Many adults in the United States identify as “moderate” or “social” drinkers. Moderate drinking is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as drinking no more than two drinks a day for men, and one for women.
The health effects of drinking alcohol in moderation can vary based on a person’s overall health, how much they drink, and other factors. Drinking in moderation doesn’t always mean having a drink every day. Many adults who consider themselves moderate drinkers drink alcohol a couple of times a week, or less.
The effects and implications of drinking on a daily basis can be more complicated. People who have a drinking problem will likely have difficulty reducing or stopping how much they drink. This feeling of lacking control or craving alcohol can be a sign of dependence and addiction.
Alcohol dependence and addiction are just two risks of drinking every day. Heavy alcohol consumption can pose several other health risks, including gastritis, and eventually liver and heart disease. Continue reading below to learn more about the effects of drinking every day and treatment options for alcohol abuse.
Short Term Effects Of Alcohol
Alcohol can have a number of short-term effects on both the brain and body, affecting how a person behaves, their ability to focus, and coordination. Drinking alcohol can also increase the risk of dangerous behaviors such as drinking and driving.
Drinking and driving are one of the most dangerous and deadly activities associated with alcohol use. The U.S. Department of Transportation states that in 2017 alone there were 10,874 reported alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities, occurring once every 48 minutes.
In general, alcohol can have mental and physical effects that can put a person at greater risk for engaging in risky behaviors, suffering injuries, and being either the perpetrator or victim of violence.
Short term effects of alcohol include:
- poor judgment
- difficulty concentrating
- decreased coordination
- slowed reaction time
- blurred or double vision
- increased blood pressure
- decreased body temperature
- mood swings
- blacking out
Whether or not a person experiences some or most of these short-term effects will depend on factors such as how much the person has drunk, body-size, age, and tolerance for alcohol.
When Is Moderate Drinking Unsafe?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are some circumstances in which even moderate drinking can be unsafe.
In general, daily or moderate drinking may not be safe for people who are:
- pregnant or breastfeeding
- under the age of 21
- have certain medical conditions that can become worsened with alcohol use
- taking medications that interact with alcohol
- recovering from alcohol abuse or alcoholism
- operating large or powerful machinery, including motor vehicles
If you can relate to one or more of the situations above, be sure to talk to your doctor before drinking alcohol. Continuing to drink while meeting one of the above criteria may result in harmful effects on your health and wellbeing.
Although there have been statements in the past asserting that moderate drinking can have some positive health benefits, the CDC now states that this may not be true. Although heavy drinking is more harmful than the occasional drink, even moderate drinking may increase the risk for some cancers and liver disease.
Long Term Effects
The short-term effects of alcohol, such as the increased risk for injuries and alcohol poisoning, are concerning. However, what’s become additionally worrying is increasing evidence pointing to some negative long-term effects of drinking, even in moderate amounts.
Drinking alcohol can increase the risk for a number of health conditions and diseases, including:
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
- cancer (throat, stomach, oral cavity, breast cancer, esophagus, liver, rectum, colon)
- nutritional deficiencies
- memory problems
- erectile dysfunction or irregular menstruation
Drinking on a daily basis, and in large amounts, can also lead to changes in weight, cause dehydration, and be more risky for people with health conditions such as diabetes.
These long-term health consequences are more likely to occur when a person is drinking more than a ‘moderate’ amount of alcohol – i.e. more than one or two drinks per day.
This does not mean that moderate drinking, or drinking on a daily basis, is completely safe. Every person who goes on to develop a drinking problem has to begin somewhere, and for many, that starting point can be moderate or daily drinking.
Drinking alcohol every day is not a definitive sign of alcohol abuse or addiction by itself.
Signs that someone may have a drinking problem include:
- continuing to drink in the face of negative effects on health, relationships, or work-life
- unable to reduce or cut down on drinking
- experiencing cravings for alcohol
- needing to drink more than you used to in order to feel the same effects
- often drinking more than you expected or wanted to
- hiding or lying about how much you drink
If you are uncomfortable with how much you drink or are worried about your drinking habits, consider talking to your doctor or an addiction specialist. Drinking problems tend to grow worse over time and can have consequences on all aspects of your life beyond just your health.
Alcohol Dependence And Addiction
Millions of adults in the United States are dependent or addicted to alcohol in any given year. Although many adults in the U.S. who drink do not develop a serious problem, a sizeable amount of adults go on to develop a physical and psychological dependence on alcohol.
These struggles are problems that develop over time. Although alcohol is the direct cause of dependence, the reasons behind why a person develops a drinking problem can be complicated and complex.
One of the most important questions to ask yourself if you are drinking on a daily basis is: why? Relieving stress or wanting to feel more comfortable in social situations are common reasons people claim to drink, but these can also be warning signs of a problem.
- feel unable to control your drinking
- are unable to stop drinking
- drink to avoid or numb feelings
- experience withdrawal effects (e.g. tremors, headaches, anxiety, sweating, insomnia)
- can’t imagine yourself not drinking on a daily basis
Then you may have a problem. Many people with alcohol dependence or addiction are on some level aware that their drinking habits are not normal. It is also common to be in denial, although this can be more difficult to maintain as the issue progresses.
Are You Concerned About Your Daily Drinking?
If you are concerned about your own drinking habits, or that of someone else, the first step is to reach out to a professional. At Vertava Health, we have a free and confidential helpline that operates 24 hours a day, answering questions about alcohol abuse, addiction, and rehab options.
Our treatment centers, operating at several locations nationwide, offer various rehab programs that can be customized based on the severity of your drinking and other personal needs.
Don’t wait to reach out to our specialists. Contact us today to learn more about treatment for alcoholism at Vertava Health.