Wellness: How Much Booze Is Too Much?

November 7 2012, 1:02 PM

Last night I clinked a glass of champagne in celebration and pretty much downed it. Then I picked up my neglected glass of wine and proceeded to polish that off as well. It was my third—over five or so hours…but still. This morning I woke up craving a glass of water and feeling decidedly less-than-stellar. It got me thinking about my alcohol consumption habits.

Election night was a special occasion, and I know I wasn’t alone in imbibing, whether you were toasting the future or drowning your sorrows. But I have had a drink every single night in recent memory. This is not the first time I’ve struck this realization—it usually comes right after the holidays in January and sparks some sort of healthy detox commitment that I may or may not stick to for several weeks. And it’s not that I’m worried about having a “problem”; in fact, if I have a problem, I’d venture to say most people I know have a problem. Maybe election night spurred my self-realization a little early this year, but it's always something: happy hour to catch up with a friend, a networking event at a bar downtown, kicking back to relax after a long stressful week—and that glass of wine (or two) has become habit. But am I being unhealthy? Is everyone else in the country drinking just as much? Here, a few numbers on our collective boozing.

From Gallup:

64: Percentage of American adults who say they drink alcohol.

36: Percentage of drinkers who prefer beer; among young adults, that statistic fell from 51 percent in 2010 to 39 percent today.

35/23: Percentage of drinkers who prefer wine and liquor, respectively.

 

From NPR:

1: Percentage of total spending Americans dedicate to alcohol purchases—50 percent more on retail booze for home consumption than in bars and restaurants, although our bar/restaurant spending has shot up in the last 30 years.

 

From the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA):

1: Number of daily drinks a woman can have to be considered a “moderate” drinker; men can have 2 drinks a day.

11.6/22.5: Percentage of men and women, respectively, who call themselves “lifetime abstainers” (never consume even one drink).

1.5: Percentage of women who were pregnant in the last year but did not reduce their alcohol consumption during pregnancy (as of March 2011).

 

From the Colorado Health Foundation:

5/4: Number of drinks that men and women, respectively, can consume on one occasion to be considered binge drinking.

27: Colorado’s rank, out of 50 states, for binge drinking.

20: Percentage of Colorado adults who have engaged in binge drinking at least once in the past month.

80,000: Number of Americans who die each year from alcohol abuse.

 

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