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6 Signs You Drink Too Much

Men's Health logo Men's Health 4/30/2018 by Holly C. Corbett

Even if you’re not crushing 40s on weeknights, you might have a drinking problem. Here’s how to tell

You rarely turn down wine with dinner, not to mention that second (or third) beer at happy hour - but that doesn’t make you a binge drinker, does it?

It depends, but according to a 2015 report by the National Institutes of Health, an exploding number of Americans are in the drinking danger zone.

According to the report, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, nearly one-third of American adults at some point in their life have an Alcohol Abuse Disorder, and only 20 percent seek treatment.

'What’s really alarming is that the intensity of drinking is dramatically increasing,” says George Koob, Ph.D., director of the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism, an NIH agency that supported the study. 'We’re seeing a 5 percent increase - that’s roughly a million more people than 10 years ago - who are knocking back more than 5, 8, or 10 drinks in one sitting.”

Problem drinkers are not always who you’d think. More than 38 million adults binge drink an average of four times a month, according to CDC data, and while 18 to 34 year olds are more likely to go overboard than any other age group, it’s actually the over-65 set that does it most often.

Tying one on now and then may seem harmless, but overindulging in alcohol is responsible for more than 80,000 deaths in this country per year, and is the third leading cause of preventable deaths.

So how much alcohol means you’re overdoing it? For men, binge drinking means having five or more drinks in a short period of time.

Most people who binge drink don’t fit the definition of an alcoholic, but there aren’t just two camps of drinkers, say experts: Many of us are somewhere in between. 

Gallery: What happens to your body when you give up alcohol (courtesy Eat This! Not That!)

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