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How much alcohol is too much?

How much alcohol is too much?

Alcohol is one of the world’s most socially accepted and widely consumed substances in the world. A study by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) found that 77% of Australians aged 14 and above have consumed alcohol in their lifetime. Alcohol is also the only drug where approval of regular use by an adult was higher than disapproval.

Despite society’s approval, drinking excessively can result in severe repercussions on one’s health and wellbeing.

How much is too much?

In Australia, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) defined excessive drinking as having more than 10 standard drinks per week or four standard drinks per day. The government agency also recommends at least two alcohol-free days per week. Drinking more than what the guideline states is considered excessive drinking.

However, it’s also important to note that the effects of alcohol vary from one person to the next as several different factors need to be considered, including age, gender, metabolism, emotional states, and more.

Among other guides NHMRC outlines include

  • Children and people under 18 years of age should NOT drink alcohol
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should NOT drink
  • The less you drink, the lower your risk of harm from alcohol

What is binge drinking

Drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time (usually over the course of a few hours) with the aim of getting highly intoxicated is how Healthdirect defines binge drinking. To put a number to this definition, binge drinking is when men consume five or more standard drinks, while for women, drinking four or more is when binge drinking starts.

Some reasons for binge drinking include

  • Social pressure
  • The wrong perception of more alcohol means more fun
  • Looking for a confidence boost
  • Accidentally binge drinking
  • Coping mechanism for mental health issues

Risks associated with excessive or binge drinking

Excessive drinking leads to various health problems while increasing the risk of injury or harm. Some common risks associated with consuming too much alcohol include

  • Liver disease
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Cancer
  • Mental health problems, including anxiety and depression
  • Injury and accidents caused by impairment
  • Alcohol dependence
  • Alcohol poisoning

Getting help

If you find yourself struggling with alcohol, it’s essential to understand the three stages of overcoming this issue that is first, knowing the risks associated with too much alcohol, seeking professional help, and lastly, developing healthy coping skills.

While drinking alcohol, follow the following tips to ensure you don’t find yourself accidentally binge drinking:

  • Keep track of how many drinks you’ve had
  • Avoid unfamiliar drinks with unknown alcohol content
  • Stay away from chugging contests
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with water
  • Use a breathalyser to check your BAC every hour and ensure you’re under your set BAC limit