There are many extremes in the world of alcohol consumption, and it’s hard to know what level of drinking is right for you. But once you understand a few basic principles, consuming in moderation becomes easier than ever!
In this article we’ll discuss:
•Alcohol abuse vs. healthy consumption,
•What moderate drinking really means, and
•How to find your personal balance.
We hope that by the end of this article your questions will be answered, and your uncertainty about how much is too much will disappear. Before diving into the answers, however, let’s take a quick look at what alcohol consumption means for you.
The main thing to keep in mind is that anyone who consumes alcohol needs to have a healthy relationship with it. It’s important to understand that drinking too much can be dangerous and destroy your health. At the same time, you don’t have to eliminate alcohol from your life in order to be happy and healthy.
Establishing a Healthy Relationship with Alcohol
Alcohol abuse can cause many physical and mental side effects, but there are no physical or mental symptoms of consuming too much.
And if there were, they’d be different for each person because our bodies are all different. For example, some people become anxious after drinking too much alcohol, while others become aggressive.
The only way to know if you need to cut back on your alcohol consumption is with a personal examination of your life and an understanding of how alcohol affects you.
“If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.” —H. Jackson Brown Jr.
Before we start talking about how much is too much, we’d like to recommend a bit of caution in how you talk about and think about alcohol.
Alcohol is an integral part of many people’s lives, including doctors, teachers, and ordinary workers. It’s important not to put alcohol on a pedestal because it can start seeming like some uncontrollable, mystical substance that can work miracles or destroy lives.
While we certainly shouldn’t be ashamed of enjoying a drink every now and then, it’s also important to understand that alcohol — no matter how innocent it may seem — is not for everyone.
If you’re concerned about yourself or someone close to you, seek professional help from a doctor, psychologist, or qualified counselor.
Acceptable Amount of Alcohol Consumption
The following is what we consider to be an acceptable dose of alcohol:
•1 drink (or 9 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine and 1.5 ounces of liquor) per day for women;
•1 and a half drinks (or 12 ounces of beer, 8 ounces and wine and 2 ounces of liquor) per day for men.
Moderation is the keyword here — just because we’re saying something is acceptable doesn’t mean that it’s good. That’s why it’s important to understand the difference between what is considered healthy and what isn’t.
Alcohol Abuse vs. Healthy Consumption
The average American drinks about half a gallon of alcohol a week, which is almost three times more than the recommended daily dose! The good news is that you don’t have to completely eliminate alcohol from your life in order to live a healthier one. But if you’re drinking more than twice the recommended amount, you’ve already crossed the line from healthy consumption into abuse. So, as long as you’re keeping your intake within the recommended range of just one drink per day for women and a little more than that for men, you can still enjoy alcohol and have an overall healthy lifestyle while doing so.
What is Moderate Drinking Really?
Moderate drinking is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as:
•A daily dose of one drink per day or 14 drinks per week;
•A 3-to-4-drink, or “moderately heavy,” BAC (breathalyzer results between 0.08% and 0.10% for women and 0.10% and 0.12% for men);
•And, a total of 7 drinks per week for men, or 3 drinks per day; and
•A total of 14 drinks per week for women, or 5 drinks a day.
As you can see, there are no hard rules here: the only thing that matters is moderation!
We often see very high levels of alcohol consumption where they shouldn’t be, which isn’t healthy at all. And we also often see extremely low levels of alcohol consumption where they should be.
So, while we don’t want to tell people what they should and shouldn’t do, we also don’t want to encourage them to completely cut out alcohol. The idea is not to burn out but rather to live your life in moderation — just like your doctor might tell you or your father might say.
Finding your Personal Balance
Now that we have a better understanding of what moderate drinking is, the only thing left for us to do is provide answers for some of the most common questions that you may have about how much alcohol consumption is acceptable.
We’ve broken them down into several categories:
•Health. There’s a lot of concern these days about whether alcohol consumption is healthy or not, and how it affects our bodies and minds. How should we approach the issue?
•Family. You might want to know if you can still be an authority figure in your household while consuming alcohol. Is that possible?
•Work. Many workplaces forbid risky behavior, which includes drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. How should you prepare yourself for that?
•Social Life. You might also want to know if there are any social events or gatherings where it’s no longer appropriate to drink any amount of alcohol at all, such as weddings and family funerals. What should you do?
There’s currently no scientific evidence that moderate consumption of alcohol improves your overall health and well-being, although many people claim that it does. The so-called “French paradox” is an example of this idea — the fact that French people enjoy wine and cheese while maintaining long lives with low rates of cancer and heart disease. However, there are many other factors to consider when it comes to deciding whether or not drinking is good for your health.
•Every individual has a different tolerance for alcohol, which is important because you have to understand how your body reacts to alcohol and what you can tolerate without getting sick. For example, some people get headaches when they overindulge in alcohol, while others do not. This means that you need to know how much alcohol you can tolerate before you start to show signs of intoxication. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) website has a great article that gives suggestions for how much alcohol you should drink based on your own tolerance levels.
There are many other things — like the amount of fat that you have in your blood and what levels of oxygen are in your blood — that can have an impact on whether or not drinking can be healthy for you.