We’ve all seen the headlines: “Drinking wine improves your health!” But don’t reach for that bottle of merlot, yet. While moderate drinking may slightly reduce the risk for heart disease, alcohol has the potential to cause a lot more problems than it prevents. That doesn’t necessarily mean alcohol has no place in your life, but it does mean you should be careful.
Does “Healthy Drinking” Exist?
Moderate drinking is defined as up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men, according to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. If you want to keep your habits as healthy as possible, don’t exceed these limits.
Wondering if you or someone you know might have a problem with alcohol? Here are a few signs:
- You’ve been drinking more or longer than intended.
- Drinking has interfered with taking care of your home or family.
- You’ve tried to cut back or stop but weren’t successful.
If you’d like to drink less, try these strategies:
- Measure your drinks. It’s easy to say you’ve only had one glass of wine, but if it’s bigger than 5 ounces or stronger than 12 percent alcohol, it’s really more than one glass.
- Savor your sips. Drinking slowly not only cuts down on how much you drink, it’s also more enjoyable.
- Try new activities. If your social life revolves around situations with alcohol, it can be tougher to say no. Try doing something else with your friends, like a yoga class topped off with a smoothie.
Help Is Available
If you need help, treatment is important—and fortunately, there are many options, including support groups, behavioral therapy, and medications. Follow up with your doctor and try a new strategy if one doesn’t work for you. Keep in mind that those who are truly dependent on alcohol should only quit with the supervision of a medical professional—it can be dangerous to your health to withdraw suddenly. For help finding support for you or a family member, visit www.aa.org or call 800-662-HELP (4357).