Considering how socially acceptable drinking is, not to mention legal once someone turns 21, it’s not surprising when alcohol addiction isn’t always taken quite as seriously as other types of substance abuse.
Often portrayed as a harmless way to decompress after a long week at work in popular television shows and movies or a social lubricant to make sure “everyone has fun” in commercials, alcohol abuse causes 88,000 deaths (62,000 men and 26,000 women) every year according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Despite harrowing statistics like the aforementioned, alcohol addiction is often difficult to detect and confront for a variety of reasons. For one, if someone remains high functioning in work and relationships while abusing alcohol, it can be difficult for someone to acknowledge there’s a problem. Secondly, some struggling with alcohol addiction may not even realize how much is really too much. According to The Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention, “a drink” is .6 fluid ounces of pure alcohol — the equivalent of one 12-ounce can of regular beer, five ounces of table wine, 1.5 ounces — or a single shot — of brandy, cognac, gin, rum, tequila, or whiskey.
Binge drinking refers to consuming large quantities of alcohol in an single sitting while heavy drinking relates to a large number of drinks over the course of a week.