Alcohol: Am I Drinking Too Much?
IfHow much is “too much”?
Drinking becomes too much when it causes or elevates the risk for alcohol-related problems or complicates the management of other health problems. The individual doing the drinking will often under report how many drinks they are having. It can be helpful to ask a trusted friend if they have ever worried about your drinking. According to research, men who drink 5 or more drinks per day (or 15 or more per week) and women who drink 4 or more in a day (or 8 or more per week) are at increased risk for the mental health issue related to alcohol use.
Don't fight drunk!
Couples that drink and fight have a harder time "repairing" from their conflict. When under the influence of alcohol, many people say things that they do not mean and regret saying later. The verbal attacks come from a primitive animal side that does not fully represent who that person is. The problem with these words is that once they are said, they can't be unheard. Your partner could hear the name calling or put downs as the "real" truth and reset their expectations for the relationship. These changes can be permanent and destructive to the sense of safety in intimate relationships. If you and your partner fight a great deal when drinking, try reducing drinking while together or create a permanent "timeout" from conflict during alcohol consumption. If you are having trouble cutting back on drinking or you think that alcohol is impacting your relationship, try looking for a couples counselor that has experience working with addiction and relationships.
At-risk drinking and alcohol problems are common. About 3 in 10 U.S. adults drink at levels that increase their risk for mental health and social problems. Of these heavy drinkers, about 1 in 4 currently has what psychology would define as alcohol abuse or dependence. All heavy drinkers have a greater risk of sleep disorders, major depression, and anxiety during withdrawal. Heavy drinking can even go undetected as individuals with alcohol problems can become adept at secrecy and misdirection. In a recent study of doctors, patients with alcohol dependence got proper care only about 10 percent of the time.
For patients with insurance, contact a behavioral health case manager at the insurance company for a referral. For patients who are uninsured For patients who are employed, ask whether they have access to an Employee Assistance Program with options for addiction counseling.
To locate treatment options in your area:
Call the National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) offers free, widely available groups of volunteers in recovery from alcohol dependence. Volunteers are often willing to work with professionals who refer patients. For contact information for your region, visit http://www.aa.org.
Other help organizations offer secular approaches, groups for women only, or support for family members. Look for these type of groups on the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information Website.
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