Heavy alcohol use is defined as a pattern of heavy drinking that exceeds recommended guidelines or poses a risk for alcohol-related problems. The definition of excessive alcohol use may vary depending on the country, organization, or agency that sets the guidelines. However, it typically involves consuming a large quantity of alcohol over a short period or regularly partaking in excessive drinking of alcohol.

the disease control and mental health services administration educates those on limiting intake on how much a person drinks

How Much Alcohol is Considered Binge Drinking?

In the United States, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines heavy drinking use as consuming more than four drinks on any day for men or more than three drinks for women, or more than 14 drinks per week for men or more than seven drinks per week for women.

It’s important to note that binge drinking can have serious negative consequences, including addiction, liver disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and certain types of cancer. If you’re concerned about your drinking, it’s important to seek help from a professional substance abuse treatment center.

Signs of Alcohol Abuse

For many people, alcohol is a part of their social lives and relaxation routines. However, for some, alcohol use can become problematic, leading to negative consequences in their personal and professional lives. While these individuals may not meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorder (AUD), they may still have a problematic relationship with alcohol.

People who fall into the “almost alcoholic” category may not have developed a physical alcohol dependence, but they may still be at risk for negative consequences related to their drinking.

These individuals may have a pattern of drinking that falls short of the criteria for AUD but still causes problems in their personal and professional lives. For example, they may drink to cope with stress, experience frequent hangovers, or have difficulty controlling their drinking. Recognizing problematic drinking patterns in “almost alcoholic” individuals can be challenging, as they may not see their drinking as a problem. It’s important to recognize these signs, however, as they may lead to more severe forms of binge drinking.

Signs of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

  • Drinking to cope with stress or negative emotions
  • Continuing to drink despite negative consequences (e.g., relationship problems, health issues, work performance)
  • Difficulty controlling how much or how often they drink
  • Experiencing blackouts or memory lapses while binge drinking alcohol
  • Feeling guilty or ashamed about their excessive drinking

It is important to seek help early for problems with heavy drinking, which may involve speaking with a healthcare professional, attending a support group, or seeking treatment from an addiction center.

distilled spirits or having a mixed drink with alcohol content can lead to addiction, mental health challenges and other consequences

What Is Drinking in Moderation?

Drinking in moderation refers to consuming alcohol in a responsible and controlled manner while staying within the recommended guidelines for safe drinking. The guidelines for moderate alcohol use are defined as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men, with any more than this considered excessive drinking.

Tips to Keep Alcohol Use Moderate

When drinking in moderation, it is important to drink slowly, space out drinks, and stay aware of the amount of alcohol consumed. It is also important to avoid driving or engaging in any other activities that require alertness or coordination after having even more than one drink if it puts you over the legal limit for alcoholic beverages. Nursing a glass of wine with a meal will be less of a shock to your system than when you drink alcohol on an empty stomach.

It is also important to wait until you are at the legal drinking age to consume alcohol, as underage drinking may lead to an increased risk of becoming more alcohol dependent or even developing alcohol use disorder.

Even Moderately Drinking Alcohol May Not Be For Everyone

It is important to note that the definition of moderate drinking may not be appropriate for everyone, especially for people with certain medical conditions or those taking certain medications. Therefore, it is always best to consult with a healthcare professional or an addiction treatment specialist for professional help to determine if it is safe and appropriate for your situation to drink alcohol.

alcoholism is a medical condition that can affect any health adults causing negative health effects

The Dangers of Continued Heavy Drinking

Heavy drinking or excessive alcohol consumption is characterized by consuming excessive amounts of alcohol regularly or on a single occasion, surpassing the recommended guidelines for moderate drinking. Most people who binge drink are not dependent on alcohol only. Binge drinkers are different from alcoholics.

Continued excessive alcohol use can lead to a range of alcohol-related harms. Individuals struggling with binge drinking may struggle with physical health as well as with depression or anxiety. Individuals who drink excessively may also struggle with social and financial issues.

Physical Risks

Some of the health risks associated with alcohol abuse can include liver disease, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and certain types of cancers, including prostate cancer, breast cancer, liver cancer, oral cancer, and others.

Neurological and Mental Health Risks

Binge drinkers can also cause neurological problems such as memory loss and difficulty with coordination and balance. Mental health problems such as depression and anxiety can also be caused or exacerbated by it.

Social and Financial Risks

In addition to the health risks such as heart disease, continued heavy drinking can also have social and financial consequences. Heavy drinkers may experience relationship problems, difficulty maintaining employment, and financial instability.

Excessive alcohol use can also increase the risk of accidents and injuries and can result in legal problems such as DUI charges if an individual has a high blood alcohol concentration when drinking.

Detox and Rehab For Alcohol Use Disorder at Rehab Centers

Detox and rehab programs at centers like Gloria Rehab Center are designed to assist individuals in overcoming alcohol dependence and attaining sustained sobriety. Beginning with medically supervised detoxification to manage withdrawal symptoms, especially for those who have engaged in long periods of heavy drinking, these programs offer personalized treatment plans tailored to each individual’s needs.

Whether through inpatient or outpatient programs, individuals receive counseling, therapy, and group support to develop coping mechanisms, establish a support network, and create a relapse prevention strategy. Ultimately, with the appropriate treatment and support, individuals can embark on a journey toward lasting recovery and enhance their overall quality of life.

If you or a loved one is struggling with heavy drinking, send us a message via our confidential online form or give us a call at (818) 659-9444 to discuss treatment options.