Drinking alcoholic beverages is an activity that the human race has engaged in almost since the beginning of their existence. While such action has and does not always result in situations that are detrimental to the individual and society as a whole, excessive drinking still hurts everyone affected.
What begins as a single drink or a simple custom often develops into a habit and habits can develop into full-fledged addictions. The lines between the reasons for drinking and the frequency thereof are often be blurred. Where they fall on the continuum of consumption is one of the most challenging things for alcoholics to be self-aware about.
In the United States when someone says that they have just had “one drink” that often refers to a standard measure of about .6 ounces of pure alcohol. Different types of drinks have a different amount of alcohol relative to their volume. Drinking a single glass of whiskey or vodka, for instance, may have the effect of several bottles of beer.
Many people have developed the habit of moderate drinking. This usually refers to having one or two drinks (as discussed above) a day. This is seen as semi-normal. A glass of wine at meals or a single beer with friends after work is a quasi American institution. However harmless this type of activity appears, the danger of such socially approved habits is that they will develop into something more serious.
Generally accepted as excessive alcohol consumption and bordering on full alcoholism is anyone that practices binge drinking. Binge drinking consists of drinking more than five drinks in a single sitting. Having eight to fifteen drinks over the course of a week is known as heavy drinking. Both of these levels are dangerous because they lead to alcohol dependency.
This dependency on alcohol, or any substance, is the root of addiction. A very complex subject, addiction is a disease that affects the brain. The main symptom is compulsive use of a substance even though the user may know that it will negatively affect them. For alcoholics, this may mean that the numbing or the feelings of strength that can be felt while your brain demands inebriated. Alcohol is the number one abused substance for obtaining specific mental effects.
You can determine your level of dependence on alcohol by determining how often you drink and why. If you fall into the category of excessive or binge drinking and you do so to feel the effects of alcohol, then you may be an alcoholic even if you do not frequently see the adverse effects of your drinking.
Tolerances can be built up over time to alcohol. That means that you may need to drink more and more as time progresses. This can lead to a false sense of security. You may feel that you can drink a substantial amount safely, but the health risks manifest themselves at the same rates regardless of how you feel based on a certain number of drinks.