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Binge Drinking

How Much Alcohol is Too Much?

May 30, 2022
8 min read
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Written by
Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
May 30, 2022
8 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
May 30, 2022
8 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
May 30, 2022
8 min read
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Reframe Content Team
May 30, 2022
8 min read

We've all been there — sitting around a table, having a blast, and promising ourselves "just one more." And then maybe one more after that. Before we know it, we’ve lost count, and we’re telling ourselves we’ll just be more careful the next time.

But although many of us wonder just where that line between what’s acceptable and what’s “too much” is, it can be hard to tell.

What's the Limit?

While there’s no instruction manual on how much alcohol is truly “too much,” there are some guidelines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define moderate drinking as up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. A "drink" is considered to be about 14 grams — 0.6 ounces — of pure alcohol, which is generally found in 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.

However, keep in mind, these are the upper limits — not a daily recommendation. You certainly don't get brownie points for reaching them each day! Also, these guidelines are for adults who are of legal drinking age. If you're under 21, or pregnant, no amount of alcohol is considered safe.

What Happens If You Cross the Limit?

Here's where the plot thickens. Regularly drinking more than the recommended amounts can lead to a condition called alcohol use disorder (AUD). Symptoms of AUD can range from spending a lot of time drinking, feeling cravings, developing tolerance — i.e. requiring more alcohol to feel the same effect — and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not drinking.

Long-term effects of alcohol misuse can include damage to the liver, heart, pancreas, and brain. It's like inviting a bulldozer into your body to wreck the place — never a good idea!

A Plot Twist

Here’s something else to consider: according to recent studies, there may be no safe level of alcohol consumption. Yes, you read that right.

In 2018, a major global study published in The Lancet concluded that contrary to popular belief, no amount of alcohol is beneficial for your overall health. The research suggested that any potential benefits of alcohol — such as the often-mentioned heart health benefits of moderate wine consumption — are outweighed by its adverse effects on other aspects of health, notably its potential to contribute to cancer, liver disease, and mental health disorders.

It’s important to note that this doesn't mean a single drink will doom you. The study is about a cumulative effect: the more you drink, the higher your risk. Imagine each drink as a ticket in a raffle where you really, really don’t want to win the prize — one ticket might not significantly increase your chances, but with each additional ticket, your risk goes up.

Around the World

Another interesting angle here has to do with how countries around the world define alcohol safety limits. Spoiler alert — not everyone agrees!

A recent release of the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations brought this question into the public eye. Norwegian officials took a somewhat unusual approach — they decided not to define a limit at all. As Norwegian Institute of Public Health researcher Jørgen Bramness explains, “Setting a limit becomes more or less arbitrary … It can be too high for some and too low for others. If you do not set a limit, you can convey that there is a risk associated with drinking regardless, and this risk starts at zero.”

In January 2023, Canada echoed the idea that no amount is truly “safe” — but did choose to set a limit: a maximum of two units of alcohol per week, for everyone. Italy, on the other hand, has the highest daily limit up to 40 grams — about four units — per day.

Tips for Cutting Back on Alcohol

What Next?

If all of this has you thinking about cutting back, here are some specific actions you can take:

  • Set your goals. Decide how many days a week you want to have alcohol and stick to it. Try to have some alcohol-free days each week.
  • Choose alcohol-free days. Give your body a break by choosing certain days of the week when you will not drink any alcohol.
  • Find alternatives. If you find that you're reaching for a drink out of habit, try substituting something else, like sparkling water, herbal tea, or a piece of fruit.
  • Practice saying no. It can be hard to turn down a drink, especially in social situations. Practice polite ways of saying no to alcohol.
  • Ask for support. If you're finding it difficult to cut back, don't hesitate to seek professional help. Remember, it's okay to ask for help.

So, there you have it: a no-nonsense guide to the often misunderstood, convoluted world of alcohol. Just like that extra topping on your pizza, a little bit of alcohol might spice up the evening, but too much can leave you feeling regretful. Here's to making informed choices and living a healthier, happier life! 

Start Your Journey With Reframe!

Thinking about kicking alcohol to the curb? The Reframe app is here for you! While it’s not a cure for alcohol use disorder (AUD), our app is a reliable pal, assisting you in reconsidering alcohol's role in your life with the help of the latest neuroscience research. Hundreds of thousands of people across the globe have found our method useful in reshaping their relationship with alcohol. You've got this, and we've got your back!

Reframe is all about equipping you with the right knowledge and resources to not merely survive with less booze, but to truly flourish. We provide daily pearls of wisdom backed by real research that helps decode the science behind alcohol. Our in-app Toolkit is jam-packed with handy resources and activities to help you navigate any obstacles.

Want a worldwide community to share your journey? Jump into our 24/7 Forum chat, where you can soak up inspiration from people across the world who understand and support you. Plus, our certified coaches are always on hand for some personalized advice and guidance. 

We never stop adding new features to our app to enhance your journey. Meet Melody, our newest in-app chatbot. She's equipped with the most recent AI tech and is all set to steer you towards a life with little or no alcohol. And there's more! Each month, we offer fun challenges like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. Get involved with other Reframers or fly solo — it's completely up to you!

Give the Reframe app a spin for a whole week absolutely free! There’s nothing to lose — and so much to gain! Are you ready to seize control and explore what life's like beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

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At Reframe, we do science, not stigma. We base our articles on the latest peer-reviewed research in psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral science. We follow the Reframe Content Creation Guidelines, to ensure that we share accurate and actionable information with our readers. This aids them in making informed decisions on their wellness journey.
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