It directly influences the stomach, brain, heart, gallbladder, and liver. It affects levels of lipids and insulin in the blood, as well as inflammation and coagulation. Moderate drinking can be healthy—but not for everyone. Medical News Today has strict sourcing guidelines and draws only from peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical journals and associations. Can You Moderate Your Drinking We link primary sources — including studies, scientific references, and statistics — within each article and also list them in the resources section at the bottom of our articles. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy. When it comes to drinking alcohol and expecting a health benefit, moderation is the key.

What, if anything you decide to do about your drinking is always up to you. Whilst this may seem counterintuitive, try drinking your vodka, whisky, rum, or other spirit of choice neat. Drinking spirits in a cocktail makes them easier to down, so not the best choice if you’re trying to moderate your drinking. We answer all of these questions and more in our how-to article for moderate drinking. This Finnish proverb can be applied to many things in life but particularly holds true when it comes to alcohol consumption.

  • This means you may be consuming more alcohol than you think.
  • Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, agrees with that assessment.
  • Eat before and during your drinking.Having food in your stomach slows the absorption of alcohol and can reduce the level of intoxication you feel.
  • However, if you do find yourself out with heavy drinkers, try having a club soda with lime in your hand so you can skip the next round and deflect unwanted attention.

Some heavy drinkers who’ve experienced problems from their drinking can learn how to moderate their drinking. They can maintain moderate drinking for years at a time. Drinkers with a shorter history of problems and less severe problems tend to be more successful with cutting back and maintaining it. (We’ll cover this in more depth later in the series.) Drinkers who believe that alcoholism is a bad habit rather than a disease tend to do better with moderation.

What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?

Another woman nearly started to cry when talking about issues with her son, her marriage, and her stressful job. She said the only thing getting her through was the bottle of wine she drinks every night.

Eat before and during your drinking.Having food in your stomach slows the absorption of alcohol and can reduce the level of intoxication you feel. Be sure to avoid salty snacks, which will make you thirsty. Twin, family, and adoption studies have firmly established that genetics plays an important role in determining an individual’s preferences for alcohol and his or her likelihood for developing alcoholism. Alcoholism doesn’t follow the simple rules of inheritance set out by Gregor Mendel. Instead, it is influenced by several genes that interact with each other and with environmental factors. Studies have shown that females begin having alcohol-related problems at lower levels of alcohol consumption than males.

  • AHD is a chemical that breaks down alcohol in the liver.
  • Write it down so you can revisit it if you start to doubt yourself or lose confidence in your ability to achieve your goal.
  • Consequently, inaccurate information could result in suboptimal treatment.
  • A “no” can also be communicated as an “instead of.” Instead of hanging out at a bar, why not take up another type of social activity?

Research conducted using each perspective seeks slightly different information from study participants. Because different research traditions have different focuses, each tradition emphasizes different research questions, which may be hard to compare across studies. On the one hand, this diversity can be advantageous in that the four disciplines complement each other in revealing drinking patterns and problems. On the other hand, the variability also can be a handicap, because the information collected about alcohol consumption often is not comparable across studies. For example, one survey may ask questions in a way that permits a diagnosis of alcohol dependence. Another study, however, may ask questions about alcohol consumption and alcohol problems without including specific diagnostic criteria, and thus a diagnosis cannot be made.

It’s safe to say that alcohol is both a tonic and a poison. Moderate drinking seems to be good for the heart and circulatory system, and probably protects against type 2 diabetes and gallstones. Heavy drinking is a major cause of preventable death in most countries. In the U.S., alcohol is implicated in about half of fatal traffic accidents. Heavy drinking can damage the liver and heart, harm an unborn child, increase the chances of developing breast and some other cancers, contribute to depression and violence, and interfere with relationships. He also explains that the potential benefits are poorly studied and that the possible long-term benefits are outweighed by the more immediate health problems caused by binge drinking.

Mindful Moderate Drinkinghow To Drink Less, Enjoy It More, And Reduce The Risks

Survey researchers have discovered that more questions may lead to higher consumption estimates, which are generally considered to be more accurate. In diary methods, participants record each drink consumed over a given timeframe (e.g., 1 week), ideally shortly after consumption. Researchers have recently introduced an automated variation of the diary method.

Can You Moderate Your Drinking

He specializes in LGBTQ, trauma and relationship issues. Drink slowly.Try drinking for taste rather than effect. Avoid “rounds” with friends and try not to consume more than one drink per hour. A monthly update filled with nutrition news and tips from Harvard experts—all designed to help you eat healthier.

Terms Of Use

In their view, drinkers that are able to cut back without abstaining are not alcoholics because they haven’t become powerless over alcohol. While that conclusion may seem stark to people who have come to feel virtuous about their nightly glass of wine, Mozaffarian says it’s actually not so different from current medical advice. MORE ON STUDY METHODS The Whitehall II study began in 1985 and followed participants for approximately 30 years.

Can You Moderate Your Drinking

Cutting back may not be easy and some people who drink heavily are better off avoiding alcohol completely. But if your techniques don’t seem to be working, consider getting support. You may benefit from the help of an addiction treatment program, a therapist that deals with addictions, or by attending an AA meeting in your area. If you already drink alcohol or plan to begin, keep it moderate—no more than 2 drinks a day for men or 1 drink a day for women.

A heavy drinker who is moderating their drinking will typically feel like they are breaking a bad habit. If the attempt doesn’t feel like dieting or exercise, it’s probably not an honest attempt. However, once we adhere to a new behavioral principle for a significant period of time, we tend to re-habituate. The person who drank alcohol daily but now abstains during the week may eventually stop thinking about alcohol during the week. The person who binged on the weekends but now drinks moderately may eventually get accustomed to that change and have a decreased urge to over-drink. Using MRI measures, alcohol consumption consistently predicted volume of the hippocampus. Weekly alcohol consumption did not predict hippocampal atrophy in women, only men.

Of course, you can’t stockpile your drinks, and have them all at the end of the week. This first post covered definitions of moderate drinking based on solid empirical research over the years. It also addressed instances where moderate drinking or a goal of pursuing moderate drinking could be hazardous to your health and well-being. Most U.S. adults who drink don’t drink every day.13That’s why it’s important to focus on the amount people drink on the days that they drink. While it might be a little jarring to hear this coming from two addiction specialists on the front lines of clinical practice, alcohol can be a positive force in many people’s lives. Practitioners like us see a very skewed sample of drinkers– mostly those with severe alcohol problems that cause severe consequences. Not surprisingly, in our work with patients we concentrate more heavily on the real and present dangers of drinking than on the many positive reinforcing effects of alcohol.

Ways To Moderate Your Drinking

To determine whether—and where—you fall in the alcohol use disorder spectrum, answer the following questions. “At-risk alcohol use is linked to more than 60 acute and chronic diseases, with men having a higher incidence of alcohol-related health problems than women,” Molina added. They were also two times more likely to have problems with alcohol consumption nine years later. Moderate alcohol use has possible health benefits, but it’s not risk-free. Most people don’t moderate or give up drinking all at once. The benefits of moderating alcohol consumption may be numerous and include losing weight, saving money, sleeping better and having more authentic connections with friends/family. The contents of this website are for educational purposes and are not intended to offer personal medical advice.

  • (One drink equals one 12-ounce bottle of beer, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits).
  • Give yourself a goal of drinking moderately for 30 days.
  • It’s clear, he says, that drinking comes with health risks, and far less clear that it comes with any benefits.
  • Our goal in this series is to present you with solid empirical data on moderate drinking without blaming, labeling, or telling you what to do.

Data, including sociodemographics (e.g., age, social activity), cognitive function, and alcohol use variables, were collected at approximately 5 year intervals throughout the duration of the study. 1 U.S. standard drink being the equivalent of 12 oz of 5% beer or 1 shot of 80-proof liquor (i.e., 14 grams of pure ethanol).

Drinking Is Different For An Alcoholic

Data on various chronic illnesses, as opposed to mental disorders, have been gathered since the turn of the century. Information on alcohol use, symptoms, and consequences, however, was not collected routinely until the early 1970s because alcohol dependence was not viewed as a chronic disease. By sponsoring regular surveys, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has played an important role in establishing alcohol dependence in this category. In the United States, both the Federal tax code and the tax codes of individual States specify which beverages are classified as “ beer,” “ wine,” or “distilled spirits” and their alcohol content. According to those definitions, “ beer” includes strong beer (i.e., beer with an alcohol content greater than 3.2 percent), beer with an alcohol content of up to 3.2 percent, ale, malt liquor, and similar types of beverages. Similarly, “ wine” encompasses wine, vermouth, champagne, sparkling wine, cider, and related beverages. The broadest category is that of “distilled spirits,” which includes numerous beverages, such as gin, rum, vodka, whiskey, scotch, bourbon, and premixed cocktails.

Can You Moderate Your Drinking

Nowadays, the recommended alcohol intake is gender-neutral and alcohol-free days are greatly encouraged for everyone. During the times when you’re alcohol-free, does it change how you feel and where you place value in your life? Do you find you’re able to think more clearly, focus better, and maintain your energy? Build upon these positive changes as you continue to cut down on drinking alcohol, and don’t feel discouraged if you face challenges along the way. Changing your relationship with alcohol is often a non-linear journey, and setbacks are a normal part of progress. Peer pressure isn’t reserved solely for young adult behavior. It can pop up at any time, at any age, and it doesn’t feel any easier to avoid even if you’ve experienced it before.

A Standard Drink

If you need help finding a solution, call Burning Tree West’s admissions office and we will be glad to help you find a solution to your alcoholism. But once they are finished drinking, they will not obsess over getting more like an alcoholic. The normal drinker might not drink again for a couple of days, a couple of weeks, or a couple of months. If you knew just 5 minutes a day could change your life forever…would you do it? Sign up for ShameOver now, commit to just 5 minutes a day for the long-lasting change, and transform your relationship with alcohol forever. Start tracking now through the ShameOver Drink Tracking App, and cheers to your best year yet! While national attention has been brought to the recent epidemic of opioid use disorder and related overdose deaths, alcohol remains one of the leading causes of death in America.

If your problem is serious enough, Molina suggests that medication can be prescribed to help reduce your craving for alcohol. You should also pay attention to how easy or hard it is for you to cut down on your drinking and identify what triggers you to drink, she advised. Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health. He facilitates the Gay Men’s Therapy Group on Monday and Tuesday evenings.

That difference in drinking pattern has considerable implications for the drinkers with respect to the likelihood of experiencing negative outcomes, such as alcohol poisoning or alcohol-related traffic crashes. Unfortunately, little consensus exists among scientists as to what constitutes hazardous drinking and how one can best measure drinking patterns in general and hazardous drinking patterns in particular. Researchers have developed several definitions of hazardous drinking, such as consumption of five or more drinks on one drinking occasion or being intoxicated more than a certain number of times in a given time period. Few studies, however, have compared the ability of those various definitions to predict alcohol-related outcomes or their usefulness in shaping public health policy. QF measures query the respondent on both drinking frequency and average quantity consumed per occasion, thereby providing a measure of the total alcohol amount consumed. QF measures currently may be the most widely used instruments with which to measure drinking in most countries, including the United States.

Moderate drinking might be especially beneficial if you have low HDL that just won’t budge upward with diet and exercise. It’s possible that the fast-acting enzyme breaks down alcohol before it can have a beneficial effect on HDL and clotting factors. Interestingly, these differences in the ADH1C gene do not influence the risk of heart disease among people who don’t drink alcohol. This adds strong indirect evidence that alcohol itself reduces heart disease risk. The definition of moderate drinking is something of a balancing act.

“Try doing a ‘dry’ month like Dry January, Go Dry for July or Sober October,” says Moore. “Once you have a sense of how much you’re drinking, it’s helpful to track how many drinks you’re having per day,” says Witkiewitz. “You could use a calendar, journal or any number of tracking apps.” Drink Control Alcohol Tracker or Less are two examples of free tracking apps available on iOS devices.

Tips To Help You Drink In Moderation

If you drink at home, start measuring to see exactly how much alcohol you’re drinking every day. While there is a framework to MM, based on Kern’s book Responsible Drinking, it’s also a program that prides itself on flexibility and enabling people to find their own paths forward. Three out of the 10 people at the meeting I attended said they weren’t ready to do a 30 yet, but were planning shorter breaks. One man celebrated the fact that he’d taken one day off from smoking weed and drinking. He does both in moderation daily, and his concern was more about the frequency and the fact that he can never seem to take a day off than the amount of any particular substance consumed.

Wine is easier to know the alcohol content because it’s listed on the bottle. Liquor and mixed drinks are a whole other “kettle of fish.” How much vodka is in that Martini?