Alcohol is a legal, controlled substance that lowers anxiety and inhibitions. It also has a broad range of side effects, from loss of coordination to slurred speech. Not everyone who drinks is an alcoholic, but anyone whose life is negatively affected by alcohol on a consistent basis is considered to have an alcohol use disorder. Alcohol is commonly consumed as a drink in various forms, including beer, wine and hard liquor.
Beer is an alcoholic drink typically made from water, barley, hops and yeast. Compared to wine or hard liquor, beer usually has the lowest alcohol content by volume (ABV). Beer’s ABV ranges from about 2 to 12 percent, with the most commonly consumed beers (Budweiser, Coors Light, Miller Lite, Corona, Busch, etc.) falling in the 4 to 6 percent range. For most people, it takes 3 to 5 beers to be over the legal driving limit.
Beer has become synonymous with many activities in American culture. Drinking games on college campuses revolve around it, happy hours are the go-to activity for professionals, and you’d be hard pressed to find a sporting event without it.
The rise of craft beer has even made beer consumption fashionable, with microbreweries and home brewers pushing the limits on what new flavors and tastes can be introduced. One unfortunate side effect of the craft beer revolution is that beers may have significantly higher amounts of alcohol than the average domestic draft — some can be as high as 11 or 12 percent.
Even people who drink during social activities or only drink craft beer are susceptible to an alcohol use disorder. This is especially true when “social drinkers” continue to drink when everyone else has stopped or feel the need to drink during uncomfortable or boring situations.
Liquor is the umbrella term for hard alcoholic drinks or spirits like tequila, vodka, gin, rum and whiskey. Liquor has a much higher ABV than beer or wine and is often mixed with sodas, juices or water. The average size of a liquor pour is 1.5 oz. When not mixed into drinks, liquor is consumed as a shot or “neat.” Carbonation speeds up the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream, so drinking liquor mixed with soda can cause quicker intoxication. The lower liquid content of shots make them easier to consume, leading to a higher risk of abuse and subsequent drunkenness.
Many longtime drinkers associate different drinks with different feelings of intoxication. Science has yet to prove this, with studies showing that alcohol produces the same effects in everyone, regardless of the type of drink being consumed. However, the social setting in which an alcoholic beverage is consumed may impact the drinker’s perception of their own intoxication. Someone having a glass of wine at dinner is more likely to report feeling tired and happy, while tequila shots at a high-energy party can produce a vastly different kind of intoxication.
Those with a severe alcohol use disorder may feel that they can’t start their day without a swig of vodka, or finish it without a glass of whiskey on the rocks. Regardless of the type of liquor consumed, alcohol of any kind possesses serious addiction potential. Get help for a liquor addiction now.
Wine is made from fermented grapes or other fruits, such as pomegranates or berries. It is most commonly sold as white or red with a variety of flavor profiles. Chardonnay, pinot grigio, riesling and moscato are examples of white wines while merlot, cabernet, pinot noir and zinfandel are reds. Varieties are based on grape type.
Compared to beer, wine has a more concentrated amount of alcohol. An average pour of wine (5 oz.) is equivalent in alcohol content to 12 oz. of beer. Wine is often consumed at dinner parties or alongside gourmet cheese and cracker pairings. Its status as a “classy” drink can make it harder to spot when someone has a problem.
Women make up 59 percent of wine drinkers in the United States and are often the targeted audience in advertising campaigns promoting the drink Women have less body mass and less water content than men in their bodies. When consuming wine, body water diffuses the alcohol content. This means that women have a higher concentration of alcohol in their blood stream when they drink than men. This causes women to become impaired more quickly when drinking wine and also exposes their brains and other organs to more alcohol before it’s broken down.
Because of this, women may be disproportionately susceptible to a use disorder. However, either gender can develop a problem with wine. If you or someone you care about has been drinking wine more frequently than intended or using it to combat anxious or depressive feelings, there may be a deeper issue at play. Get help for a wine addiction.
A subset of problem drinkers, binge drinkers are men who consume five or more alcoholic drinks or women who consume four or more over a two-hour period. An infrequent binge drinker may be able to stop on his or her own. Someone addicted to alcohol, however, may want to stop drinking and not be able to without help. In many cases, prolonged binge drinking can develop into alcoholism.