Drinking alcoholic beverages is often seen as a way to relax, socialize or celebrate, but drinking too much or drinking as a way of dealing with feelings of anxiety or depression has negative consequences.
How much is “a drink”?
The amount of liquid that is considered “a drink” depends on the type of alcohol being consumed. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines the following as one standard drink1: It is advised that men consume no more than 4 drinks in a single day and no more than 14 drinks total in a week. Because women’s bodies process alcohol differently, they should consume no more than 3 drinks in a single day or 7 drinks total in a week.2 These are only rough guidelines. Pregnant women, people under the age of 21 or people with health conditions or medications that interact with alcohol should not drink
Alcohol has many widely known short and long term effects. In the short term, after changes in mood and decreased inhibition have passed, one may experience a hangover. Hangovers often include feelings of dehydration, a sense of mental fogginess, headache and nausea. In the long term, heavy alcohol use can lead to serious organ damage and memory problems. Here are some other effects of alcohol that you may not be as familiar with:While alcohol may cause some people to be able to fall asleep more quickly, it decreases the quality of sleep by interfering with REM.3 REM (rapid eye movement) is a part of the sleep cycle when dreams occur and is thought to be the most restorative stage of sleep. If REM sleep is disrupted you may feel tired and unable to concentrate the next day. Alcohol alters serotonin levels in the brain4. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, or chemical, used by the brain to regulate mood, and imbalances in serotonin are thought to cause mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Types of Problem Drinking:
Heavy Drinking: When someone consumes more than the daily or weekly guideline amounts for alcohol.
Alcoholism: Also known as alcohol dependence, is a disorder characterized by an uncontrollable urge to drink, inability to stop drinking once started, need to drink more and more to feel the effects (tolerance), and withdrawal symptoms if one does not consume alcohol. Withdrawal symptoms can include anxiety, sweating, nausea or shakiness.
Are You Abusing Alcohol?
Has your drinking ever caused you to miss work or other appointments?
Do you use alcohol to escape problems when you are upset
Do you always end up drunk, once you start drinking
Do you sometimes have trouble remembering what you did while under the influence of alcohol?
Do you regret doing some of the things you’ve done under the influence
Have friends or family members tried to express their concern about your drinking
Has your work suffered because of your drinking