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Concerned About Excessive Alcohol Use?

Concerned About Excessive Alcohol Use?

Recent studies reveal that Americans have increased their alcohol intake significantly and that excessive drinking has become more prevalent due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the study “Alcohol Consumption During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Cross-Sectional Survey of US Adults,” alcohol use in the U.S. is a public health problem that appears to have worsened since the onset of COVID-19. In fact, a 2021 survey conducted by the American Psychological Association found that nearly one in four Americans reported drinking more specifically to combat pandemic-related stress.

Whether you have a drink to ease some of the tension of the COVID-19 pandemic or to unwind after a hard day, drinking alcohol does not really help reduce stress in the long run. In reality, it can actually compound your stress. Excessive drinking also can cause—or contribute to—liver damage, cardiovascular disease, multiple types of cancer, decreased immune system and other illnesses.

Admitting you may be drinking too much, or that you may have an addiction, can be difficult, so start by asking yourself these questions:

Do I drink excessively?

Understanding what constitutes excessive drinking is critical to knowing when you are consuming too much. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), excessive drinking includes:

  • Binge drinking: consuming, during a single occasion, four or more drinks for women; five or more drinks for men
  • Heavy drinking: consuming, per week, eight or more drinks for women; 15 or more drinks for men

How many drinks do I consume?

It is good to be aware of how many drinks you are having and when—so start counting. Be honest with yourself, and track your habits, including the number of drinks and the frequency (within one evening, one week, etc.). Tracking this on paper or in your smartphone can help establish a pattern or even help you realize it is time to cut back.

Can I really cut back?

Quitting cold turkey can be difficult and stressful, so set measurable goals instead. For example, aim to drink fewer than seven days a week; cut back from three beers a night to two; or even limit yourself to partaking, in moderation, only on the weekends.

Whatever you decide, make sure the goals you set are both specific and achievable.

Is my serving size too much?

What qualifies as a single serving of alcohol can be deceiving. Rather than rely on the glass to set the standard, measure each pour. According to the CDC, a standard drink in the U.S. is comprised of 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol, which is generally found in:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 8 ounces of malt liquor
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits or liquor

Why do I drink?

Knowing what triggers your craving for alcohol is a great step toward helping you determine how to manage it. Do you drink when you are bored? Stressed? Sad? Happy? In social situations? Pinpointing the cause of the urge can help put you in control, allowing you either to eliminate or to avoid situations that might push you to drink when you would otherwise have chosen not to drink.

Bottom line: increasing your self-awareness of when and why you drink as well as how much you drink, can help you determine if it’s time to cut back.

Southwest General’s Oakview Behavioral Health Services is fully accredited by The Joint Commission and licensed as an addiction treatment center by the state of Ohio. The center features a multidisciplinary clinical team and a highly successful back-to-basics approach to help adults recover from substance abuse. Family involvement is highly encouraged. To learn more about our behavioral health programs and services or to make an appointment, call 440-816-6944.