Do You Drink Too Much?

Do You Drink Too Much?
By Chris Good

Published November 13, 2010 by Askmen.com

Go on, have another. You’ll be hailing the cab anyway as you’re a bit over the limit now. As for tomorrow, you survived work with a hangover last Tuesday, didn’t you? Besides, it’s your boss offering the next round! Make it a pint. Oh, and mental note: Don’t forget to pick up some beer tomorrow for Sunday’s game.

In a recent studied paid for by Britain’s Centre for Crime And Justice Studies, and reported on LATimes.com, researchers found that alcohol was more harmful compared to other drugs like heroin and crack cocaine. And because the consumption of alcohol is ingrained in our culture, it poses additional risks; whether it’s a workplace social at the pub, a case of beer for the game or a night of drinking your buddies under the table, alcohol has a prominent position in the culture of the young working man. In fact, it seems to be as much a part of socializing as body language.

But is there a point when “frequently drunk” becomes “infrequently sober?” Are you really sure that your drinking poses no threat to your social, work or physical health? Considering that an estimated 12 to 14 million Americans (about 1 in 12 adults) have a drinking problem, but only 8 million of these are alcoholics, you may not be pouring whiskey on your cornflakes just yet, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask yourself if you drink too much.

At what level?

Experts split drinking habits into four groups, relating the risk they pose to psychological and physical health. These are social, heavy, problematic, and dependent. So at what level are you drinking?

Social drinking

Social, or “moderate,” drinking in the United States would be defined as no more than two drinks a day. So if you’re gulping down a couple of pints a day from Monday to Friday with work colleagues, having a couple of glasses of red at a dinner party on Saturday and taking two cold ones from the fridge for Sunday’s game, you’re pushing the boundaries, but you wouldn’t be rushed for a stomach-pumping session any time soon. This is where you want to be as the guy climbing the career ladder or mixing with friends; you’re sociable, can enjoy a drink, but you also know when to stop.

Heavy drinking

A heavy drinker is someone who regularly drinks above the safe limits defined in “social drinking.” Consuming more than four units in one session is potentially harmful to your health and, if done regularly, can lead to serious problems. Cirrhosis of the liver, damaged pancreas, sexual or heart problems are all linked to heavy alcohol consumption. But don’t just consider physical signs. When you find yourself deserted by your colleagues — again — as you dance the cha-cha-cha on the pool table, things may have reached a new level. If relationships, work productivity or home life show some signs of suffering due to drinking habits, you should cut down your consumption.

Problem drinking

A “problem” drinker will be clunking a six-pack onto the counter on a daily basis — despite alcohol-related health, work or social problems. While not being dependent on alcohol so as to experience withdrawal symptoms, the drinking is a social and daily habit. Do you feel guilty about drinking? Do you often skip work after a night out? These are more subtle signs than cirrhosis of the liver (which is likely to be evident at this point), but are all signs that you drink too much.

Alcohol dependence

This is the muddy puddle at the bottom of the slippery slope. Where you were once the life and soul of the party, the young talent with an eye on the company director’s chair and the example of work/life balance, you now find yourself giving up on social and occupational commitments, drinking more to achieve any effect and experiencing withdrawal symptoms should you find yourself too broke to buy the booze. Despite alcohol being the origin of your current problems, it is the solution to your woes, the solace you seek and the craving that gnaws at your better judgment. Alcoholics will often deny excessive drinking, so counting up your weekly unit intake may not be the best way to become self-aware. But have you experienced some of the above life changes?_________________________________________________________________________

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