By Account Associate Kailyn Middlemist
In the time of lockdowns and quarantines, it is easy to start drinking more. Many studies, like these from CareFirst, Sage Journals, and National Institutes of Health’s journal, suggest that drinking has been on the rise for the past year, up by 23%. And this is a problem. Overconsumption of alcohol can lead to some serious health risks, especially substance abuse or even addiction.
This is not to say that drinking itself is unhealthy, just that drinking too much is. According to the Mayo Clinic, having one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men is the healthiest alcohol consumption. The Mayo Clinic defines a good measure of healthy consumption as such:
- Beer: 12 fluid ounces (355 milliliters)
- Wine: 5 fluid ounces (148 milliliters)
- Distilled spirits (80 proof): 1.5 fluid ounces (44 milliliters)
There are still health benefits to healthy drinking, such as possibly reducing risk of heart disease, risk of diabetes, and risk of an ischemic stroke.
However, intense alcohol consumption increases risk of things like:
- Certain cancers, including breast cancer and cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus and liver
- Sudden death if you already have cardiovascular disease
- Heart muscle damage (alcoholic cardiomyopathy) leading to heart failure
- High blood pressure
- Liver disease
- Accidental serious injury or death
- Brain damage and other problems in an unborn child
- Alcohol withdrawal syndrome
Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks within two hours for women and five or more in two hours for men. Binging alcohol can lead to alcohol poisoning. Heavy drinking is defined as “more than three drinks on any day or more than seven drinks a week for women and for men older than age 65, and more than four drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks a week for men age 65 and younger.”
Drinking in celebration or to relax is totally fine; it is drinking in excess that is dangerous. Remember that your long-term health is worth skipping a beer or two each week. Follow the experts’ opinions and keep away from heavy drinking to avoid possible health risks.
If you are experiencing issues with your alcohol consumption, are curious about sobriety, or concerned for a friend or family member, there are resources available to you, including this list of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in the DMV area, this book on alcohol recovery, and SAMHSA’s hotline (1-800-662-HELP).