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How Much Alcohol Is Too Much? 

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Author: Thomas Roth

Last Updated: 8/22/2022

People drink an average of 1.35 alcoholic beverages each day. That’s roughly 8 to 10 drinks per week and almost 500 alcoholic drinks each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the safe threshold of drinking alcohol is two drinks per day or less for men and one drink per day or less for women.

So, how much alcohol is too much? For men, consuming more than 14 alcoholic beverages per week is too much. On the other hand, consuming more than 10 drinks per week for women is too much.

Additionally, how much alcohol is too much depends on several factors and whether or not someone is an alcoholic.

What is Alcohol?

Alcohol is a flammable and colorless liquid and it’s the result of fermenting natural sugars. In alcoholic beverages, alcohol is ethanol, which functions as a drug when people drink it. To make alcoholic beverages, many different fruits and bacteria go through a fermentation process. Some examples include yeast, grapes, potatoes, and corn.

Ethanol is not like other types of alcohol because the body processes it without too much trouble. However, ethanol does damage the body and increases the risk of cancer. Liver failure is also common in individuals who consume alcoholic beverages frequently.

When someone drinks an alcoholic beverage that contains ethanol, the alcohol is processed in the liver and reaches the brain. Once in the brain and blood, alcohol functions as a central nervous system depressant. Its depressant effects include dizziness, euphoria, confusion, trouble with balance, fatigue and more.

While ethanol is the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, it’s not the only type of alcohol. Several types of alcohol exist and people use alcohol for fuel, as a tool to disinfect surfaces, and as an industrial solvent. 

What is Excessive Drinking?

Excessive drinking is consuming more than four alcoholic beverages per day for men and more than two alcoholic beverages per day for women. Drinking excessively is also binge drinking, which occurs when people rapidly raise blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

An example of someone who drinks excessively is someone who consumes several alcoholic drinks per day. In fact, having four or five beers during each weekday is excessive drinking. Individuals who binge drinking every weekend also participate in excessive drinking.

It’s also worth noting that anyone who suffers from alcoholism drinks excessively. Excessive drinking is closely associated with alcoholism because alcoholics drink daily or binge drink often.

What Factors Contribute to Alcoholism?

Several factors contribute to alcoholism with the most prominent factor being family history and mental health conditions. Unfortunately, half of all alcoholism cases are influenced by genetics.

So, what is alcoholism?

Alcoholism is a chronic condition that develops when someone abuses alcohol for extended periods. Symptoms of alcoholism include alcohol withdrawal, uncontrollable urges to drink alcohol, and high alcohol tolerance.

Some of the other factors that contribute to alcoholism include drinking underage and gender. Underage drinkers have a 20% higher chance of becoming alcoholics and men are almost twice as likely to abuse alcohol than women. Other factors include home environment, family drinking history, and trauma.

How Much Alcohol is Too Much Per Day?

The amount of alcohol that’s too much per day differs between men and women. For men, consuming more than two standard drinks per day is too much. On the other hand, consuming more than one standard drink per day for women is too much. A standard drink is 12 fluid ounces of beer, 5 fluid ounces of wine, and 1.5 fluid ounces of liquor.

How Much Alcohol is Too Much for a Woman?

For women, consuming more than one standard drink per day is too much. A standard drink is the equivalent of one 12-ounce beer, a 5-ounce of wine, and a single shot of liquor. Consuming more than one of these beverages daily is too much alcohol for women. Binge drinking and drinking more than 10 standard drinks per week is also too much alcohol for women.

How Much Alcohol is Too Much for a Man?

For men, more than two standard drinks per day is too much. Two standard drinks are two 12-ounce beers, two 5-ounce glasses of white wine, or two shots of liquor (1.5 fluid ounces). The numbers for alcohol are higher because men have more body mass (on average) than women. Men are also twice as likely to binge-drink alcohol and become alcoholics.

How Much Alcohol is Safe for the Liver?

One standard drink per day for women and two standard drinks per day for men is safe for the liver. Consuming alcohol in moderation reduces alcohol’s dangerous long-term effects on the liver. The liver processes alcohol and removes it from the blood. It removes around one standard drink worth of alcohol from the bloodstream per hour.

So, when someone consumes more than one standard drink per hour, how does alcohol affect the liver? Ultimately, alcohol forces the liver to work harder. Doing so increases the risk of fatty liver disease, liver cancer, and liver failure.

How Much Alcohol is Safe for Driving?

One standard drink for women and two standard drinks for men is safe for driving. Legally, the legal limit for drinking and driving is a BAC of .08%. People typically reach .08% BAC after consuming more than three or four alcoholic beverages.

While it’s safe (for legal reasons) to drive after one or two standard drinks, driving drunk is dangerous. Not only will you harm yourself but driving while intoxicated increases the risk of you hurting someone else too.

What are the Effects of Too Much Alcohol?

There are several effects of too much alcohol. Over the long-term, drinking too much alcohol increases the risk of cancer, alcoholism, and brain damage. In the short-term, drinking too much alcohol leads to memory loss, hangovers, and a reduction in positive social interaction.

We list the effects of too much alcohol below.

  • Alcohol-related liver disease 
  • Esophagus cancer 
  • Alcoholic wet brain
  • Kidney damage 
  • Bladder problems
  • Dementia 
  • Bad social life 
  • Isolation from friends and family 
  • Poor work performance 
  • Alcohol addiction 
  • Co-occurring substance abuse disorders
  • A decline in mental health and stability

Overall, drinking too much alcohol creates several problems. Some problems are fixable, while others are permanent.

How to Stop Drinking?

The best way to stop drinking is to enter an inpatient rehab facility. For severe cases of alcoholism, inpatient rehab centers have the tools to help you with behavioral therapy, detox, and peer support. Inpatient programs last for between 30 days and 6 months (on average). Residential rehab also has the highest success rate of resolving an alcohol abuse disorder.

On the other hand, less severe cases of alcoholism are treatable in other ways. Outpatient rehab is similar to inpatient rehab but you don’t have to live at the treatment center. Furthermore, individuals can enter into Alcoholics Anonymous programs or other alternative treatment methods for alcoholism.

Does Alcohol Trigger Mental Disorders?

Yes, alcohol will trigger mental disorders. If someone struggles with anxiety or depression, drinking alcohol increases the risk of panic attacks and depressive episodes. People with mental health disorders who use alcohol as a coping mechanism also have a higher risk of developing co-occurring disorders. 

Co-occurring disorders develop in individuals who need therapy for mental health disorders and substance abuse disorders at the same time.

Is a Daily Consumption of 100 Ml of Alcohol Safe?

While drinking 100 milliliters of alcohol is safe to drink daily when drinking beer, it’s not safe when consuming stronger alcoholic beverages. 

100 milliliters is 3.4 fluid ounces. It’s safe to drink up to 12 fluid ounces of beer per day, up to 5 fluid ounces of wine per day, and up to 1.5 fluid ounces per day for liquor. Therefore, it’s safe for men and women to drink 100 milliliters of beer or wine daily.