A 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 25.8% of adults aged 18 and older reported they binge drank in the past month. Another study published in JAMA Psychiatry estimated that one in eight Americans is an alcoholic. So, how does someone know when they cross the line from being an occasional drinker to having a drinking problem? There are various factors to consider, but one of the most important is how much alcohol you are consuming a day.
What is an Alcoholic?
Alcoholism is now known referred to as alcohol use disorder (AUD). An alcoholic – or a person with AUD – cannot control their needs or desires to drink. The individual continues to drink despite the apparent negative impact on their lives – both on their relationships and health.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 states that “moderate and responsible” drinking levels include two drinks or less per day for men and one drink or less per day for women.
Binge drinking is defined as having five or more alcoholic drinks within a few hours for men, or four or more for women. Additionally, the NIAAA states that binge drinking occurs when an individual drinks enough alcohol to bring their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 percent or higher. For the average adult, this correlates to five drinks or more for men and four drinks or more for women in a two-hour window.
“Heavy drinking” is defined by the NIAAA as four drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks per week for men. And three drinks on any day or more and seven drinks per week. It’s important to note that heavy drinking isn’t just how much you drink in a day but the accumulation of your total drinks throughout the week. For example, a woman could have an alcoholic beverage every night and be within the daily quantity to not be considered binge drinking. However, if she has one drink every night of the week, she would actually be considered engaging in “heavy drinking” because her weekly total is seven.
The SAMHSA defines heavy drinking slightly differently than the NIAAA. According to SAMHSA, stating that five days of binge drinking or more per month qualifies as “heavy drinking.”
When You Should Be Concerned
It can be hard to keep all these numbers in your head, but if you’re concerned about your level of drinking, it’s best to try to stop. You might need professional help for your drinking if:
- You find you need to have a drink every single day
- You’re blacking out from drinking frequently
- Your relationships or work is starting to suffer due to your drinking
- You experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking
Alcohol use disorder is a lot more common than people realize. Because alcohol is so readily accessible and present in many of our day-to-day social activities, it can be harder to spot when you have a problem. There is no shame in seeking professional help to stop drinking – it might just save your life.
Altignis Health is one of the top treatment facilities in Orange County. We help patients on the road to recovery from many types of disorders, including alcohol use disorder. Altignis Health offers outpatient programs, so you can get the help you need without interrupting your daily routine. Contact us today to find out more.