Having a drink with dinner, when out with friends, or in the evening is a habit for many people. Most people are not addicted to alcohol, but for those who are, the consequences can be devastating. From car accidents to liver disease, excessive drinking affects all aspects of life.
How Big Is The Problem of Alcohol Dependence in the U.S.?
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. states that 1 out of every 12 adults is dependent upon or abuses alcohol. This works out to be about 17.6 million people. A very concerning statistic is that more than 7 million kids live in a household where at least one parent abuses alcohol.
The CDC estimates that nearly 80,000 deaths each year can be attributed to excessive drinking and that 40% of hospital beds in the U.S. (excluding maternity) are being used to treat health issues related to alcohol. Excess alcohol use can lead to cardiovascular disease, liver disease, depression/anxiety, stroke, and it may raise the risk
of certain cancers. Also, drinking too much can affect family relationships, marriage, friendships, and even employment.
The NCADD offers a self-test that can indicate if you have a problem with alcohol or are at risk for having a problem. Check it out here.
What is Sensible Drinking?
The 2015 Dietary Guidelines state that if you choose to drink, do not exceed more than one drink a day for women, and two drinks a day for men. A drink is considered to be 5 oz of wine, 12 oz of beer, or 1.5 oz of hard liquor.
Keep in mind that restaurant pours are often larger than these standard serving sizes. For example, a restaurant glass of wine can be up to 10 oz. A “tall” beer at a restaurant can be 24 oz or more. Children and teens, pregnant women, people who plan to drive after drinking, and those who take medicines that may interact with alcohol should totally abstain from use.
Oldways offers some of their guidelines for sensible alcohol consumption. Check them out here. They recommend that wine is consumed as part of social or family occasions or celebrations, but alcohol should never be the main focus. Parents should be a good example to children, demonstrating what moderate drinking entails. Wine should be a part of meals ideally, and not alone.
Most people can safely enjoy alcohol, and keep in mind that there are health benefits to sensible drinking. Just be mindful when you drink—enjoy it and savor it!