The word “Heavy Drinker” covers a wide variety of disorders, and it’s rare for two people’s drinking habits and the consequences they cause to be defined in the same way. “Heavy drinking” is a perplexing word because it may refer to binge drinking or a chronic drinking condition, and it is sometimes used interchangeably with the term “alcoholic” by others. Are we, therefore, alcoholics or heavy drinkers? Is it true that all alcoholics consume a lot of alcohol?
Heavy Consumption of Alcohol
While most alcoholics consume excessive amounts of alcohol, it’s not every heavy drinker that’s an alcoholic. Binge drinkers, for instance, are described as individuals who consume 4(for women) or 5 (for men) drinks in less than two hours. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in every six Americans binge drinks, and those that binge drink ingest at least eight glasses per binge-like four times in a month (CDC). Although many Americans engage in this activity daily, it is not safe. Unintentional and deliberate accidents, various cardiovascular diseases, liver disease, and neurological damage are all linked to heavy Drinkers.
Alcoholism is described by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as follows:
- Tolerance: One of the hallmarks of alcoholism is the need to keep drinking more to feel buzzed or intoxicated.
- Physical dependence: Most heavy drinkers learn that if they don’t have a certain amount of alcohol in their bodies, they can experience withdrawal effects and detox.
- Temptations: Furthermore, many heavy drinkers crave alcohol when they aren’t drinking and can’t stop dreaming about having a drink until they have one in their mouth.
What’s the Difference Between a Heavy Drinker and An Alcoholic?
Alcohol Awareness Week aims to get people talking about alcohol in terms of health hazards, social issues, and how alcohol is ubiquitous in society. Several drug practitioners have written papers about the various harmful consequences of alcohol and dependence as part of Priory’s advocacy for alcohol awareness. The change from being heavy drinkers to alcoholism is examined in this article by Ross Hoar, the Lead Therapist at Priory Hospital Southampton. Even if you don’t have an alcohol problem, heavy drinking daily may have significant long-term consequences for your health.
In essence, alcoholism is described as a dependency in which you experience withdrawal symptoms if you do not drink alcohol regularly. Many people may still go to work or go about their daily lives, but as the addiction’s symptoms take root, issues begin to emerge.
Before addiction takes root, there is a period of being a heavy drinker. You prefer to drink even though it creates issues in your relationships, work, and finances. It’s essential to seek treatment before problem drinking turns into an addiction.
What Are the Classic Symptoms?
What is the concept of heavy drinkers? It’s consuming more than three drinks a day or seven a week for women. It’s four or more a day or 14 a week for guys. You’re at risk if you drink more than the regular or weekly max. That isn’t the only way to determine whether you or someone you care for needs assistance. There are a few more red flags to be aware of. You could:
- Declare that you are a heavy Drinker or make a joke about it.
- Not being able to keep up with essential commitments at home, at work, or school.
- You can lose friendships or have relationship issues by being a heavy drinker, but you do not stop drinking.
- Had legal problems with alcohol, such as a DUI arrest?
- To relax or feel safe, alcohol is needed.
- When you’re alone or in the morning, drink.
- When you aren’t planning on getting drunk, do so.
- Forget about what you did when you were drinking.
- When asked about drinking, deny it, conceal it, or become enraged.
- Let your loved ones worry about your drinking or make excuses for it.
Because of known variations in how alcohol is consumed, distributed, and removed from the body, the limits vary for men and women. Men who are heavy drinkers of more than four standard drinks in a day (or more than fourteen in a week) are at higher risk; women have a lower limit of three drinks a day (7 drinks in a week).
Heavy drinkers are almost often embarrassed or defensive about their drinking, which is one of the reasons why this prevalent issue goes undetected or unaddressed so much. As a result, primary care doctors also set aside time during a visit to educate patients about alcohol risks.
The single question about a heavy drinker’s drinking habits is just as good as slightly more informative questions like the CAGE questions as a screening test. However, since they may be unable to ask direct questions about quantity, these may be easier for interested family members and friends to request.
Effects of Alcohol
According to Benton, functional heavy drinkers may appear to be in control, but they may endanger themselves or others by drinking and driving, having unsafe sexual experiences, or blacking out.
There are numerous other dangers heavy drinkers are associated with. It may cause liver disease, pancreatitis, cancer, brain injury, severe memory loss, and high blood pressure, among other things. It also increases the chances of dying in a car accident and murder or suicide. Domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, and fetal alcohol syndrome are all increased by alcohol abuse.
- Damage to the Liver: Alcohol is a poison, and your liver’s role is to remove it from your system. However, if you are a heavy drinker, your liver can not keep up. Alcohol can destroy liver cells and cause cirrhosis, a scarring condition. Long-term heavy drinkers can have fatty liver disease, which is a sign that your liver isn’t working as well as it should.
- Heart Problems: You should be aware of blood clot risks and high fat and cholesterol levels in your body. All of these things are more likely when you drink. According to studies, heavy drinkers are often more likely to have problems pumping blood to their hearts and may have a higher risk of dying from heart failure.
- Problems with the Nervous System and the Brain: The signaling processes in the brain are affected by alcohol. It becomes more challenging to think and talk, remember things, make choices, and move your body due to this. Heavy drinkers can also get mental illnesses such as depression and dementia. You could suffer from debilitating nerve damage that lasts even after you sober up.
- Anemia: This occurs when your body does not produce enough healthy red blood cells to transport oxygen across your body. Ulcers, inflammation and other problems may result from this. Being a heavy Drinker can make you more likely to miss meals, depriving your body of iron.
- Cancer: Heavy drinkers have been linked to having a variety of cancers. The cells in your mouth, throat, voice box, and esophagus may be damaged by alcohol. It can cause cancers of the liver, breast, and intestines. Alcohol will make it easier for cancer-causing chemicals from tobacco and other sources to reach your cells.
Cutting Back Techniques
Finally, it would help heavy drinkers if they considered your drinking’s benefits and drawbacks. Take some time to think about improving their drinking relationship might positively affect your life.
Is it something that will help your wellbeing, relationships, or career? Would you like to lose weight, increase your productivity, or save money? Consider the reasons why you may be hesitant to not be a heavy Drinker.
Suppose you believe you are a heavy drinker about cutting back or quitting. In that case, the NIAAA has several resources and tools to help, including a test to decide if you are drinking too much and a guide for setting personal goals. The following are a few of the NIAAA’s suggestions on how to stop being a Heavy Drinker:
- Make a drinking schedule. Determine may require days of the week you can and cannot drink, as well as the number of drinks you can consume on those days.
- Don’t load up on alcoholic beverages. Purchase just what you need based on your personal drinking goals.
- Slowly sip your beverage. Make sure you only have one drink every hour. Drinking a full glass of water in between drinks will also help you cut back on your intake.
- Make it a habit to say no. If you want to cut down on your alcohol, you’ll probably have to say no to a drink now and then. It will be easier to stick to your commitment if you have a respectful, compelling “no thanks” ready.
- Look for healthier options. Replace your time drinking or recovering from drinking with new sports and hobbies.
Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorders
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a non-profit organization that provides treatment for people. The need for medication is one of the main distinctions between alcoholics and heavy drinkers. The majority of alcoholics will benefit the most from an inpatient alcohol recovery program that includes medical detox and long-term outpatient therapy. Heavy drinkers, on the other hand, can need a variety of alcohol treatment services, depending on the following factors:
- Their desire to self-control their alcohol consumption or abstain from being a heavy Drinker.
- The essence of the consequences they face as a result of their drinking decisions
- If they are dealing with co-occurring mental health problems or not
- If they ever drive after drinking or cause harm to others when drunk.
Environmental or underlying factors may make even a few drinks a significant issue for heavy drinkers. It’s time to seek treatment if it causes some dangerous activity or if moderation is difficult on your own. Alcoholism treatment is available in a variety of forms. Call us today at the number above to speak with one of our admissions coordinators about which programs are suitable for heavy drinkers situation.
Ben Lesser is one of the most sought-after experts in health, fitness and medicine. His articles impress with unique research work as well as field-tested skills. We are honored to have Ben writing exclusively for Dualdiagnosis.org.