Alcohol Awareness: how much is too much?
Most adults in the United States who drink, do so moderately and without complications. At the same time, alcohol-related problems are among the most significant public health issues in the country, especially in Wisconsin.
In a culture with significant binge-drinking, people can have a skewed sense of understanding what is considered “too much” when it comes to alcohol. In 2021, Wisconsin had the highest binge-drinking prevalence of any state, according to the CDC.
Experiencing emotional health issues and problems with alcohol or other substance use can lead to physical health concerns and an inability to carry out the usual activities of daily life. David Galbis-Reig, MD, Addiction Medicine at Ascension Wisconsin Medical Group shares the signs to look for if you are a loved one may have alcohol use disorder.
Know the alcohol consumption limit
Dr.Galbis-Reig says that binge drinking is a pattern of consuming alcohol that brings a person’s blood alcohol level to 0.08 percent or higher. For a typical adult, this pattern corresponds to consuming 5 or more drinks (male), or 4 or more drinks (female), in about 2 hours.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) describes heavy drinking as consuming more than four drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks per week as a man, and
consuming more than three drinks on any day or more than seven drinks per week as a woman.
Understand the better ways to cope
Some stress can be productive, but it can quickly become unhealthy, particularly if it isn’t properly managed. Alcohol may feel like it reduces stress, but it’s actually a depressant that impairs and slows physical and psychological activity.
Alcohol should especially be avoided during or after a big life change, such as losing a loved one or a job. Drinking to cope with stress risks alcohol becoming a problem, even if it wasn’t before.
Get a personalized screening for alcohol use disorder
Primary care doctors care for emotional and mental health concerns and that includes screening for alcohol or other substance use disorders. This screening provides a care plan to help drinkers reduce or quit alcohol consumption and avoid the harmful symptoms too much drinking can cause. It also helps to identify alcohol use disorders, including addiction, and some specific effects of harmful drinking — and start the conversation around seeking a connection to therapists or addiction specialists, as needed
Talk to a doctor who listens
Our doctors and substance use specialists at Ascension Wisconsin sites of care are committed to delivering compassionate support and care at every step through personalized substance use disorder programs. Reaching out for support for addiction is an important step that takes courage. Ascension Wisconsin has dedicated treatment programs for adolescents and adults.
No matter what problems you're dealing with, if you need someone to lean on for emotional support, call or text 988 or chat988lifeline.org/chat.
If you or a loved one are experiencing an immediate life-threatening emergency, go directly to the ER or call 911.
David Galbis-Reig, MD, DFASAM, is an Ascension Medical Group Wisconsin physician specializing in addiction medicine and internal medicine.