Everyone’s response to alcohol is different. It often depends upon your body mass, gender, and hereditary characteristics. Moreover, what you had before you tossed back a drink and how much you slept the night before can significantly impact your body.
While over-indulging in alcohol might seem like a great idea at a night out with friends or your brother’s wedding, the hangover the next day will make you regret your actions! You must also set a limit for your alcohol intake to avoid health hazards like deteriorating mental health, heart and liver problems, various types of chronic cancers, and blood pressure problems.
However, the million-dollar question here is how much alcohol is considered too much. When do you cross the threshold of drinking frequently to it being problematic? Confused? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered.
Here are all the things you need to know about alcohol intake:
Alcohol Consumption Guidelines:
According to the Dietary Guidelines for America (2020-2025), adults 21 and above should either avoid drinking or limit their drinking to two drinks a day for men and one for women. The standard of alcohol intake in the US is as follows:
- 8 ounces of 7% ABV – e.g., malt liquor
- 12 ounces of 5% ABV – e.g., beer
- 1.5 ounces of 40% ABV – e.g., gin and whiskey
- 5 ounces of 12% ABV – e.g., wine
However, it isn’t as simple as this. Many American beer brands have higher alcohol content than 5% ABV. Hence, be sure to monitor your intake. Also, ensure you don’t have a week’s worth of ‘safe’ alcohol intake in a day. It will destroy your body.
If you have more than this ‘standard and safe’ quantity and you feel you have started becoming dependent on it, reach out to renowned behavioral groups like the Delphi Behavioral Health Group for a step-by-step process of rehabilitation so you can achieve sobriety.
Those under the legal age of drinking should follow these guidelines:
- Anyone under the legal drinking age shouldn’t have access to alcohol to avoid alcohol poisoning and underage drinking.
- Anyone who has liver problems must avoid them to avoid chronic health hazards.
- Anyone pregnant or trying for a baby should also avoid it to ensure health.
- Anyone taking any medication should avoid it as it can react with alcohol in the body.
- Anyone on the road to sobriety shouldn’t have access to it either because of a high probability of relapse.
How Long Does Alcohol Stay In Your System?
Alcohol retention in your body depends upon your biological sex, body mass (weight and height), medication, the way you drink, and even your menstrual cycle. Generally, alcohol is removed from your body at a rate of 3.3 millimoles per hour.
This is how long each of these alcoholic beverages stay in your system:
- Glass of Wine – Up to 3 hours
- Small shot of liquor – Up to 1 hour
- Pint of Beer – Up to 2 hours
Remember, it takes about 10 minutes for an alcoholic beverage to kick in, but it takes hours for your body to cleanse it out of your system and gives you a killer hangover the next day. Hence, try to avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
Difference Between Binge Drinking, Heavy Drinking, and Excessive Drinking:
Another critical aspect of understanding over-indulging in alcohol is developing a comprehension of binge drinking, heavy drinking, and excessive drinking.
- Binge Drinking:
The cumulative effect of consuming alcohol can harm you in the short and long run. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), when men consume five or more ‘standard drinks’ within four to five hours, they indulge in binge drinking. The same is true for women when they consume four or more standard drinks in this duration.
Most people who binge drink are at low risk for alcohol disorders. However, it can lead to multiple diseases and serious injuries. It can cause dehydration, headaches, alcohol poisoning, and loss of motor skills.
Furthermore, one in four US adults actively engage in binge drinking annually, i.e., 17 billion binge drinks are consumed yearly!
- Excessive Drinking:
Excessive drinking is very similar to binge drinking. The CDC classifies 90 percent of it under the domain of binge drinking. It also adds underage alcohol consumption and pregnant drinking to the list of excessive drinkers.
A lot of people refer to excessive drinking as a short-term coping mechanism, but it has the potential to lead to long-term problems and health complications.
- Heavy Drinking:
Heavy drinking refers to drinking over a more extended period than binge drinking and excessive drinking. Heavy drinking is measured by the weekly alcohol intake of a person.
According to the CDC, women who consume more than eight drinks per week engage in heavy drinking, while consuming more than 15 drinks a week can be classified as heavy drinking in men.
Consequences of Alcohol Consumption:
Before diving into the more severe health hazards of alcoholism, you must be clear on its short-term and long-term effects.
- Short-Term Effects:
When you drink excessive alcohol, you’ll initially observe inflammation in your esophagus, stomach, and intestines. Your digestive system will have difficulty accepting it. When this goes on for weeks, your liver will inflame and enlarge. It will also become sensitive and tender and will not work as efficiently as it should.
If you decide to stop drinking, even at this stage, all of these changes are reversible. You can go back to your old life, and it won’t have any long-term effects on you.
- Long-Term Effects:
You will suffer serious health complications if you continue to drink excessively after an enlarged liver and gastrointestinal inflammation. Cancer is one of the prevalent health problems you will most definitely have to face. According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, alcohol is a high-risk agent for cancer. Alcoholism can cause cancer in the mouth, tongue, liver, stomach, esophagus, breast, colon, and pharynx.
Alcoholism also leads to a decrease in the mental capacity of the drinker. It leads to poor concentration, headaches, lagging reflexes, and vomiting. Excessive alcohol will ultimately lead to dementia and often irreparable nerve damage.
It also causes long-term cardiovascular diseases and can cause dilated heart muscles. It also affects the heart’s pumping capacity and hence affects all the organs in the body. Long-term alcoholism ultimately leads to myocardial infarction (heart attack) and sometimes even heart failure.
Alcohol is never good for your health. Even if you are going for an occasional drink, try to limit your intake as much as possible. Try to choose different beverage options rather than picking something with high alcohol potency. Moreover, ensure that you avoid binge and heavy drinking like a plague. Avoid settings that push you to have more than the standard amount of alcohol.
It’s never too late to choose a healthier lifestyle; you just need to get the right help. The road to recovery might be difficult, but it leads to a beautiful destination!