A whopping 1 out of 6 Americans drinks too much. Here is how to tell if you—or someone you love—is overdoing it.
You rarely turn down wine with dinner, not to mention that second (or third) cocktail at happy hour—but that doesn't make you a binge drinker, does it? It depends, but according to a new report by the CDC, an exploding number of Americans are in the drinking danger zone—and they aren't always who you'd think.
More than 38 million adults binge drink an average of four times a month, according to a the report, and while 18 to 34 year olds are more likely to go overboard than any other age group, it’s actually the over-65 set that does it most often. Tying one on now and then may seem harmless, but overindulging in alcohol is responsible for more than 80,000 deaths in this country per year, and is the third leading cause of preventable deaths.
So how much alcohol means you’re overdoing it? For women, binge drinking means having four or more drinks in a short period of time, compared to five or more for men.
Most people who binge drink don’t fit the definition of an alcoholic, but there aren’t just two camps of drinkers, say experts: Many of us are somewhere in between. To find out where you fall on the problem-drinking spectrum, read on for these surprising signs you may be drinking too much.
You become a daredevil.
Anyone who’s seen their normally shy co-worker dancing on the bar at the company party knows drinking can lower inhibitions. Getting drunk can come with repercussions far worse than feeling embarrassed—it can lead to risky decisions. “Drinking too much on just one occasion can change your life for the worse,” says Gregory A. Smith, MD, an addiction specialist at the Comprehensive Pain Relief Group in Los Angeles. Alcohol is also a factor in approximately 60% of fatal burn injuries and drownings, 40% of fatal falls and car accidents, and half of all sexual assaults, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
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