Alcohol is more than a substance used on special occasions. Alongside parties and weekends out, it’s frequently used to relax and self-medicate in some cases. American culture is tethered to alcohol and the depths to which we experience everyday life. Although legal and widely accepted, alcohol has the power to tap into our emotions and infiltrate our minds. While it may start as an innocent diversion, alcohol is dangerous and literally toxic to the human body. But how much alcohol is too much in one night?
The environment of alcohol remains complex. While most of the U.S. regards it as an innocent pastime, well-suited for celebrations, dinners, and warm nights by a fire, it’s also wrought with an emotional burden and, to some degree, dependency. It’s a slippery slope for most drinkers, and alcohol can easily (and quickly) turn to disordered drinking.
Realities of Alcohol in Culture & Health
Before we discuss how much alcohol is too much in one night, let’s take a closer look at binge drinking as a culture. Alcohol is heavily associated with feeling good, relaxing, or celebratory moments, which has led to our desensitization of drinking’s negative impacts.
“The reality of drinking is only revealed by hidden numbers – 30% of Americans consume 80% of the country’s alcohol products, and the vast majority of those have an addiction.” – Jorge Castillo, Director of Alcohol Justice
While we witness alcohol consumption in mass quantities from blockbuster hits to weekend nights out, there are other, darker images of drinking. In 2016, 10,497 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for 28% of all traffic-related deaths in the U.S.
Alcohol has been studied extensively, with results that should alarm most. Excessive alcohol use can lead to chronic diseases such as cancers, heart disease, liver disease, and more. No matter how fun alcohol may be, it’s bad for health, especially if too many shots are involved. So how much alcohol is too much in one night?
Binge Drinking & Excessive Drinking
Knowing limits and understanding how much alcohol is too much in one night or over time is important in developing a healthy relationship with a substance entrenched in daily life.
While drinking any amount of alcohol can carry certain risks, binge drinking increases the risk of accidents, blackouts, and alcohol poisoning. Overall, roughly 88,000 deaths occur every year in the U.S. as a result of alcohol use.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) stipulates that even one episode of binge drinking can compromise the immune system’s function and lead to acute pancreatitis. Over time, it can contribute to liver and other chronic diseases.
To reduce the risk of alcohol-related harms, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that it be consumed in moderation if alcohol is consumed. How much alcohol is too much in one night? The limit is one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Weigh that against a usual night out, and it’s easy to see how harmful binge drinking can be to our health.
Why Do People Drink?
Knowing the facts about alcohol raises other questions, as well. For instance, if alcohol is so harmful, why do people drink? This is not nearly as straightforward as answering the limits on alcohol consumption in one night.
A study conducted by the National Institute of Health showed that there were many different motives for drinking alcohol, including:
- Enhance sociability
- Increase power
- Escape from problems
- Get drunk
- Ritualistic reasons
It’s not unusual to discover that a vast majority of people who suffer from alcohol addiction, or alcohol use disorder, are motivated to drink to cope, escape, avoid, or regulate unpleasant emotions. Also, evidence shows that social motives for consuming alcohol can lead to heavy drinking.
What is AUD?
AUD is the shortened term used to describe alcohol use disorder or an addiction or dependency to alcohol. It’s mostly used as an umbrella term that incorporates varying degrees of addiction or methods in which alcohol is consumed. Binge drinking, excessive drinking, and other problem drinking are connected to the development of AUD.
AUD is classified as mild, moderate, and severe, depending on the number of symptoms a person exhibits.
Improving Health with Less Alcohol
We now know how much alcohol is too much in one night, but what can abstaining from drinking do to overall health? There are numerous benefits of tapering our drinking habits – or, preferably, not drinking at all.
Unfortunately, too many people are stuck in the prison of AUD. The NIAAA reveals that more than 15 million Americans are hooked on alcohol. Further, drinking especially when it reflects dependency, can lead to problems in relationships, jobs, and other vital aspects of life. Cutting back or abstaining can reduce the probability of ever facing negative situations caused by alcohol.
Less alcohol (or no alcohol) can improve health in the following ways:
1. Liver Health
The liver helps filter toxins in the body, including alcohol. However, it can only process a certain amount of alcohol. Large amounts of booze, even just a few times, can cause the liver to work extra hard. This is why liver disease, hepatitis, cirrhosis, etc., is so common among those suffering from AUD.
Giving the liver a break from drinking can help it to regenerate. Yes, this vital organ has the capability of repairing itself with time. Unfortunately, those who are battling liver damage due to drinking may not reverse the effects. This is why harmful drinking habits must be addressed immediately.
2. Improve your sleep
It’s not widely known, but excessive alcohol disrupts sleep patterns. According to 27 various studies, while alcohol does allow healthy people to fall asleep quicker and sleep more deeply, it reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Additionally, falling asleep drunk can result in inadequate breathing and precipitate sleep apnea. Avoid these last effects of alcohol by changing consumption patterns or abstaining altogether.
3. Promotes Stronger Immunity
The human body is remarkable in its functionality. Our immune systems are designed to fight off foreign pathogens. However, when drinking too much alcohol, the immune system cannot properly function and defend against these harmful illnesses. Cutting back on it can help mitigate a variety of health risks, including COVID-19 and more.
4. Healthier Skin
Drinking too much quickly dehydrates the skin and can cause wrinkles and pores. A study by the American Academy of Dermatology found that alcohol consumption increases the risk of rosacea in women. In short, the alcohol’s weakening of the immune system and widening of the blood vessels contributes to redness and flushing.
Skin will definitely reap the benefits of going sober for good. It will have an overall healthier appearance and naturally radiant look.
Need Help Quitting?
Many health professionals recommend that alcohol abstinence should be considered periodic resets for the body’s overall health. Try not drinking for a month. Changing alcohol intake to lower amounts is one way to expose drinking habits. If you’re unable to handle intermittent periods of sobriety, there may be a reason for concern. Most people don’t realize they have a problem with alcohol until it’s too late. Seeking help sooner improves the chances of obtaining long-term sobriety.
Alcohol is one of the most addictive substances and can cause lasting damage when consumed in high amounts. However, it’s important to note that if you or someone you love is facing alcohol dependency, quitting cold turkey may have extremely adverse effects. If you have AUD, medical guidance to stop drinking will help you cope with withdrawal symptoms. These conditions include:
In severe cases, it includes:
Fortunately, there’s also medication to help curb the urge to drink and reduce the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
The steps towards recovery begin with contacting AspenRidge directly at 855-281-5588 to discuss a possible visit or discuss the best options for care. Options for care are offered in a wide variety of methods, which include:
- Day Partial Hospitalization (PHP)
- Day Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
- AspenRidge REACH Online IOP
- IOP for Professionals and Working Adults
- Outpatient Program
- Alumni & Aftercare Program
All of the professionals at AspenRidge are licensed by the State of Colorado. Each clinician has demonstrated a high level of competency for the care of those struggling with alcohol use or other substance use disorders. The methods of treatment and assessment utilized at AspenRidge are evidence-based. Engaging in evidence-based therapy allows clinicians at AspenRidge to provide the most effective and efficient care. Using evidence-based practices helps individuals seeking rehabilitative services. Still, these methods have proven to maintain a high level of success both during treatment programs and maintaining success after completing the programs at AspenRidge.
If you are questioning your relationship with alcohol, call us now to talk to our admissions counselors. They have been in your shoes and will give you recovery resources in Colorado and help you find the right program for you – even if it’s not at AspenRidge.