What Is At-Risk Drinking?

While any alcohol use has the potential to contribute to problems – alcohol use impairs driving skills even when not legally drunk – studies show that certain drinking patterns are associated with an increased likelihood of problems. Hence certain drinking patterns define “at-risk” drinking.
What defines at-risk drinking?

For men, at-risk drinking is drinking more than 4 standard doses of alcohol in a day (10 grams of alcohol or a drink*), and/or more than 14 drinks per week. For women, the numbers are 3 doses in a day and/or 7 drinks per week. Are you an at-risk drinker?

*One drink = 12oz of beer or 5 oz of wine or 1.5 oz of liquor


What kind of problems can arise from at-risk drinking?

Accidents, injuries, arguments, fights (both verbal and physical), legal problems (including DUI), relationship problems, undesirable and even dangerous sex, including unsafe and unprotected sex are more likely with at-risk drinking. Many health problems are also more likely, including sleep problems, hangovers, cancer, liver disease, stroke, depression, anxiety, and a greater possibility of an Alcohol Use Disorder.

What Is an Alcohol Use Disorder?

An Alcohol Use Disorder is drinking that causes recognizable harm and/or distress. The established harm of an Alcohol Use Disorder differentiates the Use Disorder from at-risk drinking, since at-risk drinking only predicts an increased probability of problems. Alcohol Abuse, Alcohol Dependence, and alcoholism are other terms used to describe an Alcohol Use Disorder.

Find out how the BASICS program at OWHP in the Engemann Student Health Center can help students with alcohol related issues.

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