Drinking Too Much? Drinking Levels Defined

Drinking Too Much? Drinking Levels Defined
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Are You Drinking Too Much? Here’s a Brief Description of Drinking Levels Defined:

Enjoying a cocktail with dinner or sharing in a celebratory toast at a holiday event or family gathering isn’t likely to pose a great risk to your health. However, the decline to occasional binge drinking may lead you to question if you’re drinking too much? It’s important to recognize that alcohol affects people differently. And a consumption level maintained by someone else, like a partner or friend, isn’t necessarily what’s appropriate for you.

As we step through the different phases of drinking, it’s important to rely on self-reflection to determine whether your drinking level is crossing the line from social to problematic, or even dependent. Alcohol can affect your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. So, being cautiously aware of your habits will help you maintain the healthiest version of yourself.

Alcohol Consumption Recommendations

Let’s first define what constitutes an alcoholic drink. A standard drink in America typically contains about 14 grams of alcohol. The number of drinks you can have to stay within recommended dietary guidelines will depend on the beverage.

For example, the following amounts for each beverage contain the same concentration of alcohol:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 5 ounces of spirit

While these are standard-sized drinks, you should be aware that some beverages contain a higher concentration of alcohol in the same size drink, like particular beers and spirits. The different levels of alcohol consumption can help you identify where you may fall within the spectrum and whether your drinking is too much.

What is Moderate Alcohol Consumption?

A moderate level of drinking, as defined by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men1. What’s crucial about drinking within this recommended amount is that research shows individuals who follow these guidelines are much less likely to develop alcohol use disorder. In fact, only an estimated two percent of individuals who drink at this level or less develop a dependency on alcohol.

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Drinking Levels Defined - are you drinking too much?Signs That You’re Drinking Too Much

For those who fall outside the realm of moderate drinking, there are defined parameters that can help you or a loved one define when drinking has entered a problematic phase. Use the following levels of measurement to determine where your behavior currently lies and what changes need to take place to refocus on your health and long-term sobriety.

Binge drinking

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 percent – or 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter – or higher. 2 Consider the number of alcoholic drinks you’ve consumed over the past couple of weeks. Binge drinking typically consists of five or more beverages for males and four or more beverages for females within the same time frame. This time frame is typically two to three hours, at least one day of the past month. 3

Heavy drinking

Heavy drinking is defined as having multiple binge drinking days in one month. Meaning, if you or a loved one consumes four or five alcoholic beverages, depending on gender, within a two-hour time frame on more than one day a week, you’ve entered the stage of heavy drinking. 4

Alcoholism AKA Alcohol Use Disorder

If you’re questioning whether your drinking is too much or if you’re bordering alcoholism, begin to consider any changes in lifestyle you’ve made to accommodate your drinking desire. The list below exemplifies habits that may represent alcoholism:

  • Avoiding time with family and friends for fear of their concern over your drinking
  • Breaking plans or commitments in order to drink
  • Continuing to drink despite obvious health challenges caused by alcohol
  • Discontinuing regular activities and hobbies to drink
  • Ignoring financial challenges caused by drinking
  • Leaving or getting fired from a job because of the effects of excessive drinking

Alcohol consumption on a daily basis, especially in moments of stress, is a warning sign that alcoholism may be present. The experienced drug and alcohol experts at Clear Life Recovery can create a personalized plan for you to begin a life of sobriety. If you or a loved one is a victim of alcohol use disorder, explore treatment options at our Costa Mesa alcohol treatment center.

Alcohol dependence

A dependence on alcohol refers to those individuals who physically find it difficult to function without consuming alcohol consistently throughout the day. Without alcohol, an individual may experience shaking, sweating, feeling of sickness, the inability to think clearly, and other physical effects.

Severe alcohol use disorder (AUD) occurs when a strong dependence on alcohol is present.5 According to the American Psychiatric Association, dependence on alcohol occurs when an individual exhibits six or more symptoms of AUD, including:

  • Drinking more or longer than intended
  • Inability to stop drinking even when you want to
  • A considerable amount of time spent recovery from the effects of alcohol
  • Can only think of drinking
  • Drinking or recovering from drinking interferes with work or school
  • Continue to drink despite relationship challenges because of the drinking
  • Must drink much more than once did to achieve the same effect

It’s important to evaluate where on the scale of alcohol consumption your drinking falls. This allows you to consider the options available for support and recovery.

Contact an Alcohol Treatment Program in Costa Mesa To Stop Drinking Too Much and Begin Recovery

For personalized alcohol treatment in California, Clear Life Recovery is a top-rated option. Our facility is designed to give you options for customized treatment that prepares you for a life of long-term sobriety. If you are wondering if you’re drinking too much, it’s time to get some help. If you or a loved one would like more information about alcohol use disorder and treatment options, please contact our knowledgeable staff today.



[1] https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/moderate-binge-drinking

[2] https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/binge-drinking

[3] https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/moderate-binge-drinking

[4] https://arcr.niaaa.nih.gov/binge-drinking-predictors-patterns-and-consequences/drinking-patterns-and-their-definitions

[5] https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/are-you-drinking-too-much-alcohol