Alcohol can have a different effect on different people which makes it difficult to define how much is “too much”. There is also a broad spectrum of alcohol abuse so it’s not possible to put people into two categories like “moderate drinkers” and “alcoholics”. Even the definition of what a moderate drinker is can vary depending on who you ask. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men as being defined as moderate drinking.
What is considered a “standard drink” depends on the type of drink consumed because of varying levels of content. Here is the comparison chart of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism on one standard drink:
- 12 fluid ounce of regular beer (5 percent alcohol)
- 8-9 fluid ounce of malt liquor (7 percent alcohol)
- 5 fluid ounce of table wine (12 percent alcohol)
- 1.5 fluid ounce shot of distilled spirits (40 percent alcohol)
- Whiskey, vodka, tequila, rum, and gin
Defining Binge Drinking
The definition, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of binge drinking is that it’s a pattern of drinking where a person’s blood alcohol concentration, BAC is at 0.08 g/dl or more. For the typical female, this will occur at four or more drinks that are consumed in 2 hours while for males it’s five or more drinks. The CDC also finds that in a given month, one in six adults in the U.S. will binge drink an average of four times per month.
Binge drinking poses serious risks and health problems that could include:
- High blood pressure, stroke, liver disease and other chronic conditions
- Alcohol use disorders
- Car crashes, falls, alcohol poisoning and other unintentional injuries
- Memory and learning problems
There are also economic impacts to binge drinking that have a greater effect on society. These costs include health care expenses, criminal justice costs, and loss of productivity at work.
Dangers of Consuming Too Much Alcohol in One Night
A special event such as someone’s birthday, wedding or holiday may seem like a reason to have a few drinks. But drinking too much in one night can have a lot of negative consequences to our bodies. Here are a few things that can happen when you drink too much:
- Brain Damage – People who are under 25 are particularly vulnerable to this.
- Heart problems – Inhibits your heart from keeping a regular rhythm which can throw it off in one single occasion.
- Alcohol poisoning – This is an overdose that suppresses the body affecting the heart, the gag reflex and ability to breathe and can lead to coma or death.
- Hangover – One of the most common side effects, this causes nausea, headaches and dehydration.
Determining Factors on How Alcohol Affects the Body
Your sex and genetics have a lot to do with how your body is affected. This is because these factors determine the rate at which alcohol is metabolized by your body. Alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) are the main enzymes that are part of the process of metabolizing alcohol.
Women typically will metabolize slower than men because their ADH activity is lower than men. Body composition is also a factor in how alcohol affects a person. Women’s bodies tend to have less water and more fat than men so when they drink it could result in higher blood alcohol levels.
The Damage Repeated Alcohol Abuse Does to Your Body
Continued alcohol abuse will continue to take a toll on a person’s health over time. All of your organs are affected by alcohol use because it is a central nervous system depressant that travels through your bloodstream. Health risks include:
- Damage to Liver and Pancreas – Alcohol is metabolized by the liver but it can only do this with a small amount at one time. Your pancreas will start to produce toxic substances from consumption that can eventually lead to pancreatitis.
- Heart Disease – Various heart conditions including high blood pressure, stroke, irregular heartbeat, and cardiomyopathy can occur through drinking more than the recommended amount.
- Brain damage – The many pathways that go to your brain are disrupted and can cause problems with various brain functions. It can cause loss of coordination, changes in behavior or mood, or make it difficult to think clearly.
Dependency and Becoming Susceptible to Alcoholism
Alcohol use disorder isn’t what occurs from excessive drinking in most cases. There are other signs that could be noted if you believe someone has a disorder including:
- Difficulty limiting their drinking
- Despite personal and professional problems, they continue to drink
- Unable to think about anything else because they want to drink
- Are drinking more to get the same effect
If someone is having trouble in their relationships, social activities, school, etc., then drinking is becoming a problem. A professional should be contacted for help.
Talk To Professional Counselors
Do you or someone you love have an alcohol use disorder? We are here to help face the challenges with you. Reach out to the professionals at Aquila Recovery, and start your sober journey today. You can contact us by phone at (202) 618-9125, or send us an inquiry online.