It's natural to enjoy a glass of wine after a long day at work, or to indulge in a spiked eggnog over the holidays; however, drinking too heavily in one sitting or too frequently during the week can represent signs that you're drinking too much and should slow down. Of course, drinking a lot of water during the day can be great for your health, but when it comes to alcohol, it's important to be more cautious.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on finding a balance in the diet between healthy substance and less healthy ones (notice, alcohol is not "unhealthy" in moderation, nor does it provide vast nutrition, though). Having small doses of alcoholic drinks can actually be beneficial, as it can relax the body, improve heart health, ward of diabetes, and beat stress, as explained by experts at Medical Daily. Being smart about consumption is key. When you're drinking too often or in too high of doses, it can be dangerous to health and wellbeing. Here are 13 signs that you're drinking too much and should re-evaluate how much alcohol you're drinking on a regular basis. If you cut it out a little bit, you might find extraordinary results.
1. More Than Three Drinks A Day
Over email with Bustle, Suzette Glasner-Edwards, an adjunct associate professor at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and a licensed clinical psychologist says that drinking more than three drinks a day can be seen as "risky" or "heavy" drinking, according to The National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse's definition. Her research focuses on advancing treatments for addictions and mental health problems at the UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Program. Glasner-Edwards is also the author of “The Addiction Recovery Skills Workbook.”
2. More Than Seven Drinks A Week
Glasner-Edwards also notes that drinking more than seven drinks a week could signal drinking in excess. If you typically have a glass of wine a night to relax before hitting the sheets, don't allow yourself to have that second glass on a given night, to then keep drinking nightly the rest of the week. Being more mindful could boost health and protect your heart and liver.
3. Frequent Injuries
According to Glasner-Edwards, you're more likely to bruise and become injured when you're drinking too much alcohol on a regular basis. "For example, studies show that alcohol is a factor in 60% of fatal burn injuries and drowning and 40 percent of motor vehicle accidents," Glasnwer-Edwards cautions.
4. Sleeping Trouble
Glasner-Edwards says that having difficulty sleeping soundly, or experiencing "sleep disorders" can come from drinking. While you might fall asleep immediately, you're prone to waking up and not entering deep sleep, as you would, had you been alcohol-free. Even just one drink will impair your sleep, and if it becomes a habit, it can interfere with your quality of life, energy, and productivity.
5. Poor Heart Condition
If you speak to a doctor and find out that you're at risk of "heart disease, fatter liver disease, stroke, or high blood pressure," advises Glasner-Edwards, and you also tend to drink alcohol often during the week, it could definitely be a factor in raising these risks. By reducing intake, you'll be better able to protect your heart from these heart conditions.
6. High Anxiety
Glasner-Edwards says that drinking heavily can contribute to "anxiety and depression," which can be detrimental for your health and happiness, and it makes it harder to break free from an alcoholic habit. While alcohol might help you relax initially, as it's a sedative, alcohol actually raises blood sugar and makes anxiety worse, by messing with your brain's serotonin levels.
7. Personal Problems
If you notice that other areas of your life are suffering due to an increase in your alcohol consumption (think about how you behave when drinking around your friends and work environment, as well as how committed you are to personal goals), it's worth cutting back, advises Glasner-Edwards. Glasner-Edwards cautions against "personal problems associated with the development of an addiction (such as relationship difficulties, trouble at work, legal problems related to alcohol use, and the development of psychological and physical health problems stemming from drinking)."
8. Not Alternating With Water
If you're only drinking alcohol and not drinking water to balance and hydrate the body, you're at greater risk of hurting your body and becoming drunker, faster, explains Glasner-Edwards. "Alternating drinking an alcoholic beverage with a non-alcoholic beverage (these are sometimes referred to 'drink spacers' – like water or juice) is a strategy that will slow down the rate of alcohol consumption and keep it at a reasonable pace," Glasner-Edwards advises.
9. Driving Drunk
If you're drunk to the point of not keeping yourself safe and forgetting to secure a ride home, with a friend who is not intoxicated or with an Uber or cab, then you've gotten to the point of being irresponsibly out of your mind and out of control. Of course, driving drunk is risky and never smart. Glasner-Edwards recommends designating a driver or someone to call a ride service ahead of time. Engaging in any risky behavior is pretty common with excess drinkers, explains Holistic Health Coach and Personal Trainer Jen Bruno with J.B. Fitness & Nutrition over email with Bustle, as they feel invincible, as well as "blacking out," which can increase these actions.
10. Super Yellow Pee
If your pee is too yellow when drinking, it means your body is seriously dehydrated and needs fluids (that aren't alcoholic). "If your urine is dark in color and/or you are constantly thirsty, this means your body needs hydration, stat," explains Elizabeth Ann Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT over email with Bustle. "Depending on the amount of alcohol consumed will help dictate what fluids you should be putting in your body, but, I definitely recommend H2O and in some cases, an electrolyte beverage," Shaw advises.
11. Drinking Alone & Lying
Bruno says that if you "drink in private or secretly" or lie to someone about how many drinks you've consumed or whether or not you've been drinking, it could signal an abusive relationship to drinking. It can also signify that "you regret your drinking afterwards," and want to keep it as a hidden behavioral pattern. If you notice yourself feeling uncomfortable drinking around others or being yourself, it could indicate a problem.
12. Inability To Stop At One Drink
Bruno says that if "you can't stop at one drink at happy hour," it could mean that you have a toxic relationship to alcohol and need to cut back on intake. Remember, drinking more than seven drinks a week is overkill, so if you're not able to have just one a day, and you drink daily, that's considered heavy or risky drinking.
13. Social Life Revolves Around Drinking
If your social life revolves around drinking, as in you're heading to happy hours and boozy brunches regularly with your social network, and you get a bit wasted at these events, it's a sign that you have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol (which can be creating unhealthy personal relations, as well). Bruno recommends trying new activities instead. Perhaps a gym class, cooking demo, or movie?
If any of these factors seem applicable to your drinking habits, it's time to reel it in and be more mindful of how much you drink and how often you're engaging in activities that involve alcohol. Slowing down will be better for your health overall.
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