How Much Is Too Much? How Much You Should (or Shouldn’t) Be Drinking Each Week
Whether you personally enjoy drinking alcohol or not, you’ve heard the warnings left and right about how much should be consumed. On the one hand, it’s a tasty beverage and part of a good time. On the other hand, it’s a doorway to substance abuse, altering your brain and damaging your liver. Lots of people recommend “moderation” when it comes to drinking, but what does that even mean? “Moderation” sure doesn’t seem to explain your friend who can down drink after drink at a party and feel fine the next day. And everyone seems to have a different idea of how many drinks is too many.
The Math of ‘Drinking Days’
To come to a more understandable guideline, it’s smart to think of two categories of drinking at once: how many drinks per week, and how many drinks per day.
If you have four drinks in one day, but don’t drink the rest of the week, then you probably don’t have much to worry about. However, if you have four drinks every day of the week, then that would add up to twenty-eight drinks per week. That’s double the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s (NIAAA) recommended maximum number of drinks in a week for men. (Incidentally, for women, the NIAAA recommends no more than seven drinks in a week, because of the difference in average body weight between genders.) Your friend who drinks a lot at one party, but is fine for the rest of the week, is probably that way because that one party is their drinking day for the week, and they stay under the weekly recommendation overall.
What is ‘One Drink’ Really?
Keep in mind that the definition of “one drink” changes based on what kind of drink it is. In standardized definitions, one drink is twelve ounces of regular beer, five ounces of wine, or a shot of liquor. Fortunately for those of us who are not great with mental math, particularly when we’ve been drinking, there are lots of drink calculators online that can tell you how many “drinks” the cocktail in your hand counts for.
Factors That Change This Guideline
In general, you shouldn’t let your fears of overdrinking keep you from drinking at all. Studies have shown that moderate alcohol consumption can lead to health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, gallstones, and diabetes. Of course, there are many legitimate reasons to avoid alcohol entirely, even with these potential benefits. If you have a health condition that alcohol would negatively impact – for example, if you are pregnant or have liver disease – then any amount of alcohol consumption is too much.
All That Said
Whatever the case, make sure that your decision to drink or not, or to drink a lot or a little, comes from a thoughtful decision that you have made for yourself based on your needs and desires, instead of something that someone else has pressured or scared you into. What’s the point of having a party if you aren’t having a good time during it, whatever your definition of a good time is?