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Surprised by the Empty Wine Bottle?

A lot of people have been talking to me lately about an increase in their alcohol intake. They

want to know if they are drinking too much and what is considered a “healthy” amount of

alcohol. In this blog, I’ll give you my take on this question, as well as give you a brief rundown

of how alcohol can affect our health. We are certainly in a very stressful time right now. Many

people were already using substances (alcohol, sugar, nicotine etc.) to cope with stress. The

pandemic has only increased this habit for many people. I hear people saying “there’s nothing

else to do but drink (boredom), “I’m so worried about everything, a drink relaxes me” (dealing

with an unpleasant feeling) or “I can’t get together with people and I miss socializing”

(Loneliness).

In pondering how much alcohol is “too much”, there are many factors to take into account,

such as age, gender, medical conditions, history of addiction etc. Probably the most commonly

accepted alcohol guidelines come from the US Dept. of Health and Human Services’ 2015 –

2020 Dietary Guidelines, which say no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a

day for men. Another guideline comes from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and

Alcoholism, which says drinking is considered to be in the moderate or low-risk range for

women at no more than three drinks in any one day and no more than seven drinks per week.

For men, it is no more than four drinks a day and no more than 14 drinks per week. This does

not mean that if you are not drinking that much, or not drinking at all, you should start drinking

that much!! It’s meant as an upper limit for drinking. A drink is defined as 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of

wine or 1.5 oz of hard liquor. Some of the possible adverse effects of drinking more than this

limit are accidents and obesity, increased risk of liver disease, heart disease, cancer (including

breast!!), osteoporosis, memory problems and substance use disorder (becoming dependent

on alcohol). It can also increase your risk for mental health disorders such as anxiety and

depression.

If you are concerned about your level of drinking, I strongly encourage you to take action. You

can do a self-evaluation using this AUDIT form. I would be happy to talk to anyone who is concerned about their drinking and help point you to resources that would help you. I don’t work with people who have a Substance Use Disorder (I would refer you to a professional) but I do work with people who would like to change/reduce their drinking. Trust me when I tell you that I understand that these recommended limits seem very low, especially when you are in a social situation. It’s important to be very mindful of what you are thinking and feeling when you are tempted to drink too much. Are you bored, lonely, anxious or having another kind of unpleasant feeling? It’s so important not to judge any

feelings or thoughts that you notice are coming up and to have compassion for yourself. Then

we can work on healthier alternatives to alcohol that will bring you much better wellness. The

bottom line on alcohol is that you really have to weigh the Pros of drinking more than the

recommended guidelines vs the Cons of doing so! You can reach out here with any questions you have. We are all in this together!


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