In the United States drinking has been present in social gatherings and celebrations for much of its history. And although the legal drinking age remains at 21 years old, reports show that an increasing amount of underaged people are picking up the habit too. The consequences of this vary depending on many factors, but one of the main consequences of this is the growing population of adults who have not been properly educated about healthy alcohol intake, that may later grow into some major health problems caused by over drinking.
It is essential that we address this situation as early on as possible in order to cultivate educated adults who know the consequences of drinking too much alcohol, know how much alcohol is too much, and also know how to handle situations like alcohol abuse and alcoholism. The young are our future and it should be most important that we impart unto them how to drink and have fun in a healthy, moderate way.
What Does A Healthy Amount of Alcohol Look Like?
The “correct” or “healthy” amount of alcohol that a person can consume depends on 2 things: whether you are a man or a woman, and the type of alcoholic beverage you are consuming. It is recommended that a man drink 3 to 4 units daily, and a woman drink 2 to 3 units daily. Below we will show you how much of what kind of alcohol is equal to how many units:
- One-half pint (284ml) of 4% alcohol content beer = 1 unit
- One single spirit shot (25ml) of 40% alcohol content liquor = 1 unit
- One small glass of wine (125ml) of 12.5% alcohol content wine = 1.5 units
- One large bottle or can (440ml) of 4.5% alcohol content beer = 2 units
- One bottle of wine (750ml) of 12.5% alcohol content wine = 7 units
- One standard bottle (750ml) of 40% alcohol content liquor = 30 units
Any more than the daily recommended units for a man or woman can be harmful to one’s health and people are advised to stay under the daily recommended units in order to preserve health and not abuse the alcohol intake limit. Also, remember that the legal alcohol limit in the USA is 0.08% (equal to an around 4 units of alcohol for a man of average size and 3 units for average women) for residential drivers, and any amount over this limit is considered illegal while driving.
Health Risks of Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol can have a major impact on the human body no matter what stage of life the person is in. In moderation, alcohols like dry red wine are seen as benign in some countries, and people are encouraged to drink one or two glasses of wine a day. According to many studies conducted across the globe, dry red wine helps remove toxins from the body and some studies even show it improves brain function, but this may vary depending on the person. On the other hand, drinking more than the suggested 5oz of red wine might pose the risk of high blood pressure, small changes in sleep cycles, and trouble concentrating on your tasks if the consumption is daily.
For people that are still in the developing stages (0 to 25), alcohol can either alter or slow down the rate of growth. The risk in children is immense since it can even cause brain damage or stun growth altogether. When teens consume alcohol their physical growth may slow down, and the essential decision-making development can suffer as well. Not to mention that a person in their teen years is highly susceptible to suffering liver complications due to alcohol abuse, developing addiction or dependence problems surrounding alcohol, and are at risk of heart disease or heart failure in the future.
Full-grown adults may experience high blood pressure; develop the risk of cardiovascular disease; or even the risk of stroke. It is also quite important to maintain a moderate drinking habit since almost any person is pretty much always at risk of developing unhealthy drinking habits. These habits are influenced by external forces as well, such as being single, being married, or having been divorced; and these influences have been under a microscope for the past decade.
The University of Virginia has recently conducted a study about the influence that being single, having a live-in partner, and being married have on adult’s drinking habits. Having observed 2,000 same-sex twins, they studied the amount and the frequency in which the 3 different categories of individuals drank. The study concluded that men with a live-in partner drink more often, but drank less in one sitting than married men and that people who had been divorced and were then single drank the most in one sitting of all three categories. This concludes that people who have someone in their lives that keep an eye on them (also called the “monitoring effect” were less likely to over drink or develop a serious drinking problem than those who do not.
People who are in the 3rd age are also at great risk if they don’t keep a healthy drinking habit or abuse the use of alcohol altogether. More than likely drinkers in their 3rd age have been drinking at least since their adult age (25 or so) meaning that they have been drinking for longer. The long-term effects of unhealthy drinking habits are very serious and in many cases irreversible. Cirrhosis of the liver, increased risk of cancer, cardiomyopathy and cardiovascular disease, gout, and pancreatitis are only a portion of the myriad of complications caused by heavy drinking. Binge drinking also poses an undeniable risk of most of these complications.
And on a final note, all the accidents caused by intoxicated behavior have increased by around 20% in the past decade. According to Wikipedia there were around 37,461 people who were killed in 34,436 crashes in 2016 which average out to about 102 deaths by car accident a day; and 28% of all accidents are estimated to be caused purely by alcohol abuse. Also around 2,000 children under the age of 16 are estimated to die each year due to car accidents. Do not drink and drive. Ever.