Addiction Alcohol Use Your Relationship With Alcohol Guide Your Relationship With Alcohol Guide Overview Where to Start Take a Quiz What Is Alcohol Use Disorder? Understanding Risks Types of Alcohol Problems How Much Is Too Much? Risks of Binge Drinking What Is a Problem Drinker? Myths About Alcohol Modification Tips What Is Sober Curious? How to Be Social While Quitting Drinking How to Say No to Alcohol Sobriety Support Benefits of Recovery Tips to Stay Sober 8 Facts About Drinking Alcohol By Buddy T Buddy T Facebook Twitter Buddy T is an anonymous writer and founding member of the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism. Learn about our editorial process Updated on August 10, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE Medically reviewed by John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE is board-certified in addiction medicine and preventative medicine. He is the medical director at Alcohol Recovery Medicine. For over 20 years Dr. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Learn about our Medical Review Board Print PeopleImages / Getty Images Thanks to ongoing research on the effects of alcohol, we now know that there are many risks associated with drinking, including learning and memory problems, impaired driving, unintentional injuries, violence, unsafe sexual behavior, suicide attempts, overdoses, and addiction. But there are many misguided beliefs about alcohol and alcohol use, some of which can interfere with you or someone you love recognizing the warnings signs of alcohol misuse and seeking help. By learning the facts about alcohol use, you can be better prepared to drink responsibly. Exploring Your Relationship With Alcohol Everyone Reacts Differently As with most things in life, different people react differently. Many factors affect a person's reaction to alcohol, including: Body chemistryBodyweightMetabolismSexTolerance level Also, there may be various genetic factors that come into play as to how individuals react to drinking alcohol and whether they are vulnerable to addiction. Women and the Effects of Alcohol Age Doesn't Matter Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) don't discriminate. Over the past two decades, there has been a steady rise in AUDs among those ages 65 and older. What's more, people with AUD who are middle-aged and older are at a significantly higher risk for suicide compared to their younger counterparts. The Link Between Age, Drinking, and Suicide Binge Drinking Is Never Safe Problem drinking isn't about what type of alcohol you drink, nor is it about on which days you drink. If you or someone you love is binge drinking every Friday and Saturday night, it could signal a problem with alcohol. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 g/dL. This typically occurs after four drinks for women and five drinks for men—in about two hours. Binge drinking doesn't necessarily mean you have AUD. However, it can increase your risk of developing AUD later on. It is also associated with several short- and long-term physical and mental health effects. People who binge drink, even occasionally, have a greater risk of: CancerChronic diseases (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and liver disease)Memory and learning problemsSexually transmitted diseasesUnintentional injuries (such as car crashes, falls, and burns) Binge drinking can also result in violent behavior, either towards yourself or others. What Is Binge Drinking? High Alcohol Tolerance Can Be Damaging Alcohol tolerance is when drinking the same amount no longer produces the same level of buzz. Because your brain has adapted to the effects of alcohol, you need to drink more alcohol to achieve the same effects. Higher tolerance can lead to higher levels of drinking, which can have negative health effects. Since alcohol affects multiple major organ systems, drinking in excess increases the possibility of health problems in all parts of the body. High tolerance also increases your risk for dependence and addiction. The Negative Effects of Alcohol Tolerance Alcohol Is Not Safe for Pain Management Alcohol can deliver a certain amount of relief by slowing down the brain and nervous system. That's why as many as 28% of people with chronic pain turn to alcohol to alleviate their pain. But the amount of alcohol you'll need to drink to relieve chronic pain is likely more than the recommended guidelines for safe alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol may also make the pain worse. So if you have chronic pain, it's best to put down that drink. If you or someone you love is drinking daily for pain relief, you'll also likely build up a tolerance, needing more to achieve the same pain-relieving effects. In addition, mixing alcohol and painkillers is downright dangerous, with possibly fatal consequences. The Danger of Using Alcohol for Pain Relief Beer Is Just as Intoxicating as Other Alcoholic Beverages In the United States, one alcoholic or "standard" drink contains the same amount of alcohol—roughly 14 grams. So one 12-ounce can of beer, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or one 1.5-ounce shot of liquor are all equally intoxicating. As long as you're drinking them at the same speed, a bottle of beer will give you the same buzz as a shot of liquor. Mixing Drink Types Won't Make Your Hangover Better or Worse You've probably heard the old saying, "Beer before liquor never sicker; liquor before beer, you're in the clear." Or the phrase, "Beer before whiskey, always risky. Whiskey before beer, never fear." These well-worn phrases refer to the belief that you can avoid a hangover if you drink different alcoholic beverages in the "right" order. But according to experts, it isn't the order in which you consume your drinks that matters. It's the amount of alcohol you drink. Your body can only process so much alcohol at a time. If you drink too much, you'll end up with a hangover. Why Alcohol Causes a Hangover Only Time Will Help You Sober Up Contrary to popular belief, only time will sober you up. Your liver can only metabolize around one standard drink per hour. So while cold showers, hot coffee, and fresh air might feel a little refreshing to someone who has been drinking all night, none will make you sober. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area. For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database. 10 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Cederbaum AI. Alcohol metabolism. Clin Liver Dis. 2012;16(4):667-85. doi:10.1016/j.cld.2012.08.002 Han BH, Moore AA, Ferris R, Palamar JJ. Binge drinking among older adults in the United States, 2015 to 2017. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2019;67(10):2139-2144. doi:10.1111/jgs.16071 Blow FC, Brockmann LM, Barry KL. Role of alcohol in late-life suicide. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2004;28(5 Suppl):48S-56S. doi:10.1097/01.alc.0000127414.15000.83? National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Drinking levels defined. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Binge drinking. Riley JL 3rd, King C. Self-report of alcohol use for pain in a multi-ethnic community sample. J Pain. 2009;10(9):944-952. doi:10.1016/j.jpain.2009.03.005 Zale EL, Maisto SA, Ditre JW. Interrelations between pain and alcohol: An integrative review. Clin Psychol Rev. 2015;37:57-71. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2015.02.005 Holton AE, Gallagher P, Fahey T, Cousins G. Concurrent use of alcohol interactive medications and alcohol in older adults: a systematic review of prevalence and associated adverse outcomes. BMC Geriatr. 2017;17(1):148. doi:10.1186/s12877-017-0532-2 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. What is a standard drink?. Köchling J, Geis B, Wirth S, Hensel KO. Grape or grain but never the twain? A randomized controlled multiarm matched-triplet crossover trial of beer and wine. Am J Clin Nutr. 2019;109(2):345-352. doi:10.1093/ajcn/nqy309 By Buddy T Buddy T is an anonymous writer and founding member of the Online Al-Anon Outreach Committee with decades of experience writing about alcoholism. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? 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