There seems to be a fine line between moderation of alcohol and alcohol abuse. One side says that alcohol can cause cancer, liver damage, and death. The other side says that a little bit of alcohol can increase heart health. To understand which side is better, one has to look deeper into precisely what constitutes alcohol abuse versus moderation.
Alcohol abuse is defined as seven drinks a week for women and 14 drinks a week for men. When alcohol is starting to affect relationships and work ethic, that is also a sign of abuse. One way to tell if someone is abusing alcohol is to look for symptoms of alcohol abuse like:
- Cannot stop drinking once started
- Cannot go without alcohol for more than three days
- Feel guilty after drinking
- Annoyed by others criticism of drinking
- Hides alcohol
- Drinking interferes with relationships
- Shaky hands
- Drink in the morning
If these adverse effects are not enough to sway from drinking too much, there are also the long-term adverse effects like cirrhosis of the liver. The liver is what filters fluids in the body and alcohol is technically a toxin, so the higher amount of pure alcohol that enters the body, the more strain the liver endures. Eventually, the liver gets worn down, cirrhosis develops, and that strain can lead to brain cell death. This is for extreme cases, however, which means years and years of heavy alcohol use, and heavy alcohol use constitutes about 14 drinks every week. One or two blackouts from drinking in a year are not likely to lead directly to cirrhosis right off the bat.
On the moderate side of alcohol, moderate drinking constitutes one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. Possible health benefits of drinking alcohol include a reduced risk of heart disease, decreased risk of ischemic stroke, and less risk of developing diabetes. However, doctors do not advise people to start drinking moderately for these health benefits because the benefits do not outweigh the overall costs of drinking. Addiction could develop if one is in a family with a history of alcohol addiction, so in some situations, it is better not to start drinking alcohol at all.
Guide for Drinking Moderately:
- Beer: 12 fl oz.
- Wine: 5 fl oz.
- Distilled spirits: 1.5 fl oz.
While alcohol may provide some benefits, the research is still unclear about whether moderate drinking of alcohol can improve an individual’s health. Alcohol use should be avoided at all costs when pregnant or driving. So, the results of this debate on alcohol abuse and moderation seem to be dependent on the individual.
If an individual wants to drink and has great self-control, then moderate drinking would not hurt and has the potential perk of health benefits. However, if an individual comes from a family that is prone to alcoholism and has no desire to drink, then there is no logical reason to start drinking on the off-chance that mild alcohol consumption leads to health benefits. Overall, as long as the use of alcohol does not turn into what defines alcohol abuse, there seems to be no problem with occasional drinking.
If someone does fall into alcohol abuse by mistake or is looking to stop consuming alcohol, but is struggling, then Asana Recovery can help. Their services offer support to those struggling with addiction, and they provide detox and residential treatment programs. Contact Asana Recovery at 949-438-4504 to learn more about their treatment programs.