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What Is Considered Heavy Drinking?

Image symbolizing the definition of heavy drinking

Heavy drinking isn’t good for your physical or mental health. But what constitutes heavy drinking? At what point should you begin to worry that you may be drinking too much? Learn more about heavy drinking, its side effects, and what will happen if you drink too much. Alcohol addiction treatment can help if you or a loved one are struggling to stop drinking.

Defining Heavy Drinking

Developing a specific definition for heavy drinking is difficult, as recommendations vary. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “heavy drinking” is defined as engaging in binge drinking on at least five days in the past month. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as any pattern of alcohol consumption that brings blood alcohol levels to 0.08 g/dl.

SAMHSA, on the other hand, defines binge drinking as drinking four or more drinks on one occasion for females and five or more drinks on one occasion for males. Although these definitions seem different, they are actually quite similar. For most people, blood alcohol concentrations will reach 0.08 after four or five alcoholic drinks, depending on sex.

The NIAAA also defines moderate or low-risk drinking. For women, low-risk drinking is no more than three drinks in one day and no more than seven drinks per week. For men, low-risk drinking is no more than four drinks in one day and no more than 14 drinks in one week. However, guidelines from the USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services define moderate drinking as no more than one or two drinks per day.

Side Effects of Heavy Drinking

Drinking heavily can bring about a host of unwanted consequences for both men and women. While intoxicated, you may experience:

  • Memory impairment – You may forget where you are or what you did while you were drinking.
  • Loss of coordination – Alcohol can affect your ability to coordinate your movements. You may stumble, fall, or hurt yourself while drinking.
  • Slurred speech – Alcohol can make it difficult to speak clearly.
  • Vision problems – Alcohol can cause blurred or double vision.
  • Poor judgment – Alcohol can impair your judgment, leading you to make risky decisions.
  • Aggressive or violent behavior – Alcohol can make you more likely to become aggressive or violent.
  • Alcohol poisoning – Drinking too much alcohol can lead to alcohol poisoning, a potentially life-threatening condition.

These side effects can be dangerous, especially when combined with one another. For example, because of your impaired judgment, you may be more likely to engage in risky behaviors. You may also be more likely to drive when you know you probably shouldn’t. Unfortunately, slower reflexes and poor coordination dramatically increase your chances of being involved in a car accident.

Long-Term Consequences Of Heavy Drinking

Drinking heavily on a regular basis can also lead to long-term consequences that affect both your physical and mental health. Long-term physical effects of heavy drinking include:

  • Alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Anemia
  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Higher risk of cancer
  • Nerve damage
  • Brain damage
  • Increased risk of dementia

In addition to these physical effects, long-term alcohol use can lead to addiction. When you become addicted to alcohol, nearly every aspect of your life will suffer as a result, from your physical health to your interpersonal relationships. Alcohol use can also lead to depression and other mental health concerns.

Heavy Drinking and Alcohol Addiction

Determining exactly how many drinks a week makes someone an alcoholic is difficult. As discussed above, drinking more than a specific number of drinks per week can be defined as “heavy drinking.” However, heavy drinking and alcoholism are not the same things. Alcohol addiction is a substance use disorder that requires professional treatment, but some people who engage in heavy drinking may not actually have an addiction. Nonetheless, it’s important to note that periods of heavy drinking increase your risk of developing an alcohol use disorder.

If you’re struggling with heavy drinking, it’s important to reach out for help. There are many treatment options available, and the sooner you get help, the better. With treatment, you can overcome your drinking problem and get back to living a healthy, happy life.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Woodland Recovery Center

If you believe you may be an alcoholic, or if you’re drinking more than the recommended amount and are concerned that you may be on the path to addiction, you need prompt alcohol treatment. One of the best places to receive such treatment is at Woodland Recovery, where we offer a comprehensive and individualized approach to addressing alcohol addiction.

At Woodland Recovery, we understand that each person’s journey with alcohol addiction is unique. That’s why our treatment plans are tailored to meet the specific needs and goals of each individual. We believe that a one-size-fits-all approach is not effective in treating alcohol addiction, and we strive to create personalized treatment plans for each of our clients.

The sooner you seek treatment, the sooner you can deal with this issue and regain control of your life. Call Woodland Recovery at 662.222.2989 or use our online contact form today to learn more about how we treat alcohol use disorder.