You started out having an occasional glass of wine with dinner. Then you
added in a few drinks while out with friends each week. All of a sudden,
you feel like you’re drinking entirely too much.
But how much is
too much? That’s a tricky question, since appropriate alcohol intake varies
largely from person to person, dependent on age, gender, size, and family
history, among other factors.
However, there are general guidelines for how much a person should drink.
Health organizations recommend only moderate drinking, which is defined
by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as no more than one
drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men.
Keep An Eye on Serving Size
You can’t judge your alcohol consumption solely by the number of
alcoholic beverages you’re drinking a day. That’s because
one drink often contains multiple servings.
Serving size depends on the type of alcohol. A serving size of alcohol
equals 12 ounces of regular beer, 8 ounces of malt liquor, 5 ounces of
wine, and 1.5 ounces of either distilled spirits like tequila or liquor
like vodka or whiskey.
When Moderate Drinking Becomes Heavy Drinking
There’s a fine line between moderate alcohol consumption and heavy
consumption, which can cause liver inflammation and scarring, increase
blood pressure levels, and damage the heart muscles.
For men, drinking 15 or more alcoholic beverages in one week is considered
heavy drinking, while for women, more than seven is considered heavy consumption.
When Heavy Drinking Becomes Alcohol Abuse
Regular heavy drinking is even more dangerous, impacting a person’s
health, relationships and even work.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol abuse
can lead to:
- An inability to fulfill responsibilities at work or at home
- Legal problems related to alcohol
- Drinking in dangerous situations, such as while driving
Long-term alcohol abuse can turn into alcohol dependency.
Where to Turn for Help
If you or a loved one are drinking too much, talk with your primary care
physician. He or she will be able to offer suggestions or resources to
help you either moderate your drinking or stop entirely, if you’ve
developed alcohol abuse or dependency.
If you’re interested in finding a treatment program, call the National
Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing System at 1-800-662-HELP.
This service will connect you with information about treatment programs
in New Castle County and surrounding areas.
Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are also available in New Castle County. This group provides
support and assistance for those struggling with alcohol.
At your next checkup, be honest with your physician about your drinking
habits. Don’t have a primary care physician? Find one here.