Author: Charles Frank

Q&A:Moderate vs heavy drinking

what is moderate drinking

The broadest category is that of “distilled spirits,” which includes numerous beverages, such as gin, rum, vodka, whiskey, scotch, bourbon, and premixed cocktails. Binge drinking — that is, drinking a lot in a short amount of time, such as four (for women) or five (for men) drinks in two hours — can be just as harmful to your health as heavy daily drinking — perhaps even more so. In addition to all the risks of heavy drinking, binge drinking also commonly leads to poor decision-making, injuries, alcohol poisoning and impaired driving.

  1. Generally, the quantity question asks for the typical number of drinks consumed per occasion, providing the respondent with some definition of a drink (e.g., one 12 oz can or bottle of beer) on which to base his or her answer.
  2. It then describes several approaches to determining people’s drinking levels and patterns.
  3. Thus, a person drinking such a bottle may still report having had just one drink, although the amount consumed is approximately equivalent to the beer in three regular 12 oz bottles.
  4. For men, heavy drinking means more than four drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks a week.
  5. Limit milk/dairy (1-2 servings/day) and juice (1 small glass/day).
  6. It is a central nervous system depressant that is rapidly absorbed from the stomach and small intestine into the bloodstream.

In the scientific literature, the wide range of assumptions about what a standard drink is can produce highly divergent estimates of total alcohol consumption among respondents who report consuming the same number of drinks. Turner based the comparison on fictional respondents who reported drinking one standard drink (as defined in each study) each of beer, wine, and spirits for a total alcohol consumption of three drinks per day. Using the different methodologies and assumptions regarding alcohol contents employed in four highly respected studies, Turner found that the total alcohol amounts corresponding to three drinks per day ranged from 24 g to 48 g. Consequently, when reading an article that relates a certain number of drinks per day to a specific health benefit or risk, one must pay careful attention to how a drink is defined in that study. The wide methodological diversity helps to explain, at least in part, the seemingly contradictory study findings regarding the consequences of certain drinking levels.

Drink Alcohol Only in Moderation

Many current definitions of moderate drinking are based on a specific number of drinks consumed during a designated time period (e.g., per day or per week). This definition, however, raises the obvious question, What is a “drink” ? Another important question is, Why does it matter how a drink is defined? This article first reviews considerations relevant to defining a drink. It then describes several approaches to determining people’s drinking levels and patterns.

what is moderate drinking

Heavy drinking, including binge drinking, is a high-risk activity. 1Changes over the past 25 years in the definitions of many psychiatric disorders have resulted in the continual need to develop new instruments to assess evolving criteria. Likewise, criteria in the ninth revision of the International Classification of Diseases (World Health Organization [WHO] 1977) were modified substantially in the 10th revision (WHO 1992). Decide how many days a week you’ll drink and how much you’ll drink on those days.

Women considering consuming alcohol during lactation should talk to their healthcare provider.4 Learn more about breastfeeding and alcohol use. Furthermore, although alcohol research in general is becoming increasingly sophisticated, the measurement of alcohol consumption remains imprecise. In alcohol epidemiology, differences abound in definitions, scientific assumptions (e.g., regarding the alcohol content of a drink), and methods for calculating drinking levels. Although no one method or assumption is inherently better or worse than another, substantial differences in their use and in the resulting findings exist. These differences may result in ambiguous or even conflicting results and must be taken into account in order to draw valid conclusions or develop appropriate guidelines.

Survey Methodology

Nevertheless, research to date investigating the association between alcohol consumption levels and various diseases has relied primarily on self-reports of alcohol consumption. To many people, the word “abstainer” means someone who drinks no alcohol. To others, including many researchers, the term may encompass more than nondrinkers, including some people who drink a little bit. In contrast, in the National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey, in order to be considered a current drinker, a person had to report consuming 12 or more drinks during the year preceding the survey interview.

Here, use and consequences are studied independently rather than as one psychiatric condition. Systematic epidemiological sociological surveys of the general U.S. population began in the 1960s. Most of those national and community studies were sponsored by NIAAA and its predecessor within the National Institute of Mental Health. Since 1965 researchers at the Alcohol Research Group in Berkeley, California, have conducted, at approximately 5-year intervals, nine national surveys as well as numerous community studies. The researchers have invested much effort in maintaining some degree of comparability across surveys, despite changing definitions and conceptualizations of alcohol-use disorders (Grant 1994).

what is moderate drinking

All states in the United States have adopted 0.08% (80 mg/dL) as the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle for drivers aged 21 years or older (except for Utah, which adopted a 0.05% legal limit in 2018). However, drivers younger than 21 are not allowed to operate a motor vehicle with any level of alcohol in their system. Alcohol use slows reaction time and impairs judgment and coordination, which are all skills needed to drive a car safely.6 The more alcohol consumed, the greater the impairment. When it comes to alcohol, if you don’t drink, don’t start for health reasons. During pregnancy, drinking may cause the unborn baby to have brain damage and other problems. And drinking raises the risk of problems in the digestive system.

Considerable variation may occur even within these categories, with the alcohol content of some varieties being as low as 30 percent and others as high as 75 percent. Liqueurs and cordials, usually grouped with distilled spirits, often are less concentrated than standard liquors. Grain alcohol, which is virtually pure ethanol, is often bottled at a concentration of 94 percent alcohol by volume.

Alcohol: Balancing Risks and Benefits

Alcohol is produced by the fermentation of yeast, sugars, and starches. Heavy drinking also has been linked to intentional injuries, such as suicide, as well as accidental injury and death. Talk with a doctor or nurse if you’re having a hard time cutting back on your drinking. If you keep a lot of alcohol around, you may be tempted to go over the drinking limit you set for yourself when you’re at home. If you have a bad day or are feeling angry, don’t reach for a drink.

The rapid progress in computer technology, however, has led to the development and use of computer-assisted telephone interview systems. Because they are considerably less costly than face-to-face interviews, telephone surveys are rapidly gaining popularity among survey researchers. Scientists are divided as to whether the assessment mode influences reported alcohol consumption. Recent studies have found no significant differences between in-person and telephone interviews on most measures of drinking behavior (Greenfield et al. 1997; Rehm 1998). Questionnaires using the graduated frequency approach consistently produce higher estimates of volume of alcohol consumption than do QF measures, particularly among heavier drinkers.

While exercising and eating right are great things for your health, they don’t really counteract the negative effects of alcohol. Limit milk/dairy (1-2 servings/day) and juice (1 small glass/day). The contents of this website are for educational purposes and are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, is an intoxicating ingredient found in beer, wine, and liquor.

Certain people should avoid alcohol completely, including those who:

Those scientists may not be as attuned as alcohol researchers to the numerous methodological subtleties involved in measuring alcohol consumption and thus may be more likely to misinterpret some of the findings. More detailed and specific questions also elicit higher estimates of alcohol consumption. For example, separate QF questions for different periods within a given timeframe (e.g., each month within the past year) produce higher estimates than does one global QF question (e.g., consumption during the entire year). Similarly, beverage-specific questions or questions asking for consumption in different contexts (e.g., in bars, at home, or at parties and celebrations) produce higher estimates than do global questions asking about total alcohol consumption. The perspective of epidemiological sociology is the synthesis of several epidemiological approaches to the study of alcohol use and abuse and their consequences.