Drinking in moderation is something we all hear about often, but where is the line between being social and having a problem?
Alcohol effects every organ in the body and is rapidly absorbed by the stomach and small intestine. The body processes the alcohol through the liver, where it is broken down and eventually eliminated from the body. The liver can only work so fast when breaking down alcohol levels and if you are drinking faster than the liver is working intoxication occurs.
Drinking in moderation is described by the CDC as “limiting intake to 2 drinks or less in a day for men and 1 drink or less in a day for women.” (https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm)
Excessive alcohol use includes:
- binge drinking
- heavy drinking
- any alcohol use by people under 21 years old
- any alcohol use by pregnant women
Binge drinking means that someone has had so much alcohol that the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is at 0.08% or more. The BAC is a test used to measure how much alcohol has not been broken down by the liver yet.
5 or more drinks at a time (usually within 2 hours)
15 or more drinks per week
2 or more drinks at a time (usually within 2 hours)
8 or more drinks per week
For further information on alcohol use and your health see https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/pdfs/alcoholyourhealth.pdf
Think you might be at risk or already have an alcohol use problem? Take this free quiz to check your drinking habits: https://auditscreen.org/check-your-drinking/
Think it is time to stop drinking? This choice needs to be made by you. It can be a hard decision to make. Speak with your doctor to get support and make a safe plan for quitting. Information to help you decide if quitting is right for you and what the first steps are can be found at: https://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/Thinking-about-a-change/.
Writing down a plan of how you will stop can help you stick to that plan better. Put it in a place you will look every day and see it to remind you of your goals and why this is important to you. Find a free quit plan to use at https://www5.healthwise.net/healthpartners/includes.axd?mediaKeyId=form_tj2794.pdf
Information and resources for family and friends of alcoholics are also available free and locally through https://www.minnesotanorth-al-anon.org/districts/district-9/