or a loved one is struggling with drinking more than you want, it’s time to really get honest with yourself and admit it that you need help. Maybe you’ve tried to stop drinking on your own. Maybe if tried multiple times and just cannot seem to make the break. Know that you’re not alone, and there are professionals that can help you when it comes to making that final break.
You might be afraid to stop drinking, like you’d be giving up a good friend. Many people feel that way, but once they do make that final break, they realize that they are not giving up a good friend, but they are gaining themselves once again. They are gaining control and learning to navigate life sober and free. There are many recovering alcoholics or those who have given up alcohol out of choice who will tell you that their life is so much better without alcohol in it.
Various paths to recovery
There are many paths to sobriety and your job is to figure out what works for you. There are inpatient and outpatient rehabs, 12-step groups such as AA or SMART Recovery, or substance abuse professionals. What works for one might not work for another, so you may want to try different things.
Recovery is possible. It won’t be easy, but it doesn’t have to be challenging either. Keep an optimistic attitude, and just know that you are not alone in your goal to stop drinking.
You can overcome alcoholism with treatment and a solid recovery plan. If you’re concerned about your drinking, contact us today. We’re here to assist you in finding the best recovery plan for you, and can answer any questions you may have regarding treatment.
Today begins your first day to a new life – a life free from the grip of alcohol. Get your life back, and create a life that you absolutely love. Give us a call today!