Are you taking two bottles of wine to a dinner party? Does the amount of wine or beer you buy increase each week? Do you finish off each evening with a night cap? Did you just buy bigger wine glasses? Are you drinking more than the daily unit guidelines most nights of the week?
If you’ve answered yes to any one of these questions, chances are you’re drinking too much.
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) decrees that a standard drink is, “any drink that contains approximately 10 grams of alcohol”. It also suggests that healthy men and women should drink no more than two standard drinks on any day and should drink no more than four drinks on any one occasion.
Experts separate drinking habits into four groups: social, heavy, problematic and dependent. A social drinker would have no more than two standard drinks per day, with dinner or with friends. If you’re having more than 21 standard drinks during the week you would be considered a heavy drinker. Drinking a six-pack a day would put you in the problematic drinker category and a dependent drinker is one who cannot go a day without a drink, be it two drinks or six. It can be difficult to categorise a dependent drinker, because amounts aren’t the defining factor; it’s more that dependence on drinking becomes necessary to be sociable or even functional. This makes dependence a rather grey area, but following the NHMRC guidelines means it’s not too difficult to keep in check.
If you think that your tolerance to alcohol is increasing, try taking a day off here and there. It’s good to know that staying within the recommended guidelines will lower your risk of contracting alcohol-related illness or disease, improve your quality of sleep and help you to feel more positive in general. Resetting your tolerance is easy — you may have to sacrifice a few drinks here and there, but the benefits to your health and wellbeing will far outweigh the loss in the long run.
Take this quiz to find out if you are drinking too much.
The NHMRC website can help you find out more about tracking and improving your drinking habits.