Researchers know surprisingly little about the risks or benefits of moderate alcohol use in healthy adults. Almost all research on lifestyle, including diet, exercise, caffeine, and alcohol, relies on the patient’s accurate reporting and recall of their habits over many years. These studies may show that the two things may be related, but one need not cause the other. It may be that adults in good health engage in more social activities and consume moderate amounts of alcohol, but alcohol has nothing to do with making them healthier.
The potential benefits of alcohol are relatively minor and may not apply to all individuals. In fact, the latest dietary guidelines make it clear that no one should start drinking alcohol or drink it more often on the basis of its potential health benefits. For many people, the possible benefits do not outweigh the risks, and avoiding alcohol is the best course of action.
Heavy or high-risk drinking is defined as more than three drinks per day or more than seven drinks per week for women and men over 65, and more than four drinks per day or more than 14 drinks per week for men. 65 years and under.
Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks in two hours for women and five or more drinks within two hours for men.
Heavy drinking can increase your risk of serious health problems, including:
- Certain cancers, including breast cancer and cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and liver pancreatitis
- Sudden death if you already have cardiovascular disease
- Heart muscle damage leading to heart failure (alcoholic cardiomyopathy)
- High blood pressure
- Liver disease
- Serious injury or death from accident
- Brain damage and other problems in an unborn child
- Alcohol withdrawal syndrome
🖊 Make a plan
Before you start drinking, set a limit on how much you drink.
💸 Set a budget
Only take a fixed amount of money to spend on alcohol.
🔔 Notify them
If you let your friends and family know that you’re downsizing and it’s important to you, you can get support from them.
☀ Take one day at a time
Reduce a little each day. That way, every day you do is a success.
⏬ Make it smaller
You can still enjoy a drink, but opt for smaller sizes. Try a bottle of beer instead of a pint, or a small glass of wine instead of a large glass.
🥂 For a lower strength drink
Reduce alcohol by replacing strong beers or wines with lower strength (ABV in %). You will find this information on the bottle.
⏰ Take a break
Have a few drink-free days each week.
Benefits of shortening
Immediate effects of cutting include:
- feeling better in the morning
- being less tired during the day
- better looking skin
- feeling more energetic
- better weight
Long-term benefits include:
There is a strong link between excessive alcohol consumption and depression, and a hangover often makes you feel anxious and unhappy. If you’re already feeling anxious or sad, drinking can make it worse, so reducing it can put you in a better mood overall.
Drinking can affect your sleep. While it may help some people fall asleep quickly, it can disrupt your sleep patterns and stop you from deep sleep. Therefore, reducing alcohol will help you feel more rested when you wake up.
Drinking can affect your decision and behavior. You may act irrationally or aggressively when you are drunk. Memory loss can be a problem for heavy drinkers while drinking and regularly over the long term.
Prolonged heavy drinking can cause your heart to enlarge. This is a serious condition that cannot be completely reversed, but stopping drinking can prevent it from getting worse.
🦠 Immune system
Regular drinking can affect your body’s ability to fight infections. Heavy drinkers tend to get more infectious diseases.
Sources: NHS, CDC