Drug and Alcohol - Trends and Statistics

Am I Drinking Too Much? 5 Signs You Might Be


When we talk about a drink, what are we really saying? It’s not easy to tell. The alcohol content in beer, wine, and distilled drinks can vary wildly

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Drug and Alcohol

Trends and Statistics

August 19, 2021

Quick: What’s the best thing for a hangover?

Drinking heavily the night before.

It’s a dumb joke, but an accurate one. For most people, drinking a lot will usually result in them being sorry they did so the next morning. A gross mouth, headache, maybe even a quick call on the porcelain phone adds up to one thing: a hangover.

In general, that’s where things end. Aspirin, plenty of water, something to soothe the stomach, maybe a promise to ourselves we’ll never do that again and that’s it. Until next time, anyway.

Here’s a good question anyone who’s ever been hungover should remember to ask themselves the next time they wake up wishing they hadn’t:

How did I get here?

Everyone knows drinking too much is the ideal recipe for a hangover but figuring out how much actually earns you one is another matter entirely. Alcohol tolerance can be a tricky thing to judge, involving everything from gender to body size and genetics.

(FYI: It’s also a warning sign.)

Equally tricky is determining when we’ve had too much in one night or are engaged in alcohol abuse. A hangover is one thing, but doesn’t everybody get them once in a while? With all the talk about the warning signs and dangers of alcoholism, you’d think it would be easier to determine whether or not a person had a problem aside from the occasional rough morning.

Duly noted. So, let’s start where a lot of hangovers start: a drink.

How Much Is Too Much?

When we talk about “a drink,” what are we really saying?

It’s not easy to tell. The alcohol content in beer and wine can vary wildly, as it can in distilled beverages like vodka and bourbon. This is to say nothing about the variety of serving glasses used at restaurants and bars.

In general, researchers and various agencies rely on the idea of a “standard drink.” The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism qualifies a standard drink as:

  • 12 ounces of regular, 5% alcohol by volume (ABV) beer. For stronger beer, like a 7% IPA for example, it’s 8 ounces. Also, there’s 16 ounces in a pint.

  • 5 ounces of wine, which is usually around 12%.

  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirit like vodka, typically 40% (80 proof).

With that established, let’s look to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) definition of excessive drinking, which includes binge drinking, heavy drinking, underage drinking and drinking by pregnant women.

For binge drinking, the CDC defines the amounts as:

  • 4 or more drinks during a drinking session for women

  • 5 or more drinks during a drinking session for men

As for heavy drinking, the CDC says 8 or more drinks in a week qualifies for women; for men, it’s 15 or more.

That’s the hard data … but hard data only goes so far.


So, Do I Have A Problem or What? 5 Ways to Know You Might Have A Drinking Problem

Let’s face it, keeping a checklist of how much alcohol you’re consuming when you’re out and about with friends looks kind of strange. Unfortunately, given alcohol’s effects on the nervous system it’s very easy to fall into a trap of drinking excessively, and over time that’s a path into dependence, addiction and even death.

There are ways to tell when you’ve had too much … or are having too much on the regular. Here’s five signs you may be developing a problem:

  • Your friends are noticing: There’s a difference between being “the fun one” in your group …  and the person your friends are nervous about being around. If a friend tells you to take it easy or maybe cut back a little, that’s probably good advice.

  • You crave alcohol: Looking forward to kicking back with a drink during a busy day at work is fine; being unable to think about anything else other than the carrot of alcohol dangling at the end of it is something else.

  • You can’t have a good time without it: A drink or two during a party or other event is fine. Thinking a party is boring, a night out is a failure, or you can’t enjoy an activity without alcohol is a major red flag.

  • The morning after is getting serious: If you’re having problems at work because you overdid it last night, you’re making bad choices. And with excessive drinking, bad choices stack up.

  • You’re blacking out: Blackouts are when things get serious. If you can’t remember the stuff you did the night/day/weekend before, you’re not only overdoing it, you’re likely causing real damage to yourself. It’s a great idea to seek professional help.

Feel Like You’re Losing Control?

Addiction to any drug – and yes, alcohol is a drug – can creep up on you, making you feel helpless and trapped.

You’re not! Alcohol use disorders are treatable with the right professional help. The Edge Treatment Center’s holistic approach is the ideal solution for anyone suffering with addiction, mental disorders, or both. Our dynamic community of care is the ideal starting place for a healthier, happier life free from substance abuse.

Talk to an expert today!

CTA background

We’re Here to Help You Find Your Way

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, there is hope. Our team can guide you on your journey to recovery. Call us today.