Alcohol is a social drug. Accepted as it is in regular doses, it can be difficult to discern when drinking has become a negative habit and a problematic pattern.
Alcohol is a social drug, nearly as acceptable as coffee, especially when consumed later on in the day. Drinking alcohol is not stigmatized like much other drug use and is often encouraged. People are nearly required to drink with co-workers, friends and other social contacts in order to maintain community cohesion and connections. The dark side of accepted alcohol consumption is that it becomes very difficult to judge when one is drinking too much, even if this consumption doesn’t lead to regular hangovers, blackouts or negative behaviors.
How Much Alcohol Consumption is Okay?
Everyone processes alcohol differently. Fat doesn’t absorb alcohol thus women need to drink less than men to get drunk or to have alcohol problems. Young people who aren’t fully grown need to drink less than older individuals to become inebriated or see health issues occur. How alcohol affects one depends on height, weight, age, race, gender and personal disposition or genetic history.
As a general rule, women shouldn’t drink more than two units (equivalent to two glasses of wine, beer or spirits daily) and men shouldn’t drink more than three to four. Ideally, several days a week should remain alcohol-free for maximum health benefits.
What are the Signs that Alcohol Consumption Might be Out of Control?
When people think about alcoholism, they often picture a raging individual with temper problems, sexual issues or other social disorders, someone unable to manage his own existence. In fact, the great majority of people with a drinking problem are functional and capable of concealing their own tendencies.
Drinking alcohol can quickly become a pattern and a habit. This is the first sign. If an individual is dependent or reliant on having regular drinks, with dinner, after work or in social situations, then alcohol is beginning to rule his or her life. Routine drinking habits easily lead to excessive drinking patterns, sometimes involving secretive or day-long consumption.
Over time, drinking on a daily basis, even if not in excessive amounts, establishes a bodily dependency, leading one to be less capable of determining when one has drunk too much. Feeling one needs a drink before public events, intimate experiences or other challenging situations will inevitably lead to long term overconsumption.
What are the Consequences of Regular Alcohol Consumption?
Even if one doesn’t excessively binge drink, drink all day or drink in secret, regular alcohol consumption still has consequences. Alcohol is very hard on the liver, as well as the brain and other body parts. It takes a long time for the body to process. Side effects can include sleep disruption or deprivation, depression, weight gain, anxiety, poor memory and other negative results.
Keep a drinking diary if concerned about the effects of daily consumption or of alcohol becoming a habit in one’s life. Seeing the pattern and knowing its consequences can be the primary step in changing one’s harmful consumption of alcohol.