Substance Use

How Much Alcohol Is Too Much? Learn The Facts & Stay Safe

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Heavy Drinking, Problem Drinking, and Alcoholism

Heavy drinking is defined differently for men and women due to body composition, but excessive drinking causes many adverse health effects for both. Multiple factors can cause people to increase alcohol consumption beyond an amount typical for moderate drinkers, and high risk drinking is often involved in motor vehicle accidents and alcohol poisoning.

A glass of wine at dinner or other forms of moderate drinking is part of many people’s lives and may even have some protective effects on our health. However, it can be challenging to know when drinking has gone too far.

Many people don’t realize the potential impact of alcohol consumption until it’s too late. That’s why it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse, the health risks associated with overconsumption, and treatment options for alcoholism and addiction.

Knowing these key points will help ensure that you remain safe while enjoying alcoholic beverages responsibly in social situations or at home.

Zinnia Health is devoted to helping those with an alcohol dependency, no matter how severe. Our recovery programs take a holistic approach, providing evidence-based treatments such as detox, inpatient, and outpatient care for people who want to regain control of their lives. Our alcohol hotline is available 24 hours per day, so we can be here for you when you’re ready to make a change. Call (855) 430-9439 today.

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How Much Alcohol Is Too Much?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), heavy drinking is defined as:

  • Four or more drinks on any day or eight or more per week for women
  • Five or more drinks on any day or 15 or more per week for men

Heavy drinking can significantly increase the risk of developing alcohol use disorder (AUD), as well as other alcohol-related consequences.

The Difference Between Drinking for Men and Women

Women have a lower heavy drinking threshold because alcohol is distributed evenly in body water. Pound for pound, women have comparatively less body water than men, which explains why the effects of alcohol are typically stronger.

Because of the difference in metabolic pathways, a woman’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) will be higher when she drinks the same amount as a man.

How Much Alcohol is Safe Daily?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 recommends that adults of legal drinking age either abstain or limit their intake.

Men should stick with two drinks or less, and women should drink one drink or less per day. According to NIAAA, a standard drink in the U.S. contains approximately 14 grams of alcohol, which can be found in:

  • 12 ounces of regular beer
  • A typical 5-ounce glass of wine
  • Approximately 1.5 ounces of a distilled spirit (liquor such as whiskey or rum)

The guidelines emphasize that if adults of legal drinking age decide to drink alcoholic beverages, less consumption is better for their health than more. Furthermore, the guidelines do not encourage individuals who don’t consume alcohol to start drinking for any reason.

Why Do People Drink Excessively?

According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, the exact cause of alcohol use disorder (AUD) remains unknown, but researchers have identified probable risk factors including:

  • Home environment
  • Peer relationships
  • Genetics
  • Intellectual capabilities
  • Pre-existing psychological disorders

If you recognize any of these signs or symptoms in yourself or someone you know, it’s important to seek medical advice right away. Addiction to alcohol can strain your relationships, career, and even your life. If you’re ready to recover, Zinnia Health is here to provide the support and treatment you need. Our knowledgeable, caring staff are available 24/7 on our helpline. Call (855) 430-9439 to get started.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse

Common signs of alcohol abuse include:

1. Physical Symptoms

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of coordination
  • Coma or death

In severe cases, excessive levels of alcohol intake and high blood alcohol levels can cause organ damage, such as liver disease or heart problems. Long-term heavy drinking may also lead to an increased risk for certain types of cancer.

2. Behavioral Symptoms

Alcohol abuse can manifest in changes in behavior and attitude. These include:

  • Irritability or aggression when sober
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Neglecting responsibilities at home or work
  • Engaging in high-risk behaviors like driving while intoxicated
  • Lying about how much alcohol is consumed or hiding bottles around the house
  • Mood swings that range from depression to euphoria
  • Isolation from friends and family members due to feelings of guilt or shame associated with the addict’s drinking habits
  • Being prone to outbursts of anger or frustration without warning

Who is at Risk for Alcohol Poisoning?

Anyone who drinks excessive amounts of alcohol is at risk for alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning is a life-threatening condition caused by too much alcohol, usually over a short period. 

What Are the First Signs of Alcohol Poisoning?

The symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slow breathing (less than eight breaths per minute)
  • Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths)
  • Low body temperature
  • Pale or bluish skin
  • Unresponsiveness

If you believe someone has alcohol poisoning, seek medical help right away. It’s crucial to get them the treatment they need to prevent serious complications and even death.

What Are the Risks of Drinking Too Much?

The CDC reports that more than 140,000 Americans die each year from alcohol abuse. The health risks of excessive drinking include:

1. Short-Term Effects

Every day, 29 lives in the United States are cut short due to motor vehicle collisions caused by an alcohol-impaired driver, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Binge drinking can have a wide range of short-term effects on the body, including:

  • Impaired judgment and coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Blackouts
  • Memory loss

It can also lead to risky behavior, such as unprotected sex or driving while intoxicated.

2. Long-Term Effects

Long-term alcohol abuse can cause serious health problems such as:

  • Liver damage, including cirrhosis
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Increased cancer risk, including breast cancer
  • Depression and anxiety disorders

A study published in the National Library of Medicine concludes that excessive alcohol use also increases the risk of developing dementia later in life. 

If You Are Drinking Too Much Alcohol, Seek Help Today

Alcohol abuse can be a difficult and dangerous problem, but with the right help and support, it’s possible to overcome it. Learning the difference between moderate alcohol consumption and excessive drinking can help you stay safe and make informed decisions about your health.

If you or someone you know is struggling with medical conditions due to drinking alcohol, there are treatment options available that can provide the guidance needed for recovery. With dedication and commitment, anyone affected by alcoholism or addiction can find hope in a healthier future.

Are you struggling to break free from alcohol dependence? At Zinnia Health, we understand that entering into sobriety is a difficult journey, and we are here to help. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive range of healthcare solutions tailored specifically to your needs. Call (855) 430-9439 for assistance.

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