Alcohol consumption might seem harmless at times, especially when it’s occasional. A couple of beers with your friends or a glass of wine with dinner won’t harm anyone, right? But where do you draw the line and decide to quit drinking?
Heavy alcohol consumption is harmful physically and mentally. It takes a toll on your health, your energy, and your personal relationships. Although many people are capable of moderating their consumption, for others, quitting alcohol is the best bet—and safest.
Have you ever had one of those days when you asked yourself, “Am I drinking too much?” These tips and guidelines help you decide if giving up alcohol is the right decision for you and your health.
How Much Alcohol Is Too Much?
The first step to know if you need to quit drinking is to figure out how much you drink. When you drink a little too much, you risk becoming alcohol dependent. But even if you don’t develop an alcohol dependency, drinking can put your health and well-being at risk.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), these are the guidelines for alcohol consumption1:
For women: Up to 1 drink per day
For men: Up to 2 drinks per day
Binge drinking (Consuming alcohol on the same occasion, or within a couple of hours):
For women: Up to 4 drinks per day but less than 7 drinks a week
For men: Up to 5 drinks per day but less than 14 drinks a week
For women: More than 4 drinks a day, or binge drinking 2 or more times a week
For men: More than 5 drinks a day, or binge drinking 3 or more times a week
Binge drinking is low risk if you are sticking to the guidelines mentioned before. 25% of people who drink more than the recommended levels will develop alcohol issues. 2
Studies have proven that women develop alcohol dependency at lower levels of alcohol consumption than men. Therefore, the guidelines are lower for women.3
If you’re a heavy drinker, you should consider quitting alcohol—or lower it to low-risk consumption.
Drinking alcohol is not a black-and-white issue. Many people who go over the recommended guidelines never develop alcohol dependence. It’s important to be aware of how much you’re drinking and the reason why.
Why Should You Quit Drinking?
Besides the many health benefits of staying sober, there are other reasons that might be enough to quit drinking. Ask yourself these 5 questions to figure out if being sober is for you.
Have you tried cutting back on alcohol and you didn’t succeed?
While some people are capable of having a drink or two and stopping, this is not true for everyone. If one drink is enough to trigger another one (and another one), it often leads to heavy drinking.
If you tried lowering your consumption and found it difficult to keep your drinking down, it might be best to quit completely. Losing the ability and willpower to control how much you drink is a good reason to quit drinking.
If you are trying to quit drinking, these are some delicious alcohol alternatives to try.
Do you feel guilty after a night of drinking?
Sometimes hangovers are not only physical, but they can be moral too. Drinking alcohol can cause you to do and say things you wouldn’t say or do sober, and this brings regret the morning after.
If you often feel embarrassed after a night of binge drinking, quitting alcohol might be a good option for you. The “moral hangover” takes a toll on your mental health, making you feel bad about yourself. And it might lead to more drinking as a coping mechanism.
Do you drink as a coping mechanism?
The reasoning behind your drinking is key to know if you should quit alcohol. While some people drink because they like the flavor, or to relax after work, others use it as a way to get through the day.
Alcohol shouldn’t be your coping mechanism to deal with tough situations, or to be able to relax. There’s nothing wrong with having a drink after work, but if that’s the only way you can truly relax, it might lead to harmful drinking.
If you rely on alcohol, or feel physically compelled to drink, quitting might be best.
Do you hide your drinking habits?
If you have a drinking problem, denial can be the easy way out. And hiding your drinking habits or lying about how much you drink can mean you are in denial.
If you feel the need to lie about how much or how often you are drinking, it’s better to quit. You might feel like alcohol offers some kind of escape and you don’t want to give that up. But in reality, it might mean that you’re no longer in control of your drinking.
Alcohol takes a toll on your health, and you shouldn’t downplay the negative effects it’s having on you—and the people around you.
Lying about your consumption might lead to withdrawal from friends and family who have expressed concern. Quitting is your best bet.
Do you black out when drinking?
If you are waking up with that throbbing and too-familiar headache, disorientated, and not sure what happened the night before—you should consider cutting back or quitting altogether.
A few drinks is enough to impair your memory. This is especially true for women, who are more likely to experience blackouts than men.4
Blackouts can be dangerous, and even if it’s only small parts of the night you don’t remember, it means your alcohol consumption was heavy. If you are experiencing them, you should look into your relationship with alcohol.
To Quit or Not to Quit Drinking?
If you answered yes to most of the previous questions, seriously consider quitting alcohol. It might feel overwhelming at first, but there are many resources to help you cope with cravings and withdrawal symptoms. And after quitting, you’ll feel better than ever.
Ultimately, the decision is yours.
If you are ready to cut the cord and quit drinking, having supplements to support your journey is key for success.
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