When Does Drinking Become a Problem?

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By News Team on December 29, 2021

Many of us enjoy a drink with friends and family now and then, especially during the holiday season.

But as the new year dawns, and after nearly two years of living in a pandemic, you may be asking yourself, Has my drinking crossed over into something more serious?

In the video above, Carilion Clinic Family Medicine provider John Epling, M.D. discusses the risks and symptoms of problem drinking, and offers hope to those who want to change their drinking habits. Watch the video and read on for highlights.

Heavy drinking is defined as eight or more drinks per week for women or 15 for men; a drink is defined as a 12-ounce beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine or a 1.5 ounce shot of liquor.

Drinking too much can lead to serious health conditions, including:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Liver disease
  • Cancer

It can also increase your risk of:

  • Being in a car accident
  • Getting a sexually transmitted disease
  • Having an unplanned pregnancy

The amount you drink is only one indicator of whether you are drinking too much. Dr. Epling offers some warning signs to look out for:

  • If you drink more than you wanted to or planned to
  • If you can't quit drinking even when you want to
  • If you binge drink: four (for women) or five (for men) alcoholic drinks in less than a 2-hour sitting
  • If you are spending less time with family or friends
  • If you are skipping activities that you normally enjoy
  • If drinking takes up a lot of your time and energy

If any of these things describe your relationship with alcohol, Dr. Epling recommends talking to your health care provider about treatment options, says Dr. Epling. 
"The important thing is to reach out now if you think you might be drinking too much," he says. "It can make all the difference in your overall health and happiness, and your loved ones too."

Carilion Resources

Browse Carilion Living for other alcohol-related topics: 

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