Hey ladies, do we drink too much?
Lately, there have been a slew of studies and articles in the media about women in their 30s and 40s drinking excessively. This has got me seriously questioning my own libation habits: Do I drink too much?
When 6 pm rolls around, I love to pour myself a glass of wine. The odd time, I’ll have a martini or a margarita. I may have another glass with dinner or while watching TV. It’s a ritual that signals the end of the day, the time to relax. It’s cliché, but it does take the “edge” off. And frankly, I love the taste.
On average, I have 1 to 2 drinks a night. One or two nights a week I have nothing. And on the weekends, I may have three, the odd time, four. I don’t like to feel drunk, and I really hate feeling hung over. *
Consult any doctor or any healthy drinking guideline and they will tell you that “low-risk drinking” for men is no more than 4 drinks at a time, up to 14 drinks in a week. For women, it’s a max of 3 drinks in a day, or 7 drinks a week.
I took an informal poll recently. By the above standard, 70% of the women I asked are “at-risk” drinkers. Before you say birds of a feather, I polled colleagues and acquaintances too. Maybe it’s just us city folk?
According to the World Health Organization, adults in the EU drink an average of three drinks a day. Perhaps I need to relocate.
In the book “Her best kept secret: Why women drink and how they can regain control”, author Gabrielle Glaser writes that American women are drinking more than ever and in larger quantities. She goes on to question whether AA is the best fit for female alcoholics.
I’m not an alcoholic. Booze does not adversely affect my relationships, my work, or my life in any way. But while researching this blog, I did go online and fill out an “are you an alcoholic” questionnaire. Two questions irked me:
1) Do you drink alone? Since forever, drinking socially has been okay while drinking alone is an “issue.” Well, I live alone, as do an increasing number of North Americans. So wine with dinner is only okay if someone is sitting beside you? Please. Plus, from what I’ve seen, drinking “socially” often spells getting plastered at parties.
2) Do you feel guilty about your drinking? Hell yes! I feel guilty about forgetting to return a library book on time, let alone about having a drink. That’s why I’m unburdening myself here.
So while I’m not worried about being an alcoholic, I am concerned about the long-term health repercussions of my regular alcohol consumption.
Studies have long linked moderate drinking with cardiovascular health. And I have always maintained that a glass of wine is better than a Valium. But tip that moderate scale and you’re looking at a higher risk of certain cancers, high blood pressure and liver disease. (I’ve actually had my liver tested. All clear.) Not to mention all those additional empty calories.
They say acknowledging you have a problem is the first step. Am I dependent on alcohol? Less so than coffee, I’m happy to report. But this buzz about booze has made an impression. I am more mindful about how much I drink and about cutting back.**
* Yes, I take cabs.
** If you think I drink too much, thanks, I know that already. If you drink about as much as I do, I’d love to hear from you. I find comfort in numbers.