Harmful drinking (problem drinking)
If harm or problems occur as a result of drinking alcohol, it usually happens slowly, gradually and sometimes without being noticed.
For instance, on an occasion when there is a lot of alcohol available, one person may drink too much and get drunk and sick. Another may end up having a fight, or an accident, or do things they later regret, taking foolish risks, or driving under the influence. Some people learn from this to manage their drinking better.
Others are not so fortunate or wise. The memory of the early drinking, and the euphoria, is strong in their brain. They want to experience that again, so they continue to drink. If they keep drinking in a way that causes problems, we call this Problem Drinking or Harmful Drinking. Problem drinking is drinking that causes harm – to the drinker or to other people.
On the map, is it possible to reverse up the road and to get back to where one was before? It is possible, but not easy.
50% of drink problems occur to people who are not addicted. Many falls, rows, missed work headaches and other alcohol-related problems are caused by excessive drinking, not addiction. If we want to prevent alcohol-related harm we must pay attention to these problems, and try to prevent them. We cannot focus only on addiction.
Recommended weekly guidelines
Low risk weekly guidelines for adults are:
- Less than 11 standard drinks (approx. 110g of alcohol) in a week for women, and
- Less than 17 standard drinks (approx. 170g of alcohol) in a week for men