How much alcohol is too much? We all know when we have had too much. Unfortunately, this realization often comes too late, after we are already intoxicated and exhibiting bad judgment. Then there’s drinking on a regular basis. We tend to underestimate how much we drink if we don’t consume a lot at one sitting. We often do not recognize the problem until after we have made daily drinking an all-too-familiar habit.
It is good to step outside yourself a bit and honestly evaluate your alcohol intake to see if you are crossing the line into dangerous territory.
How Much Alcohol is Too Much in One Night?
You go out with friends and want to make sure that you stay in control and don’t get inebriated. Is it possible to enjoy some drinks without ending up with a hangover or worse? Absolutely. You just have to know how many you can safely have – and this number isn’t the same for everyone. A few factors influence the rate at which you metabolize alcohol and how quickly you’re affected by those cocktails and beers.
- The first thing to take into account is your weight. Simply put, the less you weigh the lower your tolerance will be. For instance, a person who weighs 180 pounds will be able to consume safely more alcohol in a shorter time than someone who weighs 120 pounds.
- Gender also plays a very big role. The rate of intoxication is higher for women when they ingest the same amount of alcohol as a man who weighs the same. This is because women tend to have a higher body fat percentage than men. Since fat does not absorb alcohol, it becomes more heavily concentrated in the bloodstream.
- Individual factors will also contribute to the way a person responds to alcohol consumption. The amount of food you eat and how accustomed you are to drinking may affect how drunk you feel and how well you can “handle” your liquor. However, these factors will not affect blood alcohol levels (BAC).
If you are curious about what your blood alcohol would be after a certain amount of drinks, try the handy BAC calculator created by the Oklahoma Police Department. Remember, this is just to give you a general idea and shouldn’t be taken as 100% accurate. Even if you are under the legal limit, law enforcement always recommends that you not drink and drive.
How Much Alcohol is Too Much over Time?
Now that you know how many you can handle in one night but what about your overall drinking pattern? Could you be in danger of becoming dependent or suffering poor health because of drinking too often? The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has laid out the following guidelines to help people gauge whether their drinking is becoming excessive.
- For men, having more than four drinks on a given day and/or having in excess of 14 drinks per two week period is probably too much. Look at this over a long period. If you had that much in the last two weeks, but abstained on most other two-week periods, you probably do not need to worry.
- Women who drink three or more drinks in a day and/or more than seven within the two-week timeframe are likely consuming too much alcohol. Again, look at this in terms of regular patterns. If you had three drinks in a day but didn’t drink again for a week or two, you are probably not drinking too heavily.
Keeping a journal to track how much you drink – and how often – can help you to get some perspective on whether you have a problem with alcohol. If you find that you do drink at these levels on a consistent basis, you may be what the NIAAA calls “at-risk” for dependency. If that is the case, it’s important you take steps to cut down on drinking. You know yourself better than anyone else, so look at your situation honestly and use the insight to make the best decisions possible to support your health and quality of life.
I came across this very interesting publication from the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK about alcohol and how many units of alcohol you might be drinking. It is a booklet which helps you to work out how many units of alcohol you are drinking, goes into some of the effects of excessive drinking and then gives some great advice on how to moderate your drinking.
Here are their Top 10 tips for balancing your drinking.
- Decide how many units you want to drink in an evening and stick with it.
- Reduce your units by choosing drinks that are not so strong.
- Avoid top-ups so you can keep track of your units.
- Drink water before you go out. Then drink either water or a soft drink between each alcoholic drink.
- Eat before you go out and while you are drinking.
- If you think you may be drinking a bit much, set aside specific days in the week when you do not drink.
- If you spend all your money on drink, take out less cash, leave the credit cards at home.
- Before you go out, think about how you are going to get home. If you are in a group, designate a nondrinking driver. Otherwise, take a licensed taxi.
- Don’t drink in rounds as you’ll tend to drink more.
- Try not to go out too often with friends who drink heavily.
Stop Drinking On Your Own At Home
Learn how to control your drinking in the privacy of your own home without going to AA or expensive counseling with the Give up Alcohol Course.