A high risk drinker may not realize that they should be worried or have a problem with alcohol. Certainly, binge drinkers fall into this category. However, you might be surprised to learn who else could be considered a high risk drinker. If they are not alcoholics already, they could certainly be headed in that direction.
Take Matthew for instance. After work he looks forward to having a few beers and relaxing. After all, he’s earned it…or at least that’s what he tells himself. What’s the harm in kicking back after work? He doesn’t see his drinking as an issue, but his wife would disagree. His idea of a “few” is actually 9 or 10 beers a night. Matthew doesn’t act drunk, or at least he thinks he doesn’t. Nevertheless, many of times, Matt cannot remember what he and his wife talked about the previous night, or the argument they had.
Matthew finds ways to justify his behavior and make excuses for himself. He is able to believe the lies he tells himself. His wife, on the other hand, sees it for what it is. After months of trying to convince him, Matt finally agrees to see a drug and alcohol specialist for his drinking patterns.
At the appointment, it was explained to Matt that his drinking is certainly considered high risk. The fact that he consumes a great quantity of alcohol on a daily basis is concerning. Matt’s drinking is considered excessive.
High Risk Drinking Falls into Two Basic Categories
Excessive drinkers are considered to be high risk drinkers. Nevertheless, what exactly constitutes excessive or heavy drinking?
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offers some basic guidelines concerning heavy drinking. The criteria includes the following:
- Consumption of five or more drinks at one occasion
- Drinking at the aforementioned rate at least five or more days in one month
And what about binge drinking? Do you know the difference? The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) separates binge drinking depending upon the gender of the individual. Additionally, individuals who make it a habit to drink until blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) or over 0.08% can also be considered binge drinkers.
Females who generally consume four or more drinks in a two-hour period are considered to be binge drinkers. As for men, binge drinking occurs after the consumption of five or more drinks in the same period of time. Often times, casual drinkers are surprised to learn that they are binge drinkers or high risk drinker. What they believed to be normal behavior, is in fact, dangerous and high risk.
Health Hazards Associated with Being A High Risk Drinker
As you would suspect, high risk drinkers are susceptible to AUDs, otherwise known as alcohol use disorders, and of course, alcoholism is the largest concern. Obviously intoxication and impairment can create several issues and consequences, nevertheless, alcoholism has it’s own set of health issues and risk factors. Some of those health concerns can include, but are not limited to:
- Effects on the brain, including cognitive and memory functions
- Potential heart and liver damage
- Increase probability of cancer
- Troubles with immune system
- Psychological difficulties, such as depression
You should also be aware of the warning signs of high risk drinking. If your loved one begins to present with any and/or all of these factors, they may in fact be a high risk drinker. It is important to be able to recognize any red flags, so intervention can be made before they progress into alcoholism. Some warning signs can include:
- They are drinking larger quantities of alcohol more often.
- Begin drinking alcohol every day.
- Their mood seems “off” when they are sober i.e. moody, irritable, short-tempered
- They begin to isolate more often
- They start drinking and driving
- Spending more money on alcohol compared to bills or other necessities
- They are intoxicated more than they are sober
If you suspect you or a loved one is a high risk drinker, it important to reevaluate your situation and behavior. Typically high risk drinkers progress into alcoholism if they do not address the problem and get the help they need. That does not have to be a part of your story. Your “bottom” does not have to include the suffering that most alcoholics experience. You can get the help you need before ever having to get to that point.
For more than 4 decades, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has been providing effective drug and alcohol treatment to those suffering from substance abuse and chemical dependency. If you or someone you love is struggling, you can have the opportunity to recover as well. Secluded in the beautiful mountains of northeastern PA, you will be able to begin your journey to wellness in a peaceful and serene environment. If you are ready to begin your new life in recovery, please contact our Admissions Specialists today. They are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you have regarding our programming and services.