Many individuals are not aware that they are drinking alcohol (or using drugs) excessively and awareness often comes slowly. It is difficult to admit that drinking is affecting your life negatively and it can be hard to recognize the consequences. Here are just a few of the many possible consequences from excessive alcohol use:
- Physical problems: you might see increased fatigue, shakiness, upset stomachs or headaches, or diagnosed alcohol related illnesses such as cirrhosis or heart problems
- Emotional Problems such as depression, irritability, or anxiety
- Behavioral Problems such as neglecting important areas in your life such as work, family, or other relationships, or using alcohol in situations where it is physically dangerous
So let’s define a drink. A drink is identified based on the amount of alcohol. 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor are considered to be the same for the purposes of this discussion. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “at-risk” or “heavy” drinking would be if an individual is drinking more than 4 drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks per week for men, or more than 3 drinks on any day or more than 7 drinks per week for women.
So what does “normal” drinking look like? Drinking in moderation would mean that a man would have no more than two drinks per day and a woman would have no more than one drink per day. Individuals who drink normally always remember what happened when they drank, they don’t feel ashamed of what they did while they were drinking, and they don’t feel guilty about how much they drank. Normal drinkers do not experience headaches or stomach aches from drinking, nor have they ever avoided a situation because they didn’t feel well from drinking the night before. Finally, normal drinkers do not gulp their drinks, drive after drinking, or drink alcohol while taking medications.
So where is your drinking? Do you think that you might have a problem with alcohol (or drugs)? If so, don’t hesitate to get some help. Taking the first step is the hardest. Find a local therapist or treatment facility that specializes in alcohol and drug use and abuse or find some national resources to help you HERE.