I’m writing a guide for adult children of alcoholics (will be available very soon!) and I wanted to include some basic data on what alcoholism is and what “too much drinking” definitions look like these days. Why? Because growing up with alcoholic parents can really mess with your sense of reality. It’s tough to trust that what you are seeing is what you are really seeing. Especially when the adults in your life tell you you’re not seeing what you’re seeing. We basically grew up in Gaslighting 101. So I wanted to give some data to anyone who thinks someone in their life might be drinking too much so they have some facts with them when they decide to have a conversation about drinking with their loved one.

The drinking “limits” surprised me. I’ve never had a problem with alcohol and drink wine with dinner frequently. (Though I’ve recently stopped drinking to support a loved one in their sobriety. It’s been so eye-opening!) But I can see myself in these numbers. I see nearly everyone I know in these numbers – people who in no way seem to have a “drinking problem” but definitely go out 1x week and have 4 drinks. What I grew up with looked REALLY different. It was never just a few drinks each night. It was a drink all day and miss work kind of a thing. So it can sometimes be a slippery slope, especially if our idea of “too much alcohol” is warped by what we saw growing up.

So I share this because: it shines a light on how “acceptable” (even expected?) drinking is in our society, it may help you have a tough convo with a loved one, and it might help you personally in revisiting your own drinking. No judgements. Just a little bit of whoa.

Moderate Drinking: 1 drink per day for women, 2 drinks per day for men.
Binge Drinking: A pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to .08 g/dL. This typically occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men in about 2 hours.
Heavy Alcohol Use: Binge drinking on 5 or more days in the past month.
26.9% of people ages 18 and older reported they engaged in binge drinking in the past month.
7% reported they engaged in heavy alcohol use in the past month.

All stats from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism