The number of alcoholic drinks a person consumes per week can be a sign of alcohol misuse.
Organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) states that any amount of alcohol a person consumes can have
Experts define levels of alcohol use by the number of drinks a person consumes per day and week. These levels include moderate drinking, binge drinking, and heavy drinking.
This article explains how many drinks per week doctors consider to be alcohol misuse. It also discusses heavy drinking and alcohol use disorder.
People used to refer to alcohol use disorder (AUD) as alcoholism, and the people with it as alcoholics. Experts have increasingly seen these terms as negative and unhelpful labels. Today, instead of people being alcoholics, professionals refer to them as people with AUD.
The CDC define moderate drinking as 1 drink or less per day for females and 2 drinks or less per day for males.
In the United States, organizations consider a “standard drink” to be about
|Type of drink||Alcohol percentage||Measurement|
|Beer||about 5%||12 fluid oz|
|Malt liquor or flavored malt beverage (hard seltzer, etc.)||about 7%||8–10 fluid oz|
|Table wine||about 12%||5 fluid oz|
|Fortified wine (port, sherry)||about 17%||3–4 fluid oz|
|Cordial liquor||about 24%||2–3 fluid oz|
|Brandy or Cognac||about 40%||1.5 fluid oz|
|Distilled spirits (vodka, whiskey, gin, rum, etc.)||about 40%||1.5 fluid oz|
There are certain circumstances where a person should not drink at all. These include:
- being pregnant
- being under the legal age
- planning to drive or driving
- participating in activities that require alertness, coordination, and skill
- taking medications that may interact negatively with alcohol
Patterns of heavy drinking can put a person at a
It is important to note that many people who drink heavily or excessively do not have AUD or a dependence on alcohol. However, this behavior can increase the risk of developing either of these.
Heavy drinking may increase a person’s risk of short- and long-term health issues, such as:
Heavy drinking and binge drinking may also increase the chances of:
- car accidents
- memory blackouts
- overdose-related deaths
For many people, consuming alcohol, even heavy consumption, does not pose an issue. However, for around 18 million people in the U.S., it leads to the development of AUD.
AUD is characterized by alcohol consumption that causes distress and harm in a person’s life. It can range from mild to severe.
AUD can cause the following:
- Cravings: These are strong urges or need to drink.
- Loss of control: This is the inability to stop drinking alcohol once a person starts.
- Negative emotional state: This includes feeling irritable and anxious when a person is not able to drink.
If a person feels their alcohol consumption may have become an issue in their life, they can contact a healthcare or mental health professional. These professionals can help provide advice and treatment options.
Individuals and family members may also reach out to support organizations that can help with recovery from AUD and other drinking-related issues. These include:
The following are some questions people frequently ask about alcohol use and its effects.
What are the 5 ‘A’s of alcohol use?
The “5 ‘A’s” are guidelines that healthcare professionals
What does alcohol do to your body after 40?
As a person ages, they
Current guidelines encourage people not to drink any alcohol. Any alcohol consumption can have negative effects on a person’s health. However, experts encourage people who choose to drink alcohol to do so in moderation.
Alcohol misuse includes binge drinking, heavy drinking, and drinking while pregnant or under the legal age.
Not everyone who excessively consumes alcohol has alcohol use disorder (AUD). However, heavy and binge drinking can increase a person’s risk of developing this condition.
If a person believes their alcohol consumption has begun to cause distress or harm in their life, they can speak with a healthcare or mental health professional or contact a support organization.