It’s hard to answer that question without delving a little deeper. Nightly drinking can take quite a few different forms: A couple glasses of wine with dinner. Three beers on the back patio with your neighbor. A night out that starts with shots and ends at 3 a.m.
Drinking every night could mean anywhere from seven drinks a week to more than 50. A person’s drinking habits can depend on their lifestyle,
So will you become an alcoholic by having a drink or two each night?
The simple answer according to the Mayo Clinic is that the occasional beer with dinner or in the evening is not a health concern for most people. Dailing drinking is when your risk for health problems increase.
The real concern is how much you’re drinking and whether or not you’ve lost control.
What the Experts Say
If you don’t want to drink in a way that puts you at a higher risk for becoming an alcoholic, this is what the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism advises: For women, no more than three drinks on any single day and no more than seven drinks per week. For men, no more than four drinks on any single day and no more than 14 drinks per week.
A standard drink is defined as about 14 grams of pure alcohol, and medical advice generally recommends avoiding alcohol as much as possible.
So, what does it mean if you’re a man and you have 20 drinks a week? Per those guidelines, it would mean you are increasing your risk of becoming an alcoholic. You’re straying away from the category of “safe” drinker and towards “problem drinker.”
When You Should Worry about Your Drinking
You should think carefully about your drinking habits if you have a family history of alcohol abuse. It should also concern you if your first beer of the day is consumed in the blink of an eye. Such “beer-pounding” can be a sign of binge drinking.
Drinking during the week can also be problematic if it’s combined with hard partying over the weekend. Having 5drinks within a 2 hour period for men should not be complemented by a drink or two every night of the week.
What is Problem Drinking?
Problem drinking can be defined as using alcohol in a way that has a negative effect on yourself and those around you. All of the following are signs of problem drinking:
- Often drinking alone
- Feeling guilty after drinking
- An inability to stop drinking once you’ve started
- Preferring drinking friends over non-drinking friends
- Drinking to alleviate anxiety or stress
- Financial or employment difficulties because of alcohol
- Experiencing blackouts
- Taking risks with your life or the lives of others
You might be consuming 20 drinks a week, while not experiencing any of the above symptoms of problem drinking. There’s still the question of your health. While there’s a lot of debate over the merits of or drinking for health reasons (like drinking wine for the antioxidants), it’s pretty much agreed that heavy alcohol use or binge drinking isn’t good for you, even if you never cross the line into problem drinking.
With that said, few of us live a perfectly healthy lifestyle. Some people smoke. Others are overweight. It’s obviously your choice how you live your life, as long as you’re aware of the potential risks you’re taking.
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How to Stop Drinking Alcohol Every Night
If you want to stop drinking every night, then that’s enough of a reason to make a change—no matter how much you’re drinking. Having at least one day a week where you don’t drink at all can be a great way to give your body a rest and make sure you’re still in control. It can also give you an idea of how dependent on alcohol your body is.
The question is, what’s the best way to stop drinking every night? The first thing you’ll want to do is to set a goal—maybe not to drink on Mondays and Tuesdays. If the urge to start drinking hits on those days, there are a few different strategies you can use:
- Remind yourself of why you’re doing this. You want to make sure you don’t lose control of your drinking. You also want to be healthier.
- Plan distractions. Maybe Monday is the night you play tennis or start a new book each week. Avoid triggers, such as going out to dinner with friends who you know drink.
- Acknowledge the urge and “ride it out,” knowing that it will soon crest like a wave and pass.
If you continuously set realistic drinking goals and fail to stick with them, it’s time to reexamine the amount of alcohol you’re drinking and possibly get help. If you are not able to control or limit your drinking, that is a classic sign of not just problem drinking, but alcoholism, which can have deadly long term effects.
Having a drink every night isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But, at any level of drinking, be it moderate drinking or heavy alcohol dependence, it’s a smart move to know the risks and stay in control.
Help for Alcohol Addiction at The Raleigh House
The Raleigh House is a residential treatment center located in Denver that believes addiction is a disease that needs to be treated. Our master’s level trained therapists get to the root cause of addiction and help you develop a strategy to manage and enjoy life without alcohol.