Almost all of us will try alcohol at some point in our lives. However, how much we regularly drink can vary. Some of us can go weeks without touching alcohol. For others, a day without alcohol is a rarity. Eventually, too much alcohol can become a problem – but just when should you start to be wary of your consumption? This post delves more into the different levels of drinker, explaining which types are healthy and which types are unhealthy.
Infrequent drinkers are able to regularly go a week without the desire to drink. Some may only drink at special occasions – possibly even having less than 12 drinks per year.
According to a 2019 study at Drinkaware, 48% of adults reported drinking alcohol at least once per week. This means that about 52% of people fit the category of teetotal or infrequent drinker. This is undoubtedly the healthiest form of drinker.
Some people only drink in social situations. Such individuals are unlikely to drink alcohol at home unless guests are invited around.
Such behaviour is typically healthy. The only time this behaviour may be unhealthy is if you’re socialising almost every day or getting peer pressured to drink large amounts.
Moderate drinkers drink every week, but are able to stick within the recommended alcohol guidelines of 14 units per week. This equates to about 6 pints of beer or 6 medium glasses of wine.
Moderate drinkers may occasionally binge, but generally do not do it regularly enough to cause health problems. It’s important to keep moderate drinking in check as it can quickly turn into heavy drinking if exposed to certain triggers.
Binge drinkers may go several days without drinking, but when they do drink they drink a lot! Binge drinkers are likely to drink more than a recommended weekly amount in a single day – possibly even two or three times this amount. The intention is to drink as much as possible before they become too drunk/run out of money.
Binge drinking can increase the risk of health problems and may frequently lead to reckless behaviour, so it is something that needs to be tamed.
If you regularly drink more than 14 units per week, you may be classed as a heavy drinker. 32% of men and 16% of women fit into this category.
Heavy drinking is generally not healthy. It can increase your risk of developing various health problems – especially if other aspects of your lifestyle aren’t healthy. Most heavy drinkers are not alcoholics because they are not addicted, however it can easily progress to this if you regularly drink over 4 drinks per day.
Heavy drinking becomes alcoholism once you start exhibiting physical withdrawal symptoms. Alcoholics generally cannot go a day without a drink and may even drink secretively or feel guilty when drinking.
Some alcoholics are high-functioning, which means that they generally do not display any negative behaviours while drunk and are able to still handle the demands of day-to-day life. Some may even drink to self-medicate problems and may even seem to perform better when drunk. This type of alcoholism is sometimes viewed as not a problem, however it can still be a problem – you could be greatly increasing your risk of various health problems. Therapy options as found at The Awareness Centre could be worth exploring to try and overcome this alcoholism.
Self-destructive alcoholics similarly experience withdrawal symptoms and may drink secretively. However, their behaviour has much more obvious negative effects.
You may be classed as a self-destructive alcoholic if drinking causes you to ruin relationships with friends and family, neglect responsibilities like work and childcare, overspend money, engage in criminal behaviour or engage in dangerous behaviour. This post lists a few other signs of alcohol abuse and some tips on how to get help.