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What is Moderate Drinking?

When the weather cools down and the leaves begin to change, many people get ready for all the social gatherings that come along with the season. There are many reasons to get together in the fall: football games, holiday celebrations, and cozy dinners with friends and family.

With the increase in social gatherings, many people find that they may be encouraged to drink more alcohol than they typically do. When one glass of wine with dinner turns into three or four, or the empty bottles pile up during the game, some people may wonder if their drinking habits are healthy or problematic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises people who choose to drink alcohol to do so in moderation. But what does this mean, exactly?

This article will explore what moderate drinking means, how to spot signs of alcohol abuse and addiction, and how to find the treatment and support you need to get back on track. Contact the Mandala Healing Center specialists today to learn more about our holistic alcohol abuse treatment programs.

What is Moderate Drinking?

Moderate drinking can mean different things in different parts of the world and from person to person. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines to define moderate drinking, which is not associated with significant short or long-term harm to your health.

According to the CDC, moderate drinking is defined as:

  •  One or fewer alcoholic beverages per day for women
  •  Two or fewer alcoholic drinks per day for men

These guidelines are meant to help people make informed choices about their alcohol consumption. But it is important to know what a “drink” means.

According to the CDC, a drink is defined as:

  •  5 oz of wine
  •  12 oz of beer
  •  1.5 oz of distilled spirits like vodka, whiskey, or tequila
  •  8 oz of malt liquor

Many beverages served in bars and restaurants may contain more than one “drink” according to these guidelines. For instance, a standard pint of beer (16 ounces) contains more than one “drink.” 

Beyond Moderate Drinking

Because we live in a culture where alcohol use is accepted and common, it can be easy to drink more than the recommended amount without even noticing it. It’s crucial to keep track of how much you drink over the course of a week and try to drink in moderation.

There are several types of unhealthy drinking patterns that people can fall into. The first is heavy drinking. Heavy drinking means consuming more alcohol in a week than is recommended. For women, heavy drinking is defined as having eight or more alcoholic beverages weekly. For men, heavy drinking is defined as having 15 or more alcoholic drinks weekly.

Binge drinking is another unhealthy pattern of drinking. Binge drinking means consuming large volumes of alcohol in a single setting. While some people might imagine binge drinking as something only teenagers or college students do in movies, it is relatively easy to drink a lot in a short period. For example, if you go out to dinner and have two large glasses of wine with your meal, then enjoy a cocktail or two afterward. This could be a binge if all the drinking occurred within a few hours.

Regularly exceeding the recommended alcohol intake or frequently binging are forms of alcohol misuse. Without intervention and treatment, alcohol misuse can quickly turn into alcohol dependence and addiction.

Recognizing Alcohol Abuse and Addiction

While some people can maintain social, moderate drinking patterns, some develop unhealthy drinking habits that can become a more significant problem requiring treatments. Recognizing the signs of alcohol abuse and addiction can help you get the treatment you need as soon as possible.


Hiding, lying about, or being secretive about your drinking are all signs that you may need help to regain control over your alcohol intake. If you frequently drink alone, disguise the amount you’re drinking, or feel like people would judge you if they knew how much you actually consume, you may be engaging in alcohol abuse and need help to stop.


If you have intense cravings for alcohol when you’re not drinking or spend a lot of time thinking about when you have your next drink, it could be a sign that your relationship with alcohol is no longer healthy. Cravings are a sign of alcohol dependence and should not be ignored.

Prioritizing drinking

One of the most significant signs of alcohol abuse and addiction is that alcohol becomes the center of your life. If a lot of your time and energy is spent getting alcohol, drinking, and recovering from hangovers, you may not have a lot of time for other things. 

If you are falling behind in your responsibilities at work, home,  or school, or you’re not spending as much time with friends and family because of your drinking, you may need help for alcohol abuse.

Withdrawal symptoms

People who drink heavily may experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms when they stop. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:

  •  Anxiety
  •  Sweating
  •  Nausea
  •  Headache
  •  Insomnia
  •  Tremors

If you have these symptoms as soon as the buzz wears off, it is a sign that your body is developing alcohol dependence and that you need treatment to regain control over your drinking.

Loss of control

If you frequently drink more than you intended to, or you try to stop but find yourself slipping back into your old drinking habits, you may require treatment and support to stop drinking.

Addiction is marked by a complete loss of control over your drinking. People with alcohol addiction do not choose to drink– they must consume alcohol to function. If you feel that you can no longer choose not to drink, seek treatment for alcohol addiction immediately.

Find Help Now

If you or someone you love lives with alcohol abuse or addiction, reach out to the caring specialists at the Mandala Healing Center now. Our holistic alcohol addiction treatment programs can help you safely stop drinking and embrace a healthy, sober lifestyle. Call today to get started.