Mental Health

When Is It Too Much?

Understand the difference between enjoying alcohol responsibly and relying on it in an unhealthy way.

Drinking too much in one evening can result in a variety of negative consequences, including moodiness, poor judgment, and trouble with coordination and vision. Continuing this habit for a sustained period of time can lead to life altering consequences, such as alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis of the liver, difficulty learning and loss of memory.

“While you may initially seek out alcohol at social gatherings to reduce unpleasant, anxious feelings, you may be contributing to a greater health issue,” said Bernard Davidson, Psychologist and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Health Behavior at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. “This is particularly true if you, or others, notice alcohol interfering in any manner with your work, social or emotional life.”

Warning Signs

Binge drinking, or drinking excessively in one sitting, can increase the risk of alcohol poisoning. This dangerous occurrence can result in permanent brain damage or possibly death, so knowing the warning signs is critical.

Symptoms that someone is experiencing alcohol poisoning include confusion, hypothermia, irregular breathing, nausea, unconsciousness and vomiting. If you notice these signs of alcohol poisoning, emergency intervention may be necessary.

Problematic alcohol consumption may not always look as dramatic as alcohol poisoning, which is why people who are dependent on alcohol may have difficulty recognizing that they need help. However, alcoholism or alcohol dependence is a disease that needs to be addressed by an addiction specialist.

If you crave alcohol, cannot stop drinking once you start or become anxious when you are not drinking, talk to someone who can offer support. Without the proper intervention, alcohol dependence can destroy your health and your relationships.

“If you find yourself continuing to increase the amount of alcohol you consume to feel good or if you feel ill when not consuming any it’s often best to speak with your health care provider, as a planned and safe reduction is often best achieved in collaboration,” Davidson said.

Serving Sizes

To ensure that the amount of alcohol you consume is within healthy limits, follow the guidelines set forth by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Specifically, men should have no more than two drinks per day and women should have no more than one.

For more information about behavioral health or to schedule an appointment with someone who can help answer questions about alcohol consumption and alcoholism, call 706-721-6597 or visit augustahealth.org/behavioral-health.

About the author

Augusta University Health

Augusta University Health

Based in Augusta, Georgia, Augusta University Health is a world-class health care network, offering the most comprehensive primary, specialty and subspecialty care in the region. Augusta University Health provides skilled, compassionate care to its patients, conducts leading-edge clinical research and fosters the medical education and training of tomorrow’s health care practitioners. Augusta University Health is a not-for-profit corporation that manages the clinical operations associated with Augusta University.