Do you consider yourself to be a social drinker? Are you aware of what it means? All across the world, the consumption of alcohol is part of the culture. Many countries take a lot of pride in the alcohol that is produced in that region. It has also become acceptable to consume alcohol when celebrating a variety of special occasions or to enjoy a drink or two after a particularly hard day at work.
It may surprise you to learn that there are risks associated with social drinking and you might be putting yourself at a higher chance of developing long-term health conditions because of the amount of alcohol you regularly drink.
What Is a Social Drinker?
There are four types of drinking: social, binge, problem and alcoholism. Social drinking is considered to be moderate alcohol consumption. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020, issued by the US Department of Health and Human Services and US Department of Agriculture, moderate drinking is one drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. The definition of “one drink” is 12 fluid ounces of beer, five fluid ounces of wine, or 1.5 fluid ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.
The Risks Associated With Social Drinking
One of the most common risks of social drinking is that you can develop an alcohol use disorder. An alcohol use disorder occurs when you are drinking more or for longer than you initially intended, you experience cravings or urges to drink, are unable to stop or reduce your intake of alcohol, continue to drink even though you know there are risks and are developing tolerance. If you’re worried about whether you’re struggling with an alcohol use disorder, it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of the disorder.
Other risks associated with drinking socially over a long period include:
- Damage to the nervous system
- Brain damage
- Liver disease
- Heart disease
- Cancers of the mouth, throat, and breast
- Fertility problems
- Glucose imbalance
- Heart arrhythmia
How to Drink Safely
Many people may believe that the only way to drink safely is not to drink at all. However, that’s not a realistic expectation for everyone. A few guidelines to keep in mind include:
- Slow the speed that alcohol is absorbed into your system by eating food
- Drink water to quench your thirst before consuming alcohol
- Don’t consume alcohol if you’re tired, upset or depressed
- Don’t consider getting drunk a worthy goal
- Include several drink-free days in an average week
- Limit your alcohol intake to 14 drinks (for men) or 7 drinks (for women) and spread these out over the week
- If you’re taking medication, make sure it’s safe to consume alcohol
- If you’re concerned about your drinking habits, seek professional help
The effects of alcohol on your health will vary depending on how much you drink. The less you drink, the lower the risk to your health. While it might be enjoyable to have a drink at the end of a long day or when you’re socializing with friends, always keep in mind the damage you may be doing to your body if your overdo it.