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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.
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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):
- Drinking more, or for longer, than intended
- Spending an excessive amount of time drinking or getting over the effects of alcohol
- An inability to cut back on alcohol consumption or stop drinking
- Intense cravings or urges to drink alcohol
- Drinking or being sick from drinking that interferes with taking care of home, work, or school responsibilities
- Engaging in risky behavior during or after drinking
- Drinking alcohol despite it causing problems with family or friends
- Cutting back on or giving up activities that were formerly important in favor of drinking alcohol
- Drinking despite it causing depression, anxiety, or contributing to other mental health issues
- Experiencing memory blackouts
- An increased alcohol tolerance or needing an increased alcohol intake to achieve the same effects
- Withdrawal symptoms include trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, racing heart, seizures, or hallucinations
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:
- Bodily injuries, such as car crashes, burns, or falls
- Violence including assault, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, homicide, and suicide
- Alcohol poisoning (intoxication)
- Risky sexual behaviors, which can result in unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV and Hep C
- Miscarriage, stillbirth, or fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) among pregnant women
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:
- Cardiovascular problems including high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease
- Liver damage, cirrhosis, or other liver diseases
- Digestive problems
- Cancers including breast cancer or cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon
- A weakening of the immune system, increasing the chances of getting sick
- Learning and memory problems, including dementia and low school or work performance
- Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety
- Social issues, including low productivity, family problems, and unemployment
- Alcohol use disorders, or alcohol dependence
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.
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