A new study from the Center for Disease Control claims that one in three, or 33% of American adults, drink to excess. Basically, a third of every person over the age of eighteen drinks excessively. That works out to approximately 100 million people. Let’s explore what drinking to excess means and how it affects those around us.
What is Drinking to Excess?
The CDC defines drinking to excess differently for men and women. For men, it’s consuming fifteen or more drinks per week. For women, it’s consuming eight or more drinks per week.
These numbers make it a bit clearer why so many Americans drink to excess. Most people have a glass of wine or a beer with dinner. If they do that every night, and then have a few drinks over the weekend, they’re drinking excessively.
These numbers also explain why a mere 10% of excessive drinkers meet the criteria for alcoholism. Although people may be drinking too much, they don’t have trouble stopping, and they don’t experience withdrawals when stopped.
What is Binge Drinking?
Binge drinking is also defined differently for men and women. For men, binge drinking is when they consume more than five drinks in a short period. For women, it’s when they consume more than four drinks in a short period.
It’s important to note that these are rough estimates. Binge drinking depends on a person’s weight, height, and how quickly they metabolize alcohol.
While binge drinking has long been associated with alcoholism, this isn’t always the case. Remember, the CDC’s new study found that only 10% of those who binge drink are alcohol dependent.
What is Alcohol Dependence?
Alcohol dependence, or alcoholism, is one of the most misunderstood terms in the English language. Ask ten people what alcoholism means, and you’ll likely get ten different answers.
There’s the twelve-step definition of alcoholism, which proposes that it’s a disease of body, mind, and spirit. Then there’s the medical definition. This suggests that alcohol dependence is a rewiring of the brain, leading to physical withdrawal symptoms and the inability to stop drinking despite adverse consequences.
For this article, let’s define alcohol dependence as the CDC does. They explain alcoholism as a chronic disease that includes “a strong craving for alcohol, continued use despite repeated, physical, psychological, or interpersonal problems, and the inability to limit drinking.”
Alcohol addiction is relatively common, and most people are at risk of developing alcohol dependence. Since alcohol is such a socially accepted substance, it’s common for people to fall for the social pressure of drinking — particularly teenagers and young adults trying to fit in among their social circles.
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol substance use or always drinks to excess, consider speaking to an addiction specialist. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, our therapists are always available to help you find the best addiction treatment program to find long-term recovery and sobriety. A life free of substance abuse is possible, and it starts here.