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What is Drinking in Moderation?

Have you ever sat back and taken a hard look at your relationship with alcohol? Better yet, have you done a deep dive into understanding your own motivations for drinking or even attempted to discover your limits regarding how many drinks are too many in your opinion? 

It is well known that people use alcohol to cope, to fit in, to socialize; however, factors such as genetics, personality, or environment can also play a significant role when determining the type of drinker one is. For example; social drinking is associated with moderate alcohol use. However, there are people in this category who will drink out of peer pressure or fit in because drinking to them is mainly a social pastime.

There are some active drinkers whose sole purpose is to drink in order to feel drunk, while others may not necessarily drink heavily, but will do so as a way of ‘fitting in.’ People who use drinking as a coping mechanism are more likely to be men and women who tend to consume large amounts in response to emotional triggers and progress to more dangerous levels of drinking behaviors.

Drinking in Moderation

A decision to drink less and stay within moderate limits is meant to avoid any health, personal, family, social, job-related, financial or legal problems. Similar to Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step groups, there is Moderation Management (MM) who seeks to understand and delineate the lifestyle of a moderate drinker as someone who considers an occasional drink to be a small, although enjoyable part of life, and has interests, hobbies and other ways to enjoy life that do not involve alcohol. They describe someone who has a healthy relationship with alcohol engaging in their own limit-setting in terms of time and rate, as well as involved with others who have similar views, always comfortable and never secretive about their use. 

In terms of amount, what is considered moderate drinking is consuming up to one drink per day for healthy women and two drinks per day for men. Moderate drinking may also be defined as maintaining a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of below 0.55 and in most cases, limiting the speed at which you drink to ensure that your BAC remains at a safe level. One’s BAC can also be influenced by other factors other than the type of drink and the speed of consumption, for example:

  • Gender-wise, men’s tolerance is higher, therefore they can consume larger amounts of alcohol than women because of their physicality as well as the higher concentration of water in their bodies
  • Certain medical conditions and their over-the-counter treatments

In addition, those with a family history of alcoholism are at greater risk for developing alcohol dependence and should consider their family history before consuming even moderate amounts of alcohol. Especially for those who have a history of addiction themselves, there truly is no amount of “drinking in moderation” that is considered “safe”, especially when in active addiction, alcohol use was paired with other dangerous drugs.  True, there are lots of reasons why people should avoid drinking under all circumstances or consume alcohol moderately. Regardless of your reasons, it is important to keep a watch on your patterns when it comes to drinking behavior and the possibilities that present a risk for developing an addiction.