Drinking In Moderation

Drinking has long had the stigma of being unhealthy both physically and socially. However, recent research has shown that drinking in moderation can have positive health benefits. If people reduce the amount of alcohol consumption to moderate levels, they are less likely to have severe health issues like liver disease and alcoholism. Furthermore, drinking in moderation can reduce the risk of heart disease.

It is possible to enjoy the social pleasure of having a drink with friends or family without becoming drunk. The key is not to either drink or abstain, but to learn the proper balancing point for you. This point of moderation is different for men and women. Knowing how to control your drinking habits, learning the proper consumption of alcohol for your body type, and staying abreast of the risks of alcohol, can have a positive impact on your life.

Quick Facts What is Drinking in Moderation? Health Benefits Alcohol Information Resources Help Resources

Drinking Quick Facts

  • Alcohol related consequences are the leading cause of teenage death and other youth problems such as: drinking and driving, suicide, sexual and physical aggression, and depression. (Marin Institute)
  • Three out of ten drivers will experience an alcohol related accident at some time in their life. (NHTSA)
  • Approximately 37,600 people died of alcohol related death in 2007. One third of these deaths were due to liver damage and the remaining two thirds were other causes excluding accidents and homicides. (NCHS)
  • An 8-ounce bottle of beer, a 5-ounce bottle of wine, and a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor all contain the same amount of alcohol. (CDC)
  • The only method of sobering up is time. Time allows the body to metabolize the alcohol in the bloodstream. The idea that drinking black coffee, taking a cold shower, or going for a run with help sober you up is a myth. (College Drinking Prevention)
  • Drinking alcohol before going to sleep is detrimental to sleep quality. While the alcohol may help you fall asleep, it will typically cause wakefulness later in the night. (Help Guide)
  • Moderate drinking is different for men and women. Men may consume up to two drinks per day while women should consume a maximum of one. (HSPH)
  • Moderate consumption of alcohol does not cause weight gain in men, and research has shown that it can even cause weight loss for women. Because alcohol consumption increases the metabolic rate and because the body does not use caloric energy in alcohol efficiently, alcohol may cause females to burn more calories than they consume if they drink in moderation. (Alcohol Problems and Solutions)

What is Drinking in Moderation?

Drinking in moderation means controlling your alcohol intake to a moderate amount. This means limiting the daily intake of alcohol intake as well as the weekly limit. Men can consume up to two servings of alcohol per day, while women and people over the age of sixty should not consume more than one drink per day and a maximum of seven drinks in a week. This does not mean that a person can save up their daily maximum and binge drink one night per week. Binge drinking is dangerous and can have severe side effects like alcohol poisoning. Binge drinking occurs for men after four drinks in a day, while it is more than three drinks per day for women. Consuming more than moderate drinking levels can reverse any health benefits received from drinking in moderation.

Drinking in moderation varies depending on your age and gender because of body size and rate of metabolism. Men have a larger body mass and faster metabolism than women, so they are able to consume twice as much alcohol. But all people over the age of sixty, regardless of gender, should keep their intake the same levels as women. Keeping alcohol consumption at moderate levels can help with relationship, family, and work issues as well as having direct health benefits.

Health Benefits of Drinking in Moderation

Moderate alcohol intake increases cardiovascular health. Because heart disease is a leading cause of adult death, moderate drinking can decrease an adult’s risk of death up to 25%.

Consuming one drink after a stressful day can help reduce stress. Stress has been shown to have direct negative health effects including cancer, depression, sleep disorders, heart disease, and anxiety. If consuming one drink will reduce stress, then it will also reduce the risk for the negative health effects of stress.

Moderate drinking can lower blood pressure. Blood pressure is caused by several factors, including stress and over consumption of alcohol. Moderate helps lower blood pressure by reducing stress and the over-consumption of alcohol.

Alcohol can have small increases in HDL cholesterol, the good kind of cholesterol. HDL cholesterol reduces clot formation and the risk of stroke. Exercising can also increase this type of cholesterol, as can prescription niacin.

Drinking alcohol can increase a person’s appetite. This is a benefit for people who have difficulty gaining or maintaining weight. But it can also be problematic for people who have difficulty losing weight.

The cardiovascular health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption is limited to people who are at low risk for heart disease. Because excessive drinking can increase the chances of heart disease, people at high risk are more likely to experience negative side effects than people at low risk.

Researchers at Yale University found that red wine has more health benefits than other types of alcohols because it has antioxidants from the grapes used to produce the wine. Additionally, red wine helps reduce the LDL cholesterol (the bad type) and increase lipid profiles following consumption of a meal.

Alcohol Information Resources

  • The American Heart Association provides information about the relation between wine consumption, antioxidants, HDL cholesterol, and the health of the human heart. While the AHA recognizes possible benefits of alcohol consumption, they provide alternative means to attain similar benefits, like eating fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants, or working out to increase HDL cholesterol.
  • DUI Laws provides information about the different Driving Under the Influence laws for every state. They also provide links to states that have recently changed their DUI laws.
  • Healthfinder provides information about drinking in moderation for people of all ages. It also provides resources to keep track of alcohol consumption and methods to control the urge to drink in excess.
  • Did you know that drinking while taking prescription anti-depressants can cause death? The Mayo Clinic explains how drinking can adversely affect a person who is depressed regardless of medication. Alcohol is a natural depressant and can exacerbate a person’s state of depression.
  • Medline Plus provides basic information, research, issues related to alcohol, and research and references that can help educate you about the risks and benefits of alcohol consumption.
  • Binge drinking, the consumption of several glasses of alcohol in a short period of time, occurs most frequently in adolescents between the ages of 18-22. The National Clearing House for Alcohol and Drug Information provides statistics for binge drinking in college age students. There are many consequences of binge drinking, including alcohol poisoning and physically aggressive behavior.
  • The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence provides nutritional guidelines about alcohol. The NCADD recommends drinking in moderation and explains that pregnant women, minors, people on prescription medications, people who plan to drive, and people who have difficulty drinking in moderation should avoid alcohol consumption of any amount.
  • Despite common knowledge that drinking while pregnant causes serious birth defects, the Center for Disease Prevention has found that 1 in 8 women still consume alcohol while pregnant. Drinking while pregnant can cause illnesses that include fetal alcohol syndrome, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, various birth defects and low birth weight. NIAAAoffers information about the detrimental effects of consuming alcohol while pregnant.
  • The National Institute on Aging focuses on alcohol concerns specifically for the aging population. The effects of alcohol can be more dangerous for an older person than for youth because they are already at higher risks for diseases and health conditions like high blood pressure, stroke, and memory loss.
  • The United States Department of Labor offers information to employers on how to deal with alcohol and substance abuse in the workplace. Tips about how to screen, what to screen for, and what the laws are about screening are available in addition to tips on handling substance abuse in the workplace.

Help Resources

  • Adult Children of Alcoholics provides meeting places for adults grew up in alcoholic homes. ACA focuses on the twelve-step program and helps people to understand how their childhood experiences influences adult life.
  • Al-Anon/Al-Ateen is an organization for spouses, parents, children, and friends of alcoholics. This website is available in English, French, and Spanish. You can call their toll-free 24-hour hotline at 1-888-4AL-ANON 1-888-4AL-ANON 888-426-2666
  • Alcohol Screening provides a comprehensive questionnaire to help you discover whether you are in an at risk category for alcohol related problems. Not only do they help you discover whether your drinking habits are problematic, but they also offer tips and resources for people who discover that they are high risk.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous is a non-profit organization that provides group meetings and member support for people who struggle with alcoholism and want to take control of their life choices. This website provides information about alcoholism, and how to find the support groups and information for alcoholics.
  • The American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry offers a list of addiction psychologists for people who seek psychiatric help for alcohol or other concerns of substance abuse.
  • Drug Rehabs offers a national drug abuse hotline to speak with an intervention counselor. An intervention counselor is a trained professional who will work with family and friends of a person in need of an alcohol or substance related intervention. This toll-free hotline 1-877-437-8422 is available 24-hours a day.
  • Girls Help is a government-sponsored resource for teenage girls to learn about alcohol and other substance abuse problems. It provides information about the health effects of alcohol consumption as well as tips to turn down drinks and avoid peer pressure. This website also talks about other health information like nutrition, relationships, bullying, fitness, feelings, the future, safety, the body, and illness & disability.
  • MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, offers a support line 1-877-MADD-HELP 877-623-3435 as well as an online chat room for victims and survivors of drunk driving incidents.
  • Moderation Management has a variety of resources for people concerned with their alcohol consumption. They provide online and offline group support as well as a variety of tools to help reduce or abstain from alcohol consumption.
  • The National Drug and Treatment Referral and Routing Service offers a toll-free phone number 1-800-662-HELP(4357) to locate treatment facilities and information for alcohol or substance abuse situations.
  • The National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism provides a resource for people who are family members of Alcoholics. Research shows that people related to alcoholics are more susceptible to adverse effects of alcohol. This resource explains these connections and provides additional outside resources.
  • The NIAAA offers a resource for medicines known to cause negative health effects when combined with alcohol. This resource explains some side effects of mixing pharmaceutical medications with alcohol, as well as some outside resources for other alcohol related concerns.
  • NIDA for Teens teaches teens about the science of drug and alcohol abuse. This website includes various informational resources including suggestions on how to get involved with the community to educate teens. NIDA for Teens also offers a resource center for parents and teachers.
  • Stop Underage Drinking is a Federal resource that provides information for parents, teachers, peers, and other community members to recognize and prevent alcohol use and abuse by minors. This site provides ideas for educating and intervening with youth and it provides resources for medical facilities that can be reached, including emergency services.
  • The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administrationprovides a substance abuse treatment facility locator in the United States. All you need is a zip code or city and state to find a treatment facility near you.