Where is the fine line between a social drinker and an alcoholic? Who makes that decision? What is the difference?
Many women enjoy their occasional glass of wine or evening cocktail to relax and ease some stress but there is a point where one glass of “mommy’s little helper” turns into two or three and suddenly relaxation time has become an addiction with serious consequences.
An alcoholic, or person who has a problem with alcohol, cannot be defined by the number of drinks they have.
Alcohol addiction is determined by the person's desire to drink, whether the person continues to use alcohol even when it has harmful consequences, and whether the person needs more drinks to attain the effects. As well, an alcoholic will have withdrawal symptoms when drinking is discontinued.
While some people are dependent on alcohol, you can still have a drinking problem without being outright dependent if you repeatedly drink too much, engage in binge drinking (common on weekends), and if you are in denial about the amount and frequency of your drinking.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, moderate alcohol drinking is consumption of one drink per day (seven drinks per week) for women and two drinks per day (14 drinks per week) for men. Binge drinking is defined as routinely drinking four or more drinks for women or five or more drinks for men in a certain time period -- typically two to three hours.
In the short term, alcohol often causes relaxation and stress relief which is why so many women (and men) turn to a drink after work or a long day. However not everyone becomes relaxed and more at ease when they drink.
Others become angry or mean. Brain function becomes impaired, speech starts to slur, focus becomes difficult, judgement is altered, motor skills decline, blood vessels dilate and vision blurs.
Over time, alcohol has a significant impact on liver function, blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar, hormone balance, skin health, brain function, fertility, weight, sleep (especially in menopause) and memory.
What can you do if you feel you have a problem with alcohol?
- Recognize the problem.