Am I Drinking Too Much?

April 21, 2017 / Michael M. Siegel, MD

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Did you know? According to the National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependencies, Inc. (NCADD), alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the U.S. In fact, an estimated 17.6 million people, or one in every 12 adults, suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence. And, the NCADD reports that several million more engage in unsafe drinking patterns such as binge drinking. Given these startling statistics, it’s likely that you know – or know of – someone that has been affected by from the negative, dangerous effects of drinking too much alcohol.

Just how dangerous is drinking? The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism details how drinking too much alcohol can negatively impact your health. These include:

  • Weakened immune system – Alcohol weakens your immune system and can make you more susceptible to diseases such as tuberculosis and pneumonia
  • Risk of injury – Drinking alcohol impairs your judgment, coordination, reflexes and motor functions, all of which make you more prone to injuring yourself or others
  • Liver damage – Drinking can cause numerous problems with your liver including, cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis and fatty liver
  • Cancer – Drinking too much can increase your risk for a number of cancers including those of the mouth, esophagus, throat, liver and breast
  • Heart issues – Drinking too much, either over time or on a single occasion, can cause high blood pressure, stroke, and irregular heart beat among other issues
  • Emotional instability – Too much alcohol can do a number on your emotional stability and even cause delusions, night terrors, aggression and depression

 

But how do you know if you’re drinking too much? There are clues that may indicate that your drinking habits are unhealthy, such as making poor or risky choices while you drink, needing to drink to relax, binge drinking (drinking more than 4 drinks in less than 2 hours if you are a woman or 5 drinks for men), forgetting what you did while drinking, or when drinking affects your mood or responsibilities.

Fortunately, there are ways to prevent alcohol misuse or abuse and avoid the dangers of drinking. The NCADD offers the following strategies to cut back or stop drinking:

  • Don’t drink when you are upset
  • Drink alcohol in moderation – limit your drinking to no more than 1 drink a day for women or 2 drinks a day for men
  • Choose one day each week to not drink
  • Track how much you drink so you know when you’ve reached your limit
  • Avoid places or events where people drink a lot
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you keep at home
  • Make a list of reasons not to drink and keep it with you. Look at it when you feel the urge to drink

 

For more tips and resources, and to learn more about alcohol abuse, visit NCADD.org.

Sources:

https://healthfinder.gov/nho/AprilToolkit.aspx
https://www.ncadd.org/about-addiction
https://www.ncadd.org/about-addiction/alcohol/facts-about-alcohol
https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/alcohols-effects-body
http://www.quitalcohol.com/the-truth-about-what-alcohol-does-to-your-body.html
https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/moderate-binge-drinking