WATCH BINGE DRINKING
You may have heard that drinking alcohol in moderation can be beneficial for your health. However, when you cross into heavy and/or binge drinking, those health benefits are erased and alcohol begins to have bad effects on your health. So what is moderate, heavy and binge drinking? Definitions are different based on the person’s sex, because there are differences in how men’s and women’s bodies process and metabolize alcohol.
Moderate drinking for women is defined as having one or fewer drinks per day. For men, moderate drinking is having 2 or fewer drinks per day.
Heavy drinking for women is defined as having 4 or more drinks on one occasion or 8 or more drinks over the course of a week. For men, this is 5 or more drinks at one time or 15 or more drinks per week.
Binge drinking for women is defined as having 4 or more drinks within a 2-hour period. For men, having more than 5 drinks in a 2-hour period is considered binging.
The numbers above are referring to “standard” drinks. One “standard” drink is equivalent to:
12 ounces of regular beer (a can or bottle), 5 ounces of wine (a small ‘pour’), and 1 shot of liquor (e.g. a single shot glass of gin). Some drinks are marketed as “safer” (i.e., wine coolers), but can have higher alcohol content than other drinks!
Tips for Healthy Drinking Habits:
- Know your limit & plan ahead.
- Eat food before and while you drink.
- Sip your drink (to slow down)
- Skip a drink now and then and substitute with a non-alcoholic drink
- Drink a glass of water with your drink and sip on that between sips of your drink
- Don’t take a drink from someone you don’t know
- Have a designated driver
- Respect the rights of people who do not wish to drink alcohol
- Keep track of how many drinks you are having
- Space your drinks
- Drink for quality vs. quantity
- Avoid drinking games
- When ordering a drink at the bar, watch the bartender make your drink so you can know how much alcohol you will be having
- Alcohol and sex do not mix- drunken sex is not consensual sex
- Be careful what you combine; most drugs and alcohol do not mix well. Be sure to read all warning labels.
If you or a loved one is struggling with heavy or binge drinking, visit alcohol.org to learn more about alcohol use disorders and available resources.
More alcohol and binge drinking resources:
Binge Drinking FAQs – More information on the effects of binge drinking on individuals and communities
SAMHSA – Facts, figures, and resources on addiction from the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. National Helpline- 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
My Virtual Bar – An app that allows you to track you drinks and estimates your blood alcohol content (BAC)
Rethinking Drinking – Tips for how to reduce drinking if you have identified it as a problem for you.
Effects & Treatment: Project Know – Additional information on binge drinking and treatment options
Local AA Treatment – Find local support for alcohol use disorders
SMART Recovery – Self-empowerment program and online support community to change problematic health behaviors including alcohol use disorder
Thinking about getting pregnant? Keep in mind almost half of pregnancies happen without planning and even small amounts of alcohol during initial weeks of pregnancy can cause long-term problems for baby. There is no known safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy or while trying to get pregnant. There is also no safe time during pregnancy to drink. According to the CDC, more than 3 million US women are at risk of exposing their developing baby to alcohol. The good news is that 100% of fetal Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) are completely preventable.
Everyone deserves access to a trained professional who understands and listens. Need support? If you have health insurance, check out your coverage and ask for help finding someone in-network. Ask your friends – it is okay and important to talk about this with people you trust. You can contact NAMI online or Local AA Treatment – Find local support for alcohol use disorders. Get started by finding a local health center to check in on yourself.