April 19th, 2016 | ASAH Team
The drastic effects of excessive alcohol consumption are known to all. But the biggest question is – “how much is too much”. No one knows where to draw the line when it comes to heavy drinking. A 2016 study published in the journal Addiction tries to look for an answer to this age-old question. It says that each country has its own guidelines to define heavy drinking and that there are many others who have still not pondered over this.
For the study, the researchers reviewed 75 countries estimated to furnish low-risk drinking guidelines as compared to other countries. In fact, their “standard drinking” practices were also expected to be subdued. Of these, only 37 percent came forward with the said guidelines and standard drinking practices, which were alarmingly skewed.
A standard drink was found to fluctuate by 250 percent, ranging from 8 g in Iceland and the U.K. to 20 g in Austria. Pointing at the drinking trend in conservative nations, the researchers noted that such countries allow a low-risk drinking pattern, in which women can indulge in no more than 10 g of pure ethanol per day, while men can drink as much as 20 g.
In countries like Australia, Canada, Denmark, Fiji, France, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, and the U.K., all celebrations are incomplete without being involved in heavy drinking. And in countries like Australia, Grenada, Portugal, and South Africa, there are no separate low-risk drinking guidelines for men and women, a trend that is being closely followed by the U.K. with its new guidelines, according to which both men and women enjoy an equal status when it comes to drinking.
Keith Humphreys, co-author of the study, said, “If you think your country should have a different definition of a standard drink or low-risk drinking, take heart – there’s probably another country that agrees with you.”
Looking at the standard drinks defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), the researchers claimed that the number stands at 10 g of alcohol for both men and women, who are also advised not to cross the limit of the specified two standard drinks per day. Despite this being a norm in most countries, a majority of these – as much as 50 percent – don’t adhere to these guidelines.
It is important to standardize the drinking pattern in individuals and countries at large, to help them control their drinking habit, after recognizing the associated risks. Such guidelines help one understand the need to overcome the risks associated with heavy drinking that can lead to severe mental and physical deformities, including heart defects and cancer. In certain situations, for example, in cases where it is difficult to decide whether to drink or not, these guidelines can be helpful in setting limits and preventing risks of injuries and other health issues.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), “standard drinking” in the U.S. is nearly 14 g of alcohol equivalent to 12 ounces of beer and 5 ounces of wine. As per the standards set by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), heavy drinking can be defined as consuming five drinks or more for men on a particular occasion and four for women.
A 2014 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed the alarming statistics of alcohol-related deaths, which reached as high as nearly 88,000 in the U.S. annually. According to the WHO, nearly 3.3 million people die owing to excessive alcohol use, representing a whopping 5.9 percent of all deaths. Alcohol is the leading cause of over 200 diseases and injuries.
If you or your loved one is battling alcoholism, or any other substance use disorder, seek medical help immediately. The Arizona Substance Abuse Helpline can help you find the best treatment depending on the situation. Chat online with one of our experts today, or call at 866-857-5777 for more information.