Is Beer Bad For You?

Is Beer Bad For You?

Beer is an alcoholic drink made by brewing and fermenting cereal grains such as malted barley and flavored with hops. For years, beer has been a popular alcoholic beverage among people worldwide, particularly men.

Beer is one of the world’s celebrated drinks. This is because it is a versatile option for drinking at social occasions or events. However, for many beer drinkers, consumption is not limited to social events. People also drink it on normal days to wind down.  

mug of beer

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men are more likely than women to drink excessively. As of 2019, 7 percent of men reportedly had an alcohol use disorder compared to an estimated 4 percent of women. 

People have extensively argued whether a beer is good or bad for health. In line with this argument, this article discusses the meaning of moderate alcohol consumption, what is considered excessive drinking, and the downsides and upsides of drinking beer. 

The Downsides of Drinking Beer

Drinking beer, particularly heavy drinking or binge drinking, has harmful effects. Studies have shown that drinking alcohol might be associated with liver cirrhosis, dementia, and depression. 

Binge drinking means drinking excessively to the point that the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) increases to up to 0.08 percent. This corresponds to five or more drinks (females) or five or more drinks (males) within 2 hours. Heavy drinking means consuming more than four drinks daily or more than 14 in a week (for men) or consuming more than three drinks per day or more than seven drinks per week (for women).

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

Here are some of the downsides of drinking beer:

Liver disease

Research has directly linked alcohol consumption to liver disease mortality. This means consuming drinks containing alcohol such as beer can predispose one to liver diseases such as cirrhosis. 

The severity of alcohol-induced liver disease typically depends on factors like the pattern, amount, and duration of alcohol consumption and other factors like nutrition and genetics. 

Cancer risk

If you drink beer excessively, you have a higher risk of developing certain types of cancer, such as mouth and throat cancers. Alcohol contains empty calories, which can cause weight gain; excessive weight gain causes an increased risk of cancer. Also, alcohol can cause an increase in estrogen and other hormones linked to breast cancer.

Mental health

Depression is a mental health disorder. Epidemiology shows that it affects an estimated 264 million people. Studies have suggested that heavy beer drinkers or binge drinkers have an increased risk of depression than non-drinkers and moderate drinkers. It can also predispose them to anxiety.

Weight gain

While moderate drinking doesn’t seem to be associated with being overweight or obesity, research has shown that heavy drinking or binge drinking can cause weight gain. Studies have associated obesity with other health complications, such as the increased risk of diabetes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), other downsides of excessive beer consumption include:

7 Surprising Health Benefits of Beer

Scientists and physicians advise against excessive alcohol consumption due to its side effects. This has made it seem like nothing good comes from drinking beer. However, you’ll be surprised to learn that beer can benefit cardiovascular health and overall health. 

Beer contains polyphenols, amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, which offer health benefits such as the reduced risk of heart disease, reduction in blood sugar level, and stronger bones. Research has reported a decrease in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol with moderate alcohol consumption, causing a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases. 

Surprising health benefits of moderate beer consumption include:

  1. It might reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes
  2. It might raise HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) level
  3. Reduces LDL cholesterol level, which is a risk factor of high blood pressure
  4. Beneficial to heart health and might reduce the risk of heart attack
  5. Natural compounds from beer constituents exert antioxidant activity, protecting cells from free radicals
  6. Aids bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis
  7. It may lower the risk of dementia, which conditions like Alzheimer’s disease can cause

Most alcohol-related studies are observational studies that show correlation and not causation. Therefore, you can’t conclusively say that alcohol plays an essential role in reducing common diseases like heart disease. However, some strong evidence, such as an increase in HDL, points towards its benefit to heart health. The key is to focus on moderation, as excessive intake will harm your health.

Harvard Health Publishing

How Much Beer is Too Much?

Health experts advise that people drink beer in moderation. But how much beer is too much? 

Moderate drinking means consuming less than two drinks a day for women and less than three drinks a day for men. This means you are drinking too much beer if you have more than this number of drinks in a day. 

Also, you are consuming too much beer if you drink five or more drinks (for men) on a single occasion or four or more drinks (for women) on a single occasion. This is known as binge drinking.  

What is Moderate Alcohol Intake? What is Considered One Beer?

Moderate drinkers are alcohol consumers that drink moderate amounts of alcohol. But, how do you know if you are a moderate drinker or a heavy drinker? 

According to Harvard Health Publishing, moderate alcohol intake means one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. 

There are three categories of alcoholic drinks: beer, liquor, and wine. While beer is made from fermented cereals, wine is made from fermented grapes and fruits (e.g., red wine). Beer contains a smaller amount of alcohol than wine. Unlike beer and wine, which are brewed, liquor is distilled from plants and grains (e.g., vodka, rum, and gin). Liquor has the highest alcohol content of the three drinks. 

One beer is 12 ounces of regular beer, which is about 5 percent alcohol. This also represents one standard drink as it contains roughly 14 grams of pure alcohol. 

Do You Have a Drinking Problem? Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

If you drink light beer, you are most likely not at risk of experiencing the side effects of alcohol consumption. People with drinking problems usually show symptoms of alcohol use disorders and might need healthcare. Symptoms of alcoholism or alcohol use disorders include:

Physical symptoms of AUD include:

  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Profuse sweating
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Rapid heartbeat

Treatment Options for Alcohol Misuse & Addiction

Professional help is available for people suffering from alcohol misuse and addiction. Depending on the addiction case, a patient will receive either inpatient or outpatient treatment or both. 

It will help to check into an alcohol rehab center close to you. Your treatment might involve any of the following options:

30 Days Without Alcohol

Benefits of Cutting Out Alcohol for 30 Days

Reducing or quitting alcohol can improve your well-being in many ways. The benefits of cutting out alcohol for 30 days include:

Who Benefits From an Alcohol-Free Month?

Anyone can benefit from an alcohol-free month. There are no negatives of going alcohol-free for a month for most people, besides making some minor adjustments to your social life and exchanging your alcoholic beverage for water at happy hour.

Alcohol Free Month

However, if someone has an addiction, they should not suddenly go without alcohol. Someone with an alcohol addiction will need professional detox to guide them through withdrawal or face the consequences resulting from withdrawal symptoms.

What Happens During 30 Days Without Alcohol?

Better Sleep

Abstaining from alcohol will help you get a better night’s sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. 

Although 15 to 28 percent of people use alcohol to help them sleep, it reduces the quality and quantity of rest. Alcohol can disrupt the two most essential parts of our sleep: 

  1. Slow-wave sleep (deep sleep), which is the most physically vital part of sleep.
  2. REM sleep, which is the part of sleep that helps you learn and remember. 

Most light to moderate drinkers who reduce their alcohol intake or stop drinking altogether will see the quality of their sleep improve relatively quickly.

Less Bloating

People who give up alcohol are likely to experience the appearance of a slimmer figure as a result of less bloating caused by alcohol.

Alcohol causes bloating for a couple of reasons. Alcohol is an inflammatory substance that causes swelling in the body. This inflammation is worsened by the things often mixed with alcohol, such as sugary and carbonated liquids, resulting in gas, discomfort, and more bloating. Also, because alcohol is a diuretic, it causes the body to retain water, leading to more bloating.

Possible Weight Loss

People who give up alcohol, even temporarily, are likely to lose weight.

Alcohol contributes to weight gain by reducing the speed of the body’s metabolism. When the metabolism is slower, the body breaks down alcohol first, so fats and sugars burn off slower. Plus, alcohol also carries almost the same number of calories as pure fat, at seven per gram.

Drinking also lowers inhibitions and can make some people more prone to snacking. While sober, it’s easier to maintain a strict diet.

Lower Anxiety Levels

Going alcohol-free can help you improve your mental health. Although many people use alcohol to cope with stress and anxiety, evidence shows that alcohol is more likely to worsen anxiety. Going off alcohol can contribute to lower anxiety levels.

When our blood alcohol content increases, we become more emotionally unstable as we experience impairments to memory and comprehension. This emotional instability makes managing stress while intoxicated even more challenging than it already is when we are clear-headed.

Alcohol alters the chemistry of the brain and can make anxiety worse. Chronic alcohol use is also a contributing factor to developing panic disorder.

Increased Energy and Focus

Going booze-free can elevate your energy levels.  

Drinking depletes your supply of B vitamins (which are crucial for sustained energy). Like most nutrients, the B vitamins don't only have one purpose, so you may notice an impact on both your energy and focus with alcohol consumption.

Increased Hydration 

Alcohol is dehydrating, so going without alcohol will allow your body to absorb water better and help you stay better hydrated.

Alcohol is a diuretic that causes your body to remove fluids from your blood at a much quicker rate than other liquids.

Your body has a hormone called vasopressin that helps your body reabsorb water passed through the kidneys. When you drink alcohol, your body produces less vasopressin, which means less water is reabsorbed and it is expelled as urine. Since you’re not reabsorbing water as much as you usually would, you end up getting dehydrated.

No Hangovers

Abstaining from drinking means that you will no longer suffer from hangovers. Instead of nausea, headaches, or tiredness, you will feel more energized and productive.

Better Skin

Going without alcohol helps your skin recover from the dehydrating effects of the substance, which gives it an unhealthy color and texture. 

Some drinkers have also reported that curbing their drinking has cleared their eczema.

Other Health Benefits

Giving up drinking offers many positive health benefits and reduces the risk of adverse consequences associated with long-term alcohol consumption.

Giving up drinking lowers your risk of developing the following:

What Happens After 30 Days Without Alcohol?

During the first week of going alcohol-free, you may not notice much of a difference. It can take days before you feel back to normal after heavy drinking. Bouncing back from drinking includes ridding the body of alcohol, catching up on sleep, and cutting out other bad habits which may have coincided.

It usually takes at least two weeks of consistently not drinking to notice results, assuming all other factors stay the same.

You might start to notice some positive side effects after stopping drinking for just a few days, including less bloating and some slight weight loss due to the hefty calorific content of many alcoholic drinks.

Going without drinking will also help users understand their drinking habits better and build a healthier relationship with alcohol.

Benefits of “Dry January” 

“Dry January” is when many people voluntarily stop drinking alcohol for all of January. 

The goal of Dry January is to start the new year on a sober, clearer, more refreshed, and healthy note.

Dry January started in 2012 as an initiative by a British charity, to help people “ditch the hangover, reduce the waistline and save some serious money by giving up alcohol for 31 days.”

Millions of people now participate in the challenge.

The growing awareness comes as recent studies have found no evidence that light drinking might help keep people healthy. Drinking more than five drinks weekly on average can take years off a person’s life.

Approximately 82 percent of participants of Dry January felt a sense of achievement after successfully going a month alcohol-free.

When Someone Should Quit Drinking Permanently 

For some people, it may be safe to drink alcohol moderately with occasional breaks. 

On the other hand, some people should consider quitting drinking permanently rather than temporarily.

Quitting alcohol is strongly advised for people who:

  • Try cutting down but cannot stay within the limits they set
  • Have a medical condition that is caused or worsened by drinking
  • Are taking a medication that interacts with alcohol
  • Are or may become pregnant

Anyone who feels that they have an alcohol addiction should also consider quitting drinking. Common signs of alcohol addiction include the presence of any of these symptoms within the last year:

Another sign of alcohol addiction is experiencing withdrawal symptoms, which include:

  • Tremors (shakes)
  • An increase in blood pressure
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Nightmares or vivid dreams
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations 
  • Seizures 

If you experience even one of these withdrawal symptoms, you should contact a medical professional to help you safely detox from alcohol.

How to Safely Detox from Alcohol

Speak with a doctor first before you reduce or quit alcohol. 

A doctor can give you medical advice based on your health, create a withdrawal plan, and help you prepare for withdrawal symptoms.

The best way to safely detox from alcohol is to receive inpatient care at a licensed rehabilitation facility, where you can receive on-call medical care to support you as you go through alcohol withdrawal.

How to Get Rid of Alcohol Breath Fast

What Causes Alcohol Breath?

Halitosis is the medical term for bad breath. It occurs when someone has a noticeable and unpleasant odor related to the breath. In some cases, the smell is persistent, but for some people, it comes and goes.

Almost every person will experience bad breath at some point in their lives. But for some individuals, the extent of the issue can lead to concern. 

In many cases, a person may learn they have the condition after being told by a loved one. Some people have bad breath and are not aware of it.

Alcohol Breath

Alcohol breath often occurs after excessive drinking. An individual may have bad breath and an unpleasant scent coming from their skin as they sweat.

Those with a drinking problem may regularly experience bad alcohol breath. The reason alcohol consumption results in bad breath is the way the body deals with it. Alcohol is treated as a toxin by the body, so it tries to transform it into a less harmful chemical.

Ninety percent of alcohol changes into acetic acid during metabolism. However, some of it is released through the respiratory system and through sweat. This process results in alcohol-related bad breath. 

Overindulgence with alcohol can also lead to an unpleasant smell that can originate from the stomach. The smell is particularly noticeable if the individual belches.

If someone has not been drinking but still has an unpleasant scent that resembles alcohol breath, it could signify an underlying medical condition. Sometimes bad breath is mistaken as caused by alcohol consumption when it results from a condition like diabetes.

Dismissing bad breath as caused by alcohol can mean missing concerning symptoms of another condition that may be more serious.

How to Get Rid of Alcohol Breath Fast (Myths vs. Truths)

There is no real way to beat alcohol breath. However, there are some methods to follow to cover up the smell. Some practices offer effective results, and some are myths.

Myth: Using Menthol and Minty Products

The smell resulting from drinking alcohol does not come from your mouth. It comes from your lungs, where alcohol in the blood enters the air you exhale. This is how breathalyzers detect blood alcohol levels.

Using peppermint chewing gum, floss, mainline mints, or mouthwash may cover the smell of alcohol breath temporarily. However, the effects will not last.

Truth: Consuming Something Smelly

While you cannot replace the smell of alcohol with a fresh smell, you can consume something equally as potent to cover up the odor of alcohol breath. Try eating foods with a strong smell, such as garlic, fish, or blue cheese.

Myth: Trying Breath Perfume

Many cultures finish a meal with a herbal chew to perfume away unpleasant breath. Mukhwas in India, for example, freshens the breath with ingredients like anise, fennel, and coconut. 

However, these breath perfumes and mouth fresheners are unlikely to keep your breath fresh for long.

Truth: Brushing Your Teeth

Alcohol breath does not live in your mouth, but bacteria do. Bacteria thrive in your mouth after alcohol consumption. Brush your teeth with toothpaste to scrub out the bacteria to reduce bad alcohol breath.

Be sure to brush your tongue and the roof of your mouth as well as your teeth.

Myth: Drinking Neutral Smelling Alcohol

Some people believe that drinking neutral smelling alcohol like vodka or herbal digestifs will not cause unpleasant smells from digestive breakdown. But as the scent originates from your lungs, all alcoholic beverages create a similar unpleasant booze breath, no matter the smell of the drink.

Truth: Helping Your Body Process Alcohol

You cannot speed up the hourly rate at which your liver metabolizes alcohol. However, you can help your body process the alcohol more efficiently by staying on top of your wellness. 

Be sure to consume a healthy diet, stay active, and drink plenty of water. The more you help your liver stay healthy, the more it will help you.

How to Get Rid of Alcohol Odor from Skin Pores (Sweat)

As some alcohol leaves the body via the skin pores, this can lead to a noticeable odor during sweating. 

There are some ways you can make this odor less noticeable:

How Long Does it Take to Get the Smell of Alcohol Off Your Breath?

The presence of alcohol in your breath depends on how much you have consumed and other biological factors.

The typical rate of alcohol elimination is one unit per hour. At this rate, traces of alcohol would have disappeared in relation to the amount of alcohol you consume.

If you consumed one large glass of wine, it would usually take your body three hours to eliminate any alcohol it has absorbed. During those three hours, your breath may smell of alcohol.

Is it Possible to Consume Alcohol Without Your Breath Smelling of Alcohol?

Prevention is always going to be better than the cure. 

If you want to consume alcohol without your breath smelling, consider:

Link Between Alcohol Odor and Alcoholism

If someone regularly smells of alcohol, it could be a sign that they are suffering from alcoholism. Some individuals experience periods of their life when they drink alcoholic beverages heavily but manage to reduce their intake before developing a physical addiction. Others progress into alcoholism and develop physical and psychological addictions to alcohol.

Some people may try their best to disguise the signs of their drinking. However, in many cases, individuals suffering from alcoholism are unaware that they may smell of alcohol. 

Confronting someone with concerns about their alcohol odors and potential addiction can lead to many denials, but it can also encourage them to seek help.

Treatment Options for Alcohol Misuse & Addiction

No matter how severe an alcohol misuse problem may seem, most people can benefit from treatment. 

One-third of people who receive treatment for alcohol issues have no further problems one year later. Many others significantly reduce their drinking and report fewer alcohol-related issues.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. What may work for one individual may not for another. Understanding the various options available can be an essential first step in receiving treatment.

Detox

Professional detox helps people dealing with unpleasant alcohol withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking. The treatment goal typically includes reducing withdrawal symptoms, preventing complications of alcohol use, and therapy to help patients stop drinking.

Behavioral Treatments

Behavioral treatments aim to transform drinking behavior through counseling. Health professionals lead these types of treatments.

Medications

There are currently three FDA-approved medications available in the United States to help people stop or reduce their drinking and prevent relapse.

A health professional prescribes these medications. They may be used alone or alongside detox, counseling, and other treatments.

Mutual Support Groups

Mutual support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and similar 12-step programs offer peer support for people quitting or reducing their alcohol intake. In combination with other treatments provided by health professionals, mutual support groups can offer a valuable additional layer of support.

Alcohol Proof

What Does Proof Mean in Alcohol (Definition)?

Alcohol proof is a measure of alcohol percentage used for spirits, otherwise known as “hard alcohol” or “hard liquor.” Proof is calculated by doubling the ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, content by volume found in respective spirits. 

For example, a spirit that is 40 percent alcohol by volume (ABV percentage) is classified as being 80 proof. 

The term “proof” dates back to 16th Century England, where it was implemented as a crude measure of alcohol content for rum and eventually other spirits.

Why is Alcohol Measured by Proof?

Alcohol is measured by proof due to British origins for determining the amount of alcohol in spirits. As far back as the 1500s, England taxed spirits, mainly rum, based on the amount of alcohol in it. However, there were no simple ways to measure this amount. 

A crude method of measurement, known as the “gunpowder test,” was developed to see how much alcohol was in different batches of rum.  Government officials would soak gunpowder with the spirits being measured and try to ignite it afterwards. If it caught fire, that indicated proof that the spirit contained more than 57% alcohol, the minimum amount that is flammable. 

The term "proof" stuck from this initial methodology, but the modern standard is not based on gunpowder in any way. In the mid-19th Century United States, 50% ABV was deemed a baseline for labeling spirits as “100 proof.” This is why, in modern terms, proof is simply the doubling of ABV for any given spirit. 

Why are Beer and Wine not Measured by “Proof?”

The reason why beer and wine are not measured by proof stems from the origin of the term itself. When spirits were created in 16th Century England, proof was created for tax purposes, with only high-alcohol beverages subject to tax levies. Since spirits had high alcohol content, they were subjected to “proofing.”

Beer and wine, on the other hand, were not subject to proof measurements. Even the strongest beers and wines were well below the 57% ABV standard that designated the proof requirement. And when the modern terminology was adopted, it similarly excluded beer and wine from this form of hard alcohol measurement. 

Alcohol Proof by Type of Liquor

Each type of spirit varies in proof values due to several factors, such as unique brand recipes. However, different kinds of spirits or hard liquor tend to have average or typical proof measurements. 

Below are typical proof ranges for common forms of hard alcohol: 

Rum

Rum was the beverage that inspired the initial proof measurement system in 16th Century United Kingdom. Back then, it was common to find rum that was proved to be above 57% ABV. 

Typical modern rum beverages range between 70-100 proof (35-50% ABV), with the most common being 80 proof. 

Cachaça

Cachaça is a variant of rum that is very popular in Brazil and is the main component of the ubiquitous drink caipirinha. It is also typically between 70-100 proof, though it tends to be on the lower end of this range. 

Tequila

Tequila is a very popular spirit that originates from Mexico and is still the most popular hard alcohol beverage there today. Typical tequila bottles will have between 80-100 proof on their label (40-50% ABV), with few exceptions to this range. 

Mezcal

Mezcal is a type of tequila that is very traditionally Mexican, though it is growing in popularity in many other places. It is much smokier than regular tequila, but the alcoholic content is very similar, staying in the 80-100 proof range. 

Gin

Gin replaced rum as the alcohol of choice by the British as they expanded their empire. It is easier to make than the sugarcane-based rum, though it is usually made with a similarly typical 70-100 proof (35-50% ABV).

Whiskey

Whiskey is very popular all over the world, from Ireland to Brazil to Japan. There are many subforms of whiskey, including Scotch, Rye, and Bourbon, all of which have innate differences, according to their connoisseurs. However, each of these related subtypes is typically between 70-100 proof (35-50% ABV).

Vodka

Vodka is known to be popular in Eastern Europe, but it is also one of the most popular spirits in France, Canada, Guyana, and a host of other countries. Each bottle of vodka also varies the most in proof, with different types being anywhere from 80-190 proof (40-95% ABV). Certain types of vodka are by far the strongest possible alcohol that is fit for human consumption. 

Cognac

Cognac is known to be a high-end type of liquor, with exacting attention to detail in its creation. Because of this, almost all types of cognac are 80 proof (40% ABV), regardless of which distiller or distillery made them.

Liqueur

Liqueurs, such as Amaretto, Baileys, Kaluha, and others, are typically the lowest proof spirits. Almost all of the spirits in this category are between 30-60 proof (15-30%), and the majority are on the lower end.

Graph showing the ABV content in different types of alcohol

What is Considered a “Normal” Alcohol Proof?

“Normal” alcohol proof is less than the initial amount that sparked the term. Today, anything in the range of 40-100 proof is considered “normal.” Higher than that and spirits begin to approach flammability, which is dangerous for consumption and in case of fire. 

Each type of spirit has a “normal” or typical proof, as covered above. Rum, tequila, gin, vodka, and whiskey are typically 80 proof, though different batches can vary. While some liquors (mainly rums and vodkas) can seem abnormal due to their very high proofs, these are still normal in the sense that they are legally allowed to be produced.

What Does 70 Proof Mean?

70 proof simply means 35% ABV. It is most common for flavored spirits and some higher-proof liqueurs. 70 proof is on the lower end of the scale since proof only measured hard alcohol. This is because spirits are supposed to be higher than beer or wine, both of which are typically below 15% ABV. 

What Does 80 Proof Mean?

80 proof is equal to 40% ABV. It is the most common proof measurement for spirits. Most rums, tequilas, gins, whiskeys, vodkas, and cognacs are 80 proof, along with several other types of alcoholic beverages. 

What is Considered a High Alcohol Proof?

Anything above 100 proof is considered high. This is more than 50% ABV, which was deemed the baseline when the modern proof measurement system was introduced. There are popular options legally available that are anywhere from 151 proof all the way to 190 proof, which is on the extreme high-end of the scale.  

What Does 100 Proof Mean?

100 proof is 50% ABV. This was the initial starting point for the term proof in the United States. In terms of baselines, anything below 100 proof is considered normal. Anything above is considered high. 

Is There a 200 Proof Alcohol?

No, there is a physical limit to how pure alcohol can be distilled, especially in terms of creating a spirit. The highest proof that is available for purchase is Everclear at 190 proof. 

No alcohol that can safely (or legally) be ingested by human beings can reach 200 proof. In fact, drinking 190 proof alcohol is already extremely dangerous and is not legal in some states. 

Dangers of Drinking High Proof Spirits

The dangers of drinking high-proof spirits are similar to the risks of drinking too much alcohol in general. These include:

There is also a much higher chance of developing alcohol poisoning if you drink high-proof spirits. Signs to watch out for include: 

  • Pale skin
  • Slow or irregular breathing
  • Difficulty walking
  • Hypothermia
  • Stomach and intestinal bleeding
  • Stupor
  • Unsteadiness
  • Vomiting, particularly with blood

If you think somebody is experiencing alcohol poisoning or any other related health problem, seek medical help immediately.

Alcohol-Related Sexual Assault in College

Overview: Sexual Assault on College Campuses

Sexual assault is pervasive across college campuses around the country. In fact, sexual violence is more prevalent on college campuses than any other crime.

For example, college-aged women (18 to 24 years old) are twice as likely to be assaulted than robbed, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). 

College women are at a heightened risk of sexual violence due to many systemic issues in society. These issues include the following, but each of these items is nuanced, as well:

While women are at a higher risk, both college women and college men alike are victims of sexual assault.

Statistics: Alcohol-Related Sexual Assault in College

According to RAINN, 13 percent of all students are raped or experience some form of sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation in college.

Among undergraduate students, 26.4 percent of females and 6.8 percent of males experience rape or sexual assault. Among graduate and professional students, 10 percent of women and 2.5 percent of males are assaulted on campus.

Meanwhile, 23.1 percent of TGQN (transgender, genderqueer, and nonconforming) college students have also been sexually assaulted. Intimate partner violence is also common. About two-thirds of all victims know the perpetrator.

Students tend to be at a higher risk at certain times of the year. For example, more than half of college sexual assaults happen in August, September, October, or November. These times are consistent with the first few months of the first and second semesters in college.

These numbers are likely much higher, since not all rape or sexual assault cases are reported. Only 20 percent of female student victims, ages 18 to 24, report their cases to law enforcement professionals. This is because, too often, people do not believe the victims’ stories. Rape victims also fear social penalization.

What Percentage of College Sexual Assaults Involve Alcohol?

About nine percent of full-time college students ages 18 to 22 meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder (AUD), according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). 

For most students, the first six weeks of freshman year are the most vulnerable. They tend to engage in heavy drinking and face more alcohol-related issues because of expectations and social pressures.

Alcohol also plays a significant role in college sexual assault. While not all sexual assaults at higher education institutions involve alcohol consumption, many do. According to the NIAAA, about 97,000 students ages 18 to 24 report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.

On average, at least half of all sexual assaults that happen to college students are associated with alcohol use, according to the study, “Alcohol-Related Sexual Assault: A Common Problem Among College Students,” published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

The prevalence of alcohol consumption on college campuses is high. In fact, according to the NIAAA, about 696,000 students ages 18 to 24 are assaulted in some way (not just sexually) by another student who has been drinking.

Unfortunately, when alcohol is involved, victims are wrongfully blamed for “being too drunk.” But the reality is that rape and sexual assault are no one’s fault but the perpatrator.

It’s also important to note that a person who is incapacitated cannot legally give consent. Incapacitation refers to a state beyond drunkenness. If someone is incapacitated, they may have the following symptoms:


If a person is intoxicated, but not incapacitated, they may be able to give consent — but not always. Consent depends on the person’s ability to make informed decisions. These decisions must be made without pressure or coercion — instead, they’re made with free will.

Alcohol-related sexual assault is a crime, just like non-alcohol-related sexual assault. Alcohol’s role in the assault does not change the fact that unwanted sexual acts are criminal offenses.

Why Does Alcohol-Related Sexual Assault Happen in College?

Alcohol-related sexual abuse and assault is problematic across all college campuses. 

“Rape Culture”

Rape culture refers to an environment in which rape and sexual assault is normalized and excused. It’s perpetuated through the objectification of women’s bodies, misogynistic language, the glamorization of sexual violence, and a systemic lack of accountability.

On college campuses, it’s partially a product of authority figures failing to punish perpetrators or implementing and enforcing preventative policies. Too many college rapes and assaults are swept under the rug to uphold college reputations.

Examples of rape culture include the following:

Date Rape Drugs

Date rape drugs are rampant on college campuses. They can be slipped into a drink without the victim knowing. They make the victim confused, unable to defend themselves against unwanted sexual contact, and sometimes unconscious. They can also wipe a victim’s memory.

Some common drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and prescription or over-the-counter drugs like antidepressants and antianxiety drugs can be used as date rape drugs. Tranquilizers and sleeping aids are the most common types of date rape drugs. These include ketamine, flunitrazepam (Rohypnol), gamma-butyrolactone (GBL), and gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB).

A sexual offender may even offer a victim a drug like marijuana, which the victim accepts. But they can lace it with other drugs to which the victim did not consent.

Almost 11 million women across the country have been raped while drunk, drugged, or high.

Spiked Drinks

A predator can spike a victim’s drink with a date rape drug. These drugs can be anything. They may also use alcohol to spike a non-alcoholic drink.

What Do Non-Alcohol-Involved and Alcohol-Involved Sexual Assaults Have in Common?

The only difference between non-alcohol-involved and alcohol-involved sexual assault is the alcohol. In no situation is sexual assault acceptable.

By definition, sexual assault refers to “sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim,” according to RAINN. If a victim is incapacitated from drinking alcohol, they cannot give consent.

Whether or not there’s alcohol involved, sexual assault involves:

Often, with the effects of alcohol, victims of sexual assault become easier targets. Perpetrators may use sexual aggression and sexual coercion.

Other Risks of College Alcohol Abuse

Sexual assault is not the only problem that arises among young people with underage alcohol abuse. Other risks of college alcohol abuse include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Alcoholism
  • Death
  • Overdose
  • Accidents
  • Legal Trouble
  • Academic Problems
  • Physical Health Issues
  • Mental Health Issues

How to Protect Yourself 

While there are certainly precautions you can take to help protect yourself from campus sexual assault, victim-blaming is wrong. No incidence of rape or sexual assault is ever the victim’s fault. Rapists and sexual predators should be held accountable for their crimes.

You can take precautions like sticking in groups, keeping an eye on your drink, and learning self-defense. But rape and sexual assault can happen to anyone.

No matter what you wear or how much you have to drink, rape and sexual assault are never warranted. Never let anyone tell you otherwise. 

How to Report Sexual Assault on College Campuses

Reporting sexual assault on college campuses may feel scary, especially at a college with a rape culture. But it’s important to report sexual assault on college campuses to prevent sexual victimization and violence against women from continuing.

Of course, reporting sexual assault is not always safe for victims. In fact, many sexually victimized students drop out of college. The dropout rate for these students is 34.1 percent, which is higher than the overall university dropout rate or 29.8 percent.

To help victims feel safer and heard, there are resources available.

  1. Call for emergency help if you’re in immediate danger. If you need immediate emergency attention, call 911.
  2. Go somewhere safe. Go somewhere as safe as possible, if you can. When you get there, do not change your clothes, bathe, douche, urinate, defecate, brush your teeth, eat, or drink. While you may understandably want to cleanse yourself, you do not want to wash away the evidence.
  3. Confide in someone you trust. Having someone with you who has your best interest in mind can help you heal. They can also help you navigate the reporting process, which can feel invasive and triggering.
  4. Report the case. Make sure that you report the case to both campus security and the police.
  5. Seek medical attention. Make sure that you tell the doctor that you are receiving medical attention for a crime. You can choose to have a sexual assault forensic exam.
  6. Know your rights. You do not have to do anything you don’t want to do. If you feel uncomfortable, you can quit the process at any time. Also, note that there is no limitation on when you can report a crime to the police. It’s never too late.
  7. Reach out for support. Support groups are available for victims of rape and sexual assault. 

Here are some Resources to learn more or report a case:

The United States Department of Justice

RAINN Hotline

If you or someone you know has been raped or sexually assaulted, reach out for help as soon as safely possible. You do not have to endure the next steps alone.

How Long Does it Take for Alcohol to Take Effect?

How Long Does it Take for Alcohol to Kick in?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol reaches your bloodstream after the first sip. Alcohol’s effects begin to set in within about 10 minutes.

However, alcohol’s effects will vary depending on your BAC or blood alcohol level/concentration. This figure represents the quantity of alcohol in your bloodstream. The more your BAC rises, the more alcohol will impact your cognitive and physical capacities. 

how long does alcoho

How quickly you drink will influence the time it takes for certain effects to occur. For example, if you participate in binge drinking, which is:

  • 5 or more alcoholic beverages within two hours for males 
  • 4 or more alcoholic beverages within two hours for females

You can experience a broader range of effects caused by excessive alcohol consumption in a shorter time.

Because drinking alcohol could pose a risk to your health, healthcare professionals recommend abstaining from consumption or having alcoholic beverages in moderation. 

What is Considered a Standard Drink?

According to guidelines established in the United States, a standard drink will not have more than 0.6 ounces (14.0 grams or 1.2 tablespoons) of pure alcohol. 

So, you can better understand how much alcohol that is in general, you can use the following drink measurements to compare:

How Long Does it Take for Alcohol to Kick in on an Empty Stomach? 

You are recommended to drink on a full stomach because food helps slow the alcohol absorption rate in the stomach and small intestine. Alcohol begins to have effects on the body within approximately 10 minutes. 

However, it is important to remember that eating food before consuming alcohol will not prevent the beverage from reaching the bloodstream. 

If you decide to drink on an empty stomach, alcohol can enter the bloodstream more quickly and raise your BAC level. If your BAC increases, you can experience different effects of alcohol, such as speech impairment or coordination problems. 

How Long Does it Take for Alcohol to Affect Brain Function?

Alcohol takes approximately 5 minutes to reach the brain, although the beverage’s effects occur around 10 minutes. 

When your BAC increases, alcohol begins to affect the brain and nervous system. This means you can experience changes in judgement and decision-making capabilities and become more uninhibited. 

At the same time, because alcohol impacts cells in the nervous system, you can feel lightheadedness, slower reaction times, and more inadequate coordination skills. 

This list describes more effects caused by alcohol on the brain and nervous system. As you’ll see, alcohol’s effects can range from mild to moderate, depending on how much and how quickly you drink:

  • Initial phase of euphoria
  • Memory and reasoning impairment 
  • Disorientation 
  • Memory loss
  • Depression
  • Blurred vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion 
  • Blackouts (loss of consciousness and memory)

In more severe cases, if your BAC reaches 0.30, you run the risk of coma or brain damage. This occurs because alcohol slows breathing and circulation, preventing oxygen from reaching the brain. 

If your BAC goes over 0.35, you could die from alcohol intoxication (poisoning) or by the brain’s inability to regulate all of your vital physical functions. 

What Do The Effects of Alcohol Feel Like?

The effects of alcohol will be different according to your BAC levels. 

If you have a BAC between 0.01-0.03, you might feel a bit more euphoric (or happy). You may even shed inhibitions. 

However, the feeling will not last. As the BAC level increases, alcohol’s effects become more intense. With a BAC between 0.16-0.20, you may experience dysphoric (unsatisfied) sensations and nausea. You may be disoriented, slurring your words and losing your balance. 

There may even come the point where your BAC is so high that you are mentally confused and need help walking. The effects of alcohol will not be pleasant and can raise the risk of health complications. 

Among adults aged 20 to 64 years, excessive drinking was the cause of 1 in 10 deaths.

How Long Do The Effects of Alcohol Last?

The duration of alcohol’s effects on the body will depend on your blood alcohol concentration  (BAC). If you remember, BAC represents the speed by which your body absorbs, distributes, metabolizes, and eliminates the beverage. 

The liver can only metabolize one standard drink per hour. This means that if you consume more than one standard drink within an hour, you increase your BAC level, and your liver needs more time to break down the alcohol.

For example, if you have a BAC of 0.08 (the legal drinking limit), your body will take approximately 5.5 hours to eliminate the alcohol. Because alcohol remains present in your system, it can still have effects on the body. 

Can You “Sleep Off” Alcohol?

No. You cannot “sleep off” alcohol. 

When you stop drinking alcohol or are unconscious/sleeping, it does not mean that your BAC will stay steady or even go down. The body will continue letting alcohol enter the bloodstream. Because alcohol circulates throughout, your BAC level can rise and cause harm to your health. 

Your body needs time, and only that, to eliminate alcohol from its system. 

Other Factors That Influence Alcohol’s Effects

The Amount of Alcohol You Drink

The quantity of alcohol consumed will influence your BAC level and, subsequently, the substance’s effects on the body. The liver cannot metabolize more than one standard drink in an hour. If you have more than that amount within the same time frame, your BAC level will rise, as well as the effects caused by alcohol. 

Alcohol Tolerance Level

Alcohol consumption impacts bodily functions and influences how you behave or act. However, if you drink alcohol on a more frequent basis, i.e. chronic drinking, you can develop tolerance to some of alcohol’s effects. 

If you have become tolerant to alcohol, consuming a constant amount of it has a lesser effect. You’ll need more alcohol to experience the same effect.

If You’ve Eaten Recently

If you drink alcohol, you should do so when you’ve eaten some food recently. Having meals, especially those high in protein, can slow the rate of alcohol that enters the bloodstream. It can also help prevent the liver from becoming overwhelmed due to alcohol metabolism. 

A lower BAC, even temporarily, could mean less severe effects caused by the substance.

Additionally, if you have diabetes, drinking alcohol on an empty stomach increases your risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels). If left untreated, hypoglycemia can cause coma and result in death. 

Your Weight

Your body weight can determine the quantity of space by which alcohol diffuses. For instance, a person who weighs 130 pounds can have two beers and a lower BAC than another person who drinks the same quantity but weighs less.

If you have a high muscle mass, your body can absorb and metabolize alcohol more effectively than a person with an elevated body fat percentage. This will help contribute to a lower BAC and, as a result, lesser effects due to alcohol consumption.

Your Biological Sex

Females will have higher BAC levels in less time than males due to biological differences:

Menstrual Cycle (Women)

It is important to say that only a few studies have assessed the role of females’ menstrual cycles on their behavioral response to alcohol in controlled laboratory conditions. 

Yet, some findings have been reported. For example, alcohol might enhance some of the dysphoric (unease or dissatisfaction) sensations during the cycle’s luteal phase (last phase). 

On the other hand, periods can increase the likelihood of dehydration. Because alcohol, too, leads to dehydration, the effects caused by the substance can be stronger.  

If You’re Taking Medications or Drugs

Your body processes alcohol in the liver. However, your liver could be responsible for breaking down other medications, e.g., Ambien (a type of drug to treat insomnia). If you take medications or drugs while drinking alcohol, you run the risk of worsening side effects or overwhelming the hepatic organ. 

Also, older or debilitated people have an increased risk of serious alcohol-medication interactions. When you get older, the body cannot process either of the substances as effectively. If both substances are present in the body for a longer time, the likelihood of interactions rises, and with that, the possibility of negative health consequences. 

Genetics

Multiple studies have shown that a leading factor influencing a person’s response to alcohol, especially in males, is a family history of alcoholism. 

More specifically, males with a first-degree family history of alcoholism were reported to be less sensitive to some behavioral effects caused by alcohol. 

Also, depending on your genes, your rate of alcohol metabolism may vary. Some people of Asian descent have a gene variant that influences how fast they can break down alcohol and causes symptoms like flushing or nausea. 

Dangers & Effects of Drinking Too Much

When you drink too much, you face both short- and long-term risks and dangers.

In the short-term, you may experience or suffer from:

In the long-term, you may experience or suffer from:

How to Prevent Overdrinking

If you would like to prevent overdrinking, there are different possibilities. 

You can:

Excessive alcohol use causes an estimated 95,000 deaths in the United States annually.

Treatment Options for Alcohol Abuse & Addiction

If you or a loved one want to quit alcohol, it is important to seek medical help. A healthcare professional can assess your case and help choose the most appropriate treatment for you.  

Different treatment programs are available, including:

Recovery from alcohol addiction is challenging but not impossible. With the help and guided support of professionals, you can live a more fulfilling life.

How to Wean off Alcohol Safely

What Does it Mean to “Taper Off Alcohol?”

Tapering off alcohol is a good way to reduce alcohol consumption without experiencing as much difficulty transitioning to being alcohol-free. However, heavy drinkers face a variety of health risks if they taper off alcohol or stop using alcohol once they’ve developed an addiction.

If you want to stop drinking (or drastically reduce alcohol intake), and you’re a moderate to heavy drinker, a slow reduction is best. If you experience symptoms of withdrawal as you taper off, you should seek medical attention. 

alcohol intake

If your body has no issue adjusting to a gradual decrease in alcohol consumption, tapering off makes it easier to break the habit of drinking.

When you taper off, you reduce alcohol consumption slowly. Exactly how this works varies based on your current drinking habits.

For example, maybe enjoy happy hour after work a few times a week. Reducing your attendance by one or more visits the first few weeks and then increasing your absences in the weeks following is tapering off.

If you drink three drinks every day, drinking two drinks a day for a week and then one drink a day for a week is tapering off. The specific process of tapering off is based on how much you currently drink and how much you’d like to drink.

How to Wean Off Alcohol Safely 

It’s important to wean off or taper alcohol use safely. In most cases, it is not safe to do so at home.

Light to moderate drinkers who want to reduce their alcohol consumption can use weaning to ease the burden of breaking social and other habits associated with drinking alcohol. Heavy drinkers, on the other hand, must have medical supervision to ensure safe detox from alcohol.

If it’s safe and you choose to taper alcohol use at home, the following steps help you make a gradual transition:

  1. Reduce the number of drinks you consume per day by one. If you don’t drink every day, reduce the number of drinks you consume on days you drink by one OR reduce the number of days you drink per week by one.
  2. Another option is to increase the length of time between drinks. Anyone can do this, but it’s especially helpful for everyday drinkers. Instead of immediately beginning your next drink, set a timer for a specific period and do not begin your next drink until this time. Some people drink water in between drinks, which makes the process even easier. It rehydrates you and gives you “something to do” so you aren’t just waiting for your next drink.
  3. Commit to the tapering method you choose. Successful tapering requires you to avoid fluctuations and adhere to whatever reduction method you choose. This lets you track your progress and recognize any negative reactions that might occur.
  4. Share your intention to taper off alcohol use with a trusted loved one. This way, someone is there to hold you accountable. 

Tapering works, but it isn’t right for everyone. Alcohol withdrawal is potentially dangerous after abusing alcohol. It can be a fatal process for heavy drinkers. Heavy drinkers, or those with alcohol dependence, who take the risk of tapering off and foregoing professional medical treatment must move slowly to reduce their risk. 

Weaning off alcohol can take weeks or months to do safely and avoid severe withdrawal symptoms.

Best Way to Stop Drinking

The best way to stop drinking, especially for those who are heavy drinkers, is to undergo treatment at an inpatient or outpatient treatment center supervised by a medical professional. This ensures you receive the supervision and medical treatment needed to manage life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. 

Alcohol withdrawal is potentially fatal. Your body will seek homeostasis when you take something from it that it is used to receiving. Sudden alcohol withdrawal is even more serious when you:

For those who are light to moderate drinkers who want to taper off, the best way to do so is to avoid going “cold turkey.” Successful breaking of a habit is almost always easier when done gradually.

What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Drinking?

Despite the risks associated with suddenly denying your body alcohol, there are many benefits, including:

Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety
  • Headache
  • Shaking
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating and clammy skin
  • Hostility or irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Appetite loss
  • Depression
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium tremens (DTs)

These symptoms vary from person to person and their severity is based on how long and how much a person drinks.

What are Delirium Tremens (DTs)?

Delirium tremens (DTs) occur when a heavy drinker stops drinking. It’s one of the most severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. The condition occurs within 48 to 72 hours after your last drink. DTs are rare and happen only about 5 percent of the time during alcohol withdrawal. 

Symptoms of DTs include:

  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • High blood pressure
  • Racing heart
  • Fever
  • Heavy sweating

Challenges of Cutting Down Alcohol Use

Reducing alcohol use is difficult for many people. Any time you change a habit, even if there is no physical addiction, the process comes with challenges. Some of these challenges include:

How Long Does it Take to Taper Off Alcohol?

The length of time it takes to taper off alcohol use varies based on how heavily a person was drinking before beginning the tapering process. 

Light to moderate drinkers should plan a tapering process of a week or more depending on their current drinking behavior.

Heavier drinkers can taper off faster with medical supervision, but the process still takes weeks or more. The initial detoxification process takes several days.

Dangers of Quitting “Cold Turkey” 

Quitting cold turkey is rarely safe or successful. People who suddenly stop alcohol consumption face risks of withdrawal. There is also a greater risk of relapse when you stop suddenly.

Additionally, there is a higher risk of overdose because of reduced tolerance. Over time, your body builds a tolerance to alcohol and more is required to achieve the same effect. When you stop drinking, this tolerance wanes. 

If you return to drinking the same amount after a period of detox, your risk of consuming too much is high.

How to Prevent Relapse

Preventing relapse after tapering off alcohol use is challenging. It helps to:

Where to Undergo Alcohol Detox

There are several options for people who want to undergo medical detox for alcohol. For example:

Following detox, both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs are available. Some people also utilize individual and family counseling and 12-step programs.

How to Choose a Program

Choosing a program is challenging, but it’s an important process to ensure you receive the treatment and support needed for a successful recovery. It helps to learn about a treatment program and evaluate the services offered before committing. 

The following questions help you make an informed decision about a treatment program:

  • Do you accept insurance?
  • Is the staff licensed?
  • Is the program medically supervised by a physician?
  • Do you provide a sample of a treatment plan?
  • Does treatment include counseling?
  • Does treatment include medication?
  • What type of relapse support does the program offer?
  • Is aftercare available?

How Much Alcohol Is Too Much?

What is Considered a Standard Drink?

Moderate alcohol consumption is common. Many people will have a drink or two during a social outing or just to enjoy themselves. But heavy drinking and consuming too much alcohol can be dangerous and even deadly.

More than 85 percent of people who are 18 years or older report have drank alcohol at some point in their lives. Some 69.5 percent report drinking in the last year, and 54.9 percent report drinking in the past month. 

Unfortunately, while not all of these people have drinking problems, some develop alcohol use disorder (AUD). In 2019, 25.8 percent of people ages 18 and up reported engaging in binge drinking in the past month. Another 6.3 percent said that they’d engaged in heavy alcohol use in the past month. About 14.1 million adults in the country have AUD.

There could be a slippery slope from drinking alcohol for pleasure and overdoing it. Sticking to a standard drink or two is the safest way to drink.

In the United States, a standard drink has about 14 grams of pure alcohol. This is found in 12 ounces of regular beer, about five ounces of wine, and about 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.

For most people, enjoying a standard drink here and there does not have significant health consequences. For others, crossing the line is easy.

What is Moderate Drinking?

Moderate drinking generally refers to about one standard drink a day for women and about two standard drinks a day for men. For example, a woman may drink one glass of wine or beer a day. And a man might enjoy two glasses of wine or two beers a day.

The key is to keep it to a minimum, while still enjoying yourself. Because once you become drunk (or too drunk), health and safety hazards come into play.

How Much Alcohol is Too Much in One Night?

How much alcohol is too much alcohol depends on the person and a number of factors. In most states, the legal driving limit (and the general definition of “drunk”) for your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 g/dL. This refers to the percentage of ethanol (in grams) in 100 milliliters of your blood.

Several factors can affect your BAC. These include, but are not limited to: 

For example, if you haven’t eaten a lot of food that day, you’ll likely get drunk faster. You may also get drunk faster than a friend who weighs more than you or who is older than you.

If/when your BAC level rises above .08 g/dL, you’ll likely start experiencing some negative side effects of being drunk. At this level, you move beyond the euphoric effects of alcohol and into the “beer goggle” stage. You start to lack judgment, and your motor skills become impaired.

If you are driving, however much alcohol it takes for you to reach the legal limit of .08 g/dL is too much alcohol. However, even if you are not driving, too high of a BAC can make you a danger to yourself and others.

It’s too much alcohol when you start to lose your inhibitions and lack control. Not only does alcohol take a toll on your health. But you also become a safety hazard to yourself and those around you. For example, many car crashes (including fatal ones) and assaults are often results of too much alcohol.

How Much Beer is Too Much?

Regular beer is typically 5 percent alcohol. Some light beers may have a 4.2 percent alcohol content. Too much beer depends on the various factors that can affect how quickly your BAC rises.

It’s considered safe for men to drink about two beers and for women to drink about one beer per day. While some people may be able to drink more beer without significant impairment, others cannot.

How Much Wine is Too Much?

About five ounces of most wines is about 12 percent alcohol. Again, how much wine is too much wine depends on a number of those same factors. But, as with beer, about two standard glasses of wine for men and one standard glass of wine for women is considered okay.

How Much Vodka is Too Much?

Because vodka (and other distilled spirits) is much stronger than beer and wine, you have to be careful that you don’t drink too much. It’s easy to find out the hard way how much vodka is too much vodka. 

About 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits like vodka is about 40 percent alcohol. Like always, pay attention to the factors that can affect your BAC.

How Does Alcohol Affect Your Body?

Alcohol affects everyone differently. When you consume alcohol, an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase in your liver breaks it down. It metabolizes it to acetaldehyde. Then it further breaks down to acetic acid.

If you drink too much too fast, you can get drunk because your body can’t break down the ethanol at the same pace. 

Alcohol affects your body in a multitude of ways. You may experience the following signs and symptoms of being drunk:

Risks of Excessive Alcohol Consumption

Excessive alcohol intake can be hazardous to your health.

Short-Term Risks

Short-term risks of drinking alcohol include, but are not limited to, the following:

Long-Term Risks

Over time, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to a lot of harmful health conditions and health risks. These include the following:

Drinking too many alcoholic beverages can kill you. In fact, an estimated 95,000 people (approximately 68,000 men and 27,000 women) die from alcohol-related reasons every year.

Who Should Not Drink Alcohol?

You should not drink alcohol if you identify with any of the following statements:

Signs of Alcohol Use Disorder (Addiction)

Alcohol use disorder affects more people than you may think. Some signs of alcohol use disorder include:

Treatment for Alcohol Abuse & Addiction

The journey to sobriety can be tough to do on your own. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be severe, so it’s important that you seek medical help for addiction treatment. Fortunately, alcohol addiction treatment is readily available to help you along the road to recovery.

Reach out to your local inpatient or outpatient rehab center, or contact support groups in your area. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) may also benefit you by helping you to unpack any triggers.

How Much Wine is Too Much?

How Much Wine is Too Much?

The United States Department of Health and Human Services defines one serving of wine as 5 ounces for table wine and 3 to 4 ounces for fortified wine (such as sherry or port).

As specified in the United States Dietary Guidelines, moderate drinking is two alcoholic beverages or less daily (for men) and one alcoholic beverage or less daily (for women).    

Drinking alcohol at levels above these guidelines significantly increases the risk of short-term effects, such as injuries. It also raises the risk of long-term chronic health problems, such as some types of cancer and other serious illnesses.

I Drink a Bottle of Wine a Day, Do I Have a Drinking Problem?

If you drink an entire bottle of wine every day, you are well above the U.S. government’s recommendation for safe alcohol consumption, as a typical bottle of wine contains five glasses of wine.

However, while drinking a full bottle of wine can be considered excessive when looking at moderate drinking measures, it doesn’t necessarily indicate alcohol abuse or a drinking problem.

If you think you may have a drinking problem, you should get a medical evaluation from a doctor who can determine whether your drinking habits are problematic.

How Much Wine is OK to Drink Daily?

Drinking any amount of alcohol poses health risks. However, both the U.S. Dietary Guidelines and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that adults of legal drinking age consume no more than one glass per day (for women) and no more than two glasses per day (for men). 

Drinking moderate amounts of alcohol, and not exceeding these recommendations, will decrease the risk of developing significant health problems.

Is Any Amount of Red Wine Healthy to Drink?

Many studies suggest that drinking red wine may provide health benefits. Red wine contains antioxidants that are necessary for optimal cardiovascular function. It might also prevent various chronic diseases. More specifically, the antioxidants in red wine may prevent cardiovascular diseases, some cancers, and diabetes.

In one study, red wine consumption decreased the blood pressure of hypertensive patients. In another study, compared with people who don’t drink, moderate alcohol drinkers had a 26% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, 35% lower risk of total mortality, and 51% lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality if the alcohol they drank was mostly red wine.

Some studies have found improved health among moderate wine drinkers. However, this doesn’t necessarily indicate that these enhanced health benefits are due to wine consumption alone. These improved outcomes may be caused by other differences in behaviors or genetics between people who drink moderately and those who don’t.

Who is More at Risk of Drinking Too Much Wine?

Women generally face greater risks of drinking too much wine compared with men. 

Women tend to have alcohol-related problems sooner and at lower drinking levels than men do. 

Women face these issues because they tend to weigh less and have less water in their bodies than men, which causes alcohol to metabolize slower. 

On the other hand, men develop alcohol dependency at a much greater rate than women do. About half of all men in America have alcohol-related problems of one form or another.

While men and women of legal drinking age may be able to consume wine without developing significant health problems, some people should not drink alcohol at all, such as:

  • People who are pregnant or might be pregnant
  • People under the legal age for drinking
  • People with certain medical conditions or those who take medications that interact with alcohol
  • People who are recovering from an alcohol use disorder or are unable to control the amount they drink

Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

Healthcare professionals use criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to assess whether a person has AUD and to determine the severity of the disorder.

The following symptoms may indicate Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD):

Any of these symptoms may be a cause for concern. The more symptoms that are present, the more urgent the need for change.

If you experience two or more of these symptoms, you should seek a medical evaluation from a doctor. They can determine whether you have an alcohol use disorder or not. 

Dangers of Excessive Alcohol Consumption

Excessive alcohol consumption (including binge drinking) poses significant health risks. 

The short-term health risks of excessive alcohol consumption include:

In addition to these immediate health concerns, excessive alcohol consumption or heavy drinking over time can cause chronic diseases and other serious health problems.

The long-term health risks of excessive alcohol consumption include:

By avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, you can reduce the risk of these short- and long-term health risks.

Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

Many people struggle with alcohol problems and addiction throughout their lives. In the United States alone, about 17 million adults have an alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Most people with alcohol addiction can benefit from treatment. About one-third of people who receive treatment for alcohol problems have no further symptoms one year later. Others successfully reduce their drinking and report fewer alcohol-related problems.

There are various treatment methods currently available, including inpatient, outpatient, and partial hospitalization programs. There is no universal solution for alcohol addiction, and what may work for some people may not work for others. 

To find the best treatment for alcohol addiction, speak with an addiction specialist who can advise on the best treatment options for you.

Night Sweats and Alcohol

Can Alcohol Cause Night Sweats?

Night sweats occur while people are sleeping. They are defined as repeated episodes of intense perspiration, typically enough to soak your clothes and bedding. Night sweats can happen if you are sleeping in a warm room with too many blankets. In these cases, they are generally not linked to a medical condition.

Repeated and extreme night sweats may be caused by an underlying condition, such as cancer, menopause, an infection, medications, or an autoimmune disease. You’ll likely experience fever, weight loss, localized pain, diarrhea, coughing, or other symptoms of illness in addition to the night sweats.

night sweats alcohol

Night sweats can also be linked to alcohol consumption. Heavy drinking results in severe intoxication, which may cause vomiting, upset stomach, slurred speech, coordination problems, and severe sweating. Even moderate drinking can result in night sweats. 

How Does Alcohol Cause Night Sweats?

No matter how much alcohol you drink, you may experience night sweats when you go to sleep. This is because alcohol is toxic. Your body recognizes that it is a toxin, so it tries to get rid of the substance as quickly as possible through perspiration. Alcohol also affects the nervous system and how the body regulates your heart, blood pressure, and body temperature. It widens your blood vessels and increases your heart rate, which causes sweating. 

In rare cases, alcohol-induced night sweats may be a symptom of alcohol intolerance (a genetic condition). The most common symptoms include nausea, itching, rashes, swelling, and severe stomach pain after drinking. Flushing of the neck, face, and chest can also occur if you drink too much.

Are Night Sweats a Symptom of Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol is an addictive depressant substance. It has a sedating effect on the central nervous system (CNS) and brain when it enters the body. Drinking heavily and in excess over a long period changes the chemistry of the brain. This results in alcohol dependence (alcohol use disorder), which means the body has become physically dependent on alcohol. 

When a person with alcohol use disorder stops drinking, they will experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms occur within a few hours or days after the person’s last drink.

One possible symptom of alcohol withdrawal is night sweats. Excessive alcohol consumption can induce sweating because it negatively affects the heart and increases heart rate. As the heart rhythm becomes too fast and irregular, the blood vessels in the skin widen. This process is medically known as vasodilation (the skin becomes flushed due to dilated blood vessels, and severe sweating occurs). 

If you drink heavily and experience night sweats after stopping alcohol use, it could be a sign of alcohol withdrawal. 

Other Common Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal vary and may or may not include night sweats. People who develop moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms are more likely to have night sweats. 

Withdrawal symptoms range from mild to severe and can be life-threatening. If you develop any of the following withdrawal symptoms after stopping alcohol use, it may be a sign that you have alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Mild withdrawal symptoms:

Moderate withdrawal symptoms:

Severe withdrawal symptoms:

Severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms can result in delirium tremens (DTs). This is the most serious and life-threatening form of alcohol withdrawal that requires urgent medical attention. Signs of DTs include, but are not limited to:

Anyone undergoing alcohol withdrawal should do so under the guidance of medical professionals in an inpatient treatment facility (detox). Alcohol addiction treatment is the most effective way to recover and abstain from alcohol long-term.  

Common Questions and Answers

How long do night sweats last after you quit drinking?

Night sweats that are caused by alcohol withdrawal typically only last a few days. However, they can last longer in some people. How long they last depend on the severity of withdrawal symptoms (ranging from mild to life-threatening).

What are some other possible causes of night sweats?

Sometimes mild night sweats do not have an underlying cause and are nothing to worry about. Frequent and severe night sweats, though, may be caused by an underlying health condition. They can be a side effect of taking certain medications or menopause. Autoimmune diseases, cancer (such as lymphoma), and infections can also trigger severe night sweats. It is best to seek medical advice if you are concerned.

Can drinking alcohol cause hot flashes?

Yes, alcohol can trigger hot flashes. This is because alcohol causes vasodilation (blood vessel expansion), which leads to sweating and makes you feel warmer. Red wine is especially linked to hot flashes, but this varies.

How are night sweats different from hot flashes?

Hot flashes are typically related to menopause. These flashes are sudden feelings of extreme body heat that can occur during the day or night.

Night sweats are different from hot flashes because they only occur while sleeping. They also result in severe perspiration, often soaking your bedding and clothes (to the point where you have to change them).

Can alcohol intolerance cause night sweats?

Alcohol intolerance is a genetic condition that makes it difficult for the body to break down (metabolize) the toxins in alcohol. Flushing of the neck, face, and chest after drinking is a common symptom of alcohol intolerance. This condition can also increase your heart rate and cause an overheating sensation in the body, resulting in night sweats.