What Is Considered Heavy Drinking?

Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS

on October 28, 2023

Heavy drinking means consuming at least 8 drinks in one week for women or 15 drinks in one week for men. Heavy drinking is a form of excessive alcohol use, which can increase your risk of serious health problems.

Heavy drinking is defined as 8 or more standard drinks per week for women and 15 or more standard drinks per week for men. Some organizations define heavy drinking as binge drinking more than 5 times per month. 

Generally, heavy drinking is defined as excessive alcohol use over long periods of time. 

In 2021, about 18 percent of Ohio adults reported either binge drinking or heavy drinking at least once in the past month. This is slightly higher than the American average.

In Ohio, heavy alcohol use is linked to health risks such as high blood pressure, alcohol addiction, liver disease, and other serious side effects. If you or a loved one cannot stop drinking alcohol, you may benefit from a professional alcohol rehab program.

Definition Of Heavy Drinking

Definitions of heavy drinking vary between organizations. 

The CDC defines heavy drinking as 8 or more standard drinks per week for women and 15 or more standard drinks per week for men. SAMHSA defines heavy drinking as binge drinking at least 5 times in one month.

Binge drinking is defined as drinking 4 to 5 standard drinks in one sitting for women and men, respectively. A standard drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.

While heavy drinking refers to excessive alcohol consumption over a long period of time, binge drinking involves drinking a large amount of alcohol in one sitting. 

Binge drinking may be different from heavy drinking, but both forms of excessive drinking can be harmful to your health.

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Risks Of Heavy Drinking

Heavy drinking can cause serious side effects in the short-term and the long-term. Short-term health risks of heavy drinking can include:

  • an increased risk of motor vehicle crashes
  • increased risk of accidents, such as falls, burns, or drowning
  • alcohol poisoning
  • loss of judgment
  • breathing problems

Alcohol can affect your decision-making and coordination, which can be dangerous when you drink heavily.

Long-Term Health Problems

Excessive drinking over long periods of time can put you at risk for long-term health problems, such as:

  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • liver cirrhosis
  • various forms of cancer, such as esophagus, colon, or breast cancer

Alcohol affects some preexisting medical conditions, such as stomach problems, heart problems, or liver problems. Your Ohio doctor may suggest you avoid drinking alcohol depending on your medical history.

Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol use disorder, also known as alcohol addiction or AUD, is a mental health condition where you cannot stop drinking alcohol. Heavy drinking patterns are a risk factor for developing AUD, as you may be drinking alcohol frequently.

One aspect of AUD is alcohol dependency, where your body needs alcohol to function normally. If you try to stop drinking in this state, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms, such as cravings, seizures, and psychosis, can make quitting difficult.

If you or a loved one are struggling with your alcohol consumption in Ohio, a professional treatment program can help you reduce or stop drinking entirely. Contact Ohio Recovery Center for personalized alcohol addiction treatment options that work for you or your loved one.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/onlinemedia/infographics/excessive-alcohol-use.html
  2. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/moderate-binge-drinking
  3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/alcohol-use-facts-resources-fact-sheet.pdf

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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