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Can Social Drinking Impact My Health?

A group of people engaged in social drinking

Whether it’s a get-together with friends or a work lunch, alcohol use is considered to be a normal part of nearly every adult event. While it’s widely accepted, moderate drinking still comes with risks. Learn more about alcohol rehab in North Carolina by calling Insight Recovery Centers today at 828.826.1376.

How Is Moderate Social Drinking Defined?

If you’re concerned about your own alcohol consumption or that of a loved one, it can be difficult to define how much is too much. Social drinking technically means drinking in social situations, not at home alone. The term also implies drinking a moderate amount, not getting out of control, blacking out, or binge drinking.

Moderate drinking is typically considered to be up to one drink a day for a generally healthy man or woman. A “drink” means one 12-ounce serving of beer, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or a mixed drink that contains 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.

Occasionally, reports about the health benefits of moderate drinking make headlines. While there may possibly be some benefits to an occasional alcoholic drink, simply eating a healthy diet and exercising provide much greater benefits.

What Defines Heavy Drinking?

The Mayo Clinic shares a definition for heavy drinking for women and for men over 65 that includes imbibing more than three drinks within a single day or seven in a week. For men younger than 65, the definition is more than four drinks in a single day and more than 14 in a week. There are no health benefits to heavy or binge drinking.

A social drinker can also be a heavy drinker. The term “social drinker” typically refers to a person who drinks in a variety of social settings but does not allow the habit to disrupt their personal or work life.

Whether you are drinking alone or with others in a social setting, alcohol is still a toxin with the potential to harm your physical and mental health.

The Risks of Social Drinking

Even low levels of social drinking can increase your risk for a number of health problems. Some of the risks include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Some forms of cancer
  • Lowered cardiovascular health
  • Liver problems
  • More prone to accidents, including accidents that could harm someone else
  • Drunk driving
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women could endanger their babies’ health

Occasional heavy drinking comes with even more risks, including:

  • Sudden death from a cardiovascular disease
  • Heart muscle damage
  • Stroke
  • Brain damage
  • Pancreatitis
  • Alcohol withdrawal syndrome
  • Suicide

Individuals who are at a higher risk of developing an addiction due to family history or other factors may increase their risk by engaging in social drinking.

Understanding Binge Drinking

Some people are convinced they don’t have a drinking problem because they drink heavily but only occasionally. However, there are several more health risks associated with binge drinking.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define binge drinking as consuming four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men. Many of those who binge drink are not necessarily alcohol dependent, but they may be at a higher risk of developing an alcohol use disorder.

The risks associated with binge drinking include:

  • Violence, including sexual assault, homicide, and suicide
  • Risky behaviors, including risky sexual behavior
  • Chronic diseases, such as heart or liver disease
  • Cognitive problems
  • Cancer
  • Sudden infant death syndrome

Even when done during a social occasion, binge drinking increases your risk of physical and mental health complications.

Find Help for Problematic Drinking at Insight Recovery Centers

If you’re concerned about binge drinking, or if the amounts you drink during social occasions are getting larger, you may be at risk of developing an alcohol use disorder. Call Insight Recovery Centers at 828.826.1376 with questions about our treatment program.