Problematic drinking can range in severity from occasionally drinking to harmful levels (commonly referred to as binge drinking) to alcohol dependence or an alcohol use disorder. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates as many as seventeen million American adults over age eighteen have an alcohol use disorder to varying severity. Also, nearly another one million adolescents and teens between the ages of twelve and seventeen meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorders and could benefit from alcohol addiction treatment.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) categorizes alcohol dependence disorders as mild, moderate, or severe. Terms such as binge drinking, heavy drinking, and blackout drinking are often used as well in conversations surrounding someone’s relationship with alcohol use and abuse. But what do these terms mean? What does it mean to be classified as a heavy drinker? 

What Is Classified As a Heavy Drinker? 

Before it is possible to understand what is classified as heavy drinking, it is necessary to learn more about what is considered a “standard drink” in the United States. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a standard drink is equal to 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol. Generally speaking, this is equivalent to:

  • A 12-ounce beer with 5% alcohol content.
  • Eight ounces of malt liquor with 7% alcohol content.
  • Five ounces of wine with 12% alcohol content.
  • A 1.5 ounce “shot” of 80 proof liquor at 40% alcohol content. This can include distilled spirits or hard liquor such as rum, vodka, or whiskey.

Heavy drinking is defined as drinking 15 or more drinks per week for men and eight or more drinks per week for women.

How to Determine if Your Loved One Has an Alcohol Addiction

If your loved one struggles to control how much or how often they drink, they may have an alcohol addiction. There are certain warning signs you can watch for to help you decide if it is time to talk to them about seeking help. If they drink regardless of the consequences, cannot limit their intake, cannot stop drinking even if they want to, experience withdrawal when the effects of their last drink wear off, or they consistently think about getting and using alcohol, they may have an alcohol use disorder. 

How to Determine if You Have an Alcohol Addiction That Requires Treatment

Any type of drinking can be problematic in its own way. In many cases, what starts out as occasional drinking evolves into more frequent and heavier alcohol consumption. The stronger your tolerance for the effects of alcohol becomes, the more difficult it is to accept you have an addiction that requires treatment. 

Alcohol addiction is a chronic illness. However, unlike many chronic diseases such as heart disease or diabetes, one can overcome alcohol addiction. By seeking addiction treatment and completing a uniquely designed program focused on your specific needs and goals, it is possible to achieve sobriety and begin your journey to long-term recovery. 

Reach Out to Us at Cal Recovery Center Today

The decision to seek alcohol addiction treatment is not easy. It is normal to wonder how rehab will affect important aspects of your life, including family, employment, and your physical and emotional well-being. Withdrawal and detox from alcohol are not something that should be done without medical support and supervision. Often, when people try to detox without support, withdrawal symptoms become difficult to manage, and relapse quickly occurs. At Cal Recovery, we will work with you to create a treatment program specifically for you. Using a combination of evidence-based therapies and alternative treatment models, our caring and compassionate treatment staff are here to help you overcome your struggles with alcohol. If you are ready to take those first steps, contact our admissions team today

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