Am I Drinking Too Much?
When does drinking stop becoming fun and develop into a problem. You are not drinking on a park bench or having cider from a carrier bag. So you’re thinking that you haven’t got a problem with alcohol.
Maybe, maybe not?
There is a sliding scale that defines the severity of someone’s drinking problem. It starts at a far lower level than most of us would think. If you are one of the many people in Britain who is sharing a bottle of wine with their partner each night or going for a couple of pints with their work mates after work, you are probably drinking too much. In these circumstances at best you will be consuming at least 5 units of alcohol. And doing so could have dire consequences for your health.
Problem drinking is usually divided into 3 categories. It may surprise you how easy it is to fall into the first.
Current estimated statistics in Great Britain suggest that one in five women and just under a third of men will be regularly drinking above what the government guidelines suggest, (3-4 units for men, 2-3 units for women). This is rising year upon year. Even if you haven’t got caught drink driving, you may still be drinking too much. Generally it will take the liver one hour to process one unit of alcohol, so if you drink a bottle of wine on a Sunday night it will take at least 9 hours to be fully processed. It is advisable to consider having at least two drink free days each week, and maintaining a healthy relationship with alcohol to protect yourself from unwelcome health issues and to keep you looking and feeling your best.
You are putting yourself at higher risk by regularly drinking double or more than the government’s daily guidelines. This equates to 8 or more units for a male and 6 or more units for a female. Units are easier to measure than ever before as on the back of each alcoholic drink you have at home the units are clearly labelled on the product. A total of 2% of women and 8% of men drink more than the levels regarded as higher risk. For a woman we are talking 35 units of alcohol and for a man 50 units. Sounds a lot however in reality if you are a woman and drinking 2 large glasses of wine each day you fall into this category and if you are a male having four tins of 5.5% lager daily then this is you. Drinking this way puts you at risk of becoming physically dependent on alcohol with the potential that you could develop long term mental health problems or physical issues.
If you become dependent on alcohol, you may drink large amounts in one go, start drinking throughout the day, or experience withdrawal effects from stopping alcohol. More than one in 25 adults are dependent on alcohol. Dependency categorization varies from county to county however as a general rule of thumb if you are a female drinking daily and consuming at least 70 units per week then you are likely to fall into this category. If you are a male then the unit count would be approximately 100 units plus per week. Currently 1.1 million adults are classed as alcohol dependent.
Never be too proud to ask for help. There will be a specialist alcohol service in your area that will offer confidential and non judgmental support. That first step may take huge courage but it could very well save your life.
Related articles from our experts
- Emotionally abusive relationships: Survivors of narcissistic parents
Amanda Perl MSc Psychotherapist Counsellor MBPsS BACP (Accred) CBT Practitioner16th May, 2017
- Do you know domestic abuse?
Liz Jenkins Psychotherapeutic Counsellor BSc (Hons) UKCP (Reg'd/Accr'd), MBACP6th April, 2017
- The 5 stages of addiction to alcohol and drugs
Noel Bell MA, PG Dip Psych, UKCP25th January, 2017
Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.