Did You Look Forward To Last Night's Bottle Of Wine A Bit Too Much?

Did You Look Forward To Last Night's Bottle Of Wine A Bit Too Much?
Australia’s alcohol guidelines recommend women and men drink no more than two standard drinks per day. Kelsey Chance

Close to 40,000 people, mostly women, have given up alcohol for FebFast and many others participated in Dry July.

These events began as fundraisers for various social causes. But the main reasons people cite for participating are related to personal benefits, including giving their body a break from alcohol and improving their health.

The proportion of young people drinking has decreased over the past ten years. But more women in their 40s and 50s are drinking at risky levels. And women are catching up to men when it comes to drinking at levels that damage health.

Women’s relationship with alcohol has become a hot topic. Many women, including celebrities Nigella Lawson, Kristen Davis and Jada Pinkett Smith, have been vocal about their decisions to reduce drinking to improve their health and well-being.

Women are affected by alcohol more than men

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

If a man and a woman drink the same amount, in general a woman’s blood alcohol concentration will be higher.

Women tend to be smaller and lighter than men; a person who is a lighter weight or who has a smaller body frame will be more affected than someone who weighs more or has a larger body frame. If the same amount of alcohol is going into a smaller body there will be a higher concentration of alcohol.

 Get The Latest From InnerSelf

Even if a man and woman are the same size, women tend to have a higher percentage of body fat and a lower percentage of body water than men.

Here’s what happens when we take the first, second and fifth drink.

Dehydrogenase is the enzyme that breaks down alcohol in the body. Women tend to have less active dehydrogenase and therefore take longer to process alcohol, so they will get drunk faster and have alcohol in their system for longer.

Women who drink experience health problems sooner and that are more severe than men who drink the same amount.

Women are less likely to seek help

Even when women are experiencing problems with alcohol, they are less likely to seek help than men. Women represent only one-third of Australians who receive treatment from a specialist alcohol and drug treatment service.

Barriers to women seeking treatment include social stigma, fear of losing their children, and lack of availability of specific programs for women.

How can too much affect your health?

Alcohol can increase the risk of significant health problems, including cancer, brain damage, liver disease and heart disease.

Women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant should not drink alcohol at all until the baby is born.

If you drink while pregnant, the alcohol can go through your blood and to the baby. This can cause deformities and cognitive damage in the baby, known as fetal alcohol syndrome.

If you are breastfeeding, small amounts of alcohol can go through the breast milk to the baby. It’s better to drink after breastfeeding times rather than before or during.

How much is too much?

The idea that a little bit of alcohol is good for your health has now been debunked.

The Australian alcohol guidelines recommend healthy adults (men and women) should drink no more than two standard drinks on any day to reduce lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease.

Did You Look Forward To Last Night's Bottle Of Wine A Bit Too Much? Two standard drinks equals around 200ml of wine. Chris Montgomery

The guidelines also recommend consuming a maximum of four standard drinks on a single occasion to reduce the risk of alcohol-related injury.

The percentage of pure alcohol varies across different types of drinks, so the guidelines convert alcohol to standard drinks. In Australia, a standard drink contains ten grams of alcohol, which equates to 100mls of wine or 285mls of regular strength beer or cider (a middy* or pot) or 30mls of regular strength spirit. A cosmopolitan or mojito typically has two or three standard drinks.

Signs you need may need to cut back

Are you:

  • drinking every day or nearly every day? Daily drinking is associated with dependence

  • drinking more than the recommended limits? Drinking more than two drinks on any day is associated with long-term health problems

  • needing to drink more to get the same effect? This indicates growing tolerance to alcohol and is an early sign of dependence

  • having difficulty taking a break or cutting back, or drinking more than you intended to? These are signs that you have less control over how much you drink

  • finding that drinking is interfering with day-to-day activities on a regular basis, for example being late for work because you have a hangover?

  • noticing your well-being is affected, for example, you get feelings of anxiety or depression during or after drinking, or you have trouble sleeping? Alcohol can be relaxing while you are drinking, but it can make anxiety, depression and sleep problems worse

  • doing things while you are drinking that you later regret?

If so, it’s time to reassess your drinking. This online assessment tool may help.

Did You Look Forward To Last Night's Bottle Of Wine A Bit Too Much? If drinking is interfering with your day-to-day activities, it might be time to cut back. Stage 7 Photography

How to cut back

If you’re drinking more than you’d like to, make a plan to cut back. This might include:

  • setting a limit that reduces health risks

  • having alcohol-free days every week

  • having non-alcoholic “spacers” before and in-between alcoholic drinks

  • sipping your drinks rather than gulping them down. Slowing your drinking enables your body to process the alcohol and you also end up drinking less

  • trying drinks with a lower alcohol content

  • eating before and/or while you are drinking. This helps slow the absorption of alcohol

  • avoiding “shouts”. If you do, don’t feel like you need to keep up with everyone else. You can skip a round or two.

Where to get help cutting back or quitting

Most women who drink alcohol, even those who drink a little too much, don’t need specialist treatment, but taking a break from alcohol can improve your physical and mental well-being.

If you need help to cut back there are some resources online that may help (such as Hello Sunday Morning).

Your GP is a good place to start if you have questions or concerns about your drinking.

You can also talk to someone on the phone or online for information:

CounsellingOnline is a free online chat for concerns about alcohol and other drugs. Anyone can use it – people using drugs and people wanting to help friends or family using drugs.

National Alcohol and other Drug Hotline is a free telephone information and counselling service similar to CounselingOnline, but on the phone. They can be reached at 1800 250 015.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

About the Author

Nicole Lee, Professor at the National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University

Recommended Books: Health

Fresh Fruit CleanseFresh Fruit Cleanse: Detox, Lose Weight and Restore Your Health with Nature's Most Delicious Foods [Paperback] by Leanne Hall.
Lose weight and feel vibrantly healthy while clearing your body of toxins. Fresh Fruit Cleanse offers everything you need for an easy and powerful detox, including day-by-day programs, mouth-watering recipes, and advice for transitioning off the cleanse.
Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.

Thrive FoodsThrive Foods: 200 Plant-Based Recipes for Peak Health [Paperback] by Brendan Brazier.
Building upon the stress-reducing, health-boosting nutritional philosophy introduced in his acclaimed vegan nutrition guide Thrive, professional Ironman triathlete Brendan Brazier now turns his attention to your dinner plate (breakfast bowl and lunch tray too).
Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.

Death by Medicine by Gary NullDeath by Medicine by Gary Null, Martin Feldman, Debora Rasio and Carolyn Dean
The medical environment has become a labyrinth of interlocking corporate, hospital, and governmental boards of directors, infiltrated by the drug companies. The most toxic substances are often approved first, while milder and more natural alternatives are ignored for financial reasons. It's death by medicine.
Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.


follow InnerSelf on


 Get The Latest By Email



Why Donald Trump Could Be History's Biggest Loser
by Robert Jennings, InnerSelf.com
Updated July 2, 20020 - This whole coronavirus pandemic is costing a fortune, maybe 2 or 3 or 4 fortunes, all of unknown size. Oh yeah, and, hundreds of thousands, maybe a million, of people will die…
Blue-Eyes vs Brown Eyes: How Racism is Taught
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf
In this 1992 Oprah Show episode, award-winning anti-racism activist and educator Jane Elliott taught the audience a tough lesson about racism by demonstrating just how easy it is to learn prejudice.
A Change Is Gonna Come...
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf
(May 30, 2020) As I watch the news on the events in Philadephia and other cities in the country, my heart aches for what is transpiring. I know that this is part of the greater change that is taking…
A Song Can Uplift the Heart and Soul
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf
I have several ways that I use to clear the darkness from my mind when I find it has crept in. One is gardening, or spending time in nature. The other is silence. Another way is reading. And one that…
Mascot for the Pandemic and Theme Song for Social Distancing and Isolation
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf
I came across a song recently and as I listened to the lyrics, I thought it would be a perfect song as a "theme song" for these times of social isolation. (Lyrics below the video.)