In a recent survey, just over a quarter of American adults reported binge drinking in the past month. Alcohol is one of the main social tools in America, so it’s easy to find yourself relying on it without realising. If you’re concerned about your drinking habits, it’s wise to consider cutting back. But how do you know if you are drinking too much?
First, examine your drinking habits. How often and how much do you currently drink? Most experts suggest having a few alcohol-free days a week, rather than having a glass of wine with dinner every night. However, if you’re having those alcohol free days, but then drinking to excess at weekends, that’s just as much of a problem. If you regularly drink more than 14 units a week, you could have a problem.
Think about the reasons you drink. Everybody enjoys a few beers with friends, or a glass of wine to unwind in the evening, but if you find yourself turning to alcohol frequently to relieve stress or sadness, or to boost your confidence, it’s wise to examine your relationship with drink. It’s far healthier to find other ways to deal with negative emotions, rather than getting drunk.
Have you found that you are drinking more than before? If you drink regularly, you’ll likely find that your tolerance for alcohol has got higher, so you’ll need to drink more before you feel the effects. Don’t assume this means you can drink more though; your health is still being damaged even if you don’t feel drunk.
Take a hard look at your drinking habits and see if you could be alcohol dependent. Being dependent on alcohol doesn’t just mean not being able to get out of bed with a drink, as some people imagine. If you can’t imagine going for a night out without having a few drinks, you’re dependent on alcohol.
Binge drinking is a problematic but unfortunately common behaviour in young people. Binge drinking is defined as deliberately drinking to get drunk, or drinking a lot of alcohol in a short space of time. If this is something you do, either to boost confidence or just as a regular part of your socialising, you should consider taking steps to drink less.
Drinking to excess is a big risk. Your inhibitions are lowered, so you may find that your judgement is impaired and you make choices that you regret in the morning. Alcohol abuse also puts at higher risk of cancer, stroke, heart disease, liver disease, and damage to the nervous system. Alcohol can also contribute to weight gain, higher stress levels and poor sleep.
If your alcohol use is leading to other issues, like substance abuse, you should seek professional help, like a residential treatment program. There are lots of resources available, from counselling to online guides, to cut back on alcohol abuse and related issues. Take control, and improve your health and your life. Set yourself the challenge of cutting back on drinking, or cutting it out entirely.