Alcohol is one of the most common misused substances because it is legal and readily available. Many people like to have a drink after work to relax. However, this can be habit forming and lead to heavy drinking. Heavy drinking often appears long before alcoholism. If you’re concerned about yourself or someone else who may be consuming too much alcohol, then it is important to recognize the signs of heavy drinking.
Signs of Heavy Drinking
There is a sharp contrast between heavy drinking and enjoying alcoholic beverages on a regular basis. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that over 85 percent of people 18 or older had consumed alcohol during their lifetime. Because alcohol is an addictive substance, it is important to know the difference between moderate consumption and heavy drinking. Adult women should consume no more than one alcoholic beverage a day and men should consume no more than two drinks per day. When consumption goes beyond that, it can lead to heavy drinking. Some signs of heavy drinking include:
- Spending large sums of money and time on alcohol
- Hiding alcohol and becoming defensive when questioned about alcohol consumption
- Needing a drink to relax
- Behavioral changes, such as aggression, after drinking
- Poor job performance
- Poor self-care
- Being untruthful regarding alcohol related problems
- Inability to stop drinking
Heavy Drinking Versus Binge Drinking
Heavy drinking and binge drinking are not the same. Binge drinking happens when you consume a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time. Binge drinkers consume a large amount of alcohol and often will be able to stay under the limit that defines heavy drinking for the week. A binge drinker can often go several days or even months without drinking again. However, adverse effects can result from binge drinking such as alcohol poisoning or an alcohol-related crash.
Heavy drinking is when someone consumes more than the recommended amount of alcohol per week which would be seven for women and 14 for men. Heavy drinking often leads to alcoholism and will have negative health effects. If you or a loved one is at risk for heavy drinking, then you should know the dangers associated with heavy drinking.
Why Heavy Drinking is Dangerous
Consuming alcohol in moderate amounts is okay. It’s when one starts to go beyond that amount that heavy drinking becomes dangerous. Even having a couple extra drinks per week can be harmful to the body. The liver has to work extra hard to flush excess toxins from the alcohol. Continual drinking such as this causes stress damage to accumulate. Prolonged heavy drinking can lead to:
- Liver damage
- High cholesterol
- Impaired heart function
- Throat cancer
- Sleep apnea
Heavy drinking leads to a high tolerance to alcohol. This can lead to a DUI if the blood alcohol level rises above legal limits without showing any behavioral changes. Heavy drinking also impairs judgment leading to bad decisions that can have negative health and social consequences.
Help is Available
The National Institute on Drug Abuse states alcohol use disorder is the most common type of substance use disorder in the United States. If you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol-related problems, help is available. The caring professionals at Hickory Treatment Centers are here to help. Call us today.