Can you get addicted to beer?
Yes. You can definitely become addicted to beer, or any form of alcohol.
Not everyone becomes dependent on or may get addicted to alcohol, but there are certain risk factors that make addiction more likely. So how many beers is too many? How do you know if you have an addiction to beer? What can you do to cut back or quit drinking beer? We’ll look at each of these questions here.
What’s in beer?
Beer contains ethyl alcohol, also called ethanol. In beer, alcohol is created by the fermentation of grains such as barley or wheat. The amount of alcohol in beer is much lower than in some other drinks such as wine or liquor. The CDC considers one 12-oz beer to count as a single “serving.” Each serving contains 0.6 ounces of alcohol.
Beer and the brain
The alcohol in beer impacts every major system of the body, including each vital organ. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system, and causes drowsiness, lightheadedness, dizziness, and loss of coordination. Alcohol can also cause behavior changes, causing people to become less inhibited or more aggressive. And alcohol impairs judgment and coordination.
If you drink too many beers, you may end up with nausea, vomiting, or the loss of consciousness. Alcohol poisoning can even cause death. It can be dangerous for pregnant women to drink alcoholic beverages such as beer in any quantities – this can cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and possibly serious birth defects.
How much beer is too much?
Is my drinking a problem? An addiction to beer will differ depending on the gender of the person drinking. For a man, 15 or more drinks a week puts you at high risk of developing an addiction. For women, it’s more than 12 drinks. Anyone who has five or more drinks every time they drink, at least once a week, is also at risk of becoming a beer addict.
How do you get addicted to beer?
Drinking a beer periodically is more or less harmless, but for the 17.6 million adults in the US who struggle with alcohol addiction and abuse, any amount many be too much. For these people, drinking beer triggers cravings, which lead to continued drinking or binges. Addiction to beer often develops over time, but it’s still not completely understood why some people will get addicted to the alcohol contained in beer and others won’t. There are some red flags which will warn you if you’re at high risk for alcohol abuse or addiction.
What increases beer addiction risk?
Research has shown that women with impulsive personalities and antisocial behavior are much more likely to become beer addicts. Both men and women from backgrounds with a family history of alcohol abuse are at a higher risk of developing alcohol abuse or addiction themselves. Also, high levels of anxiety correlate to alcohol addiction. Stress, low self-esteem, and mood disorders also influence beer addiction. People with strong social support networks, however, are less likely to become addicted.
Signs of beer addiction
If you continue to drink even though it’s affecting your professional life, your family, or your health, you probably have an alcohol addiction. Other signs of beer addiction include becoming violent or hostile when drinking or when confronted about drinking. Beer addicts are unable to control how much they drink and cannot voluntarily reduce their intake. They may miss important activities, neglect their hygiene and appearance, and make excuses to indulge.
How to avoid beer addiction
If you’re at high risk for alcohol addiction, you should limit your intake of alcohol, or consider quitting entirely. If your tolerance is increasing so that you need more and more alcohol to get the “buzz” you’re looking for, you should consider cutting back. Drinking only on special occasions or in moderate quantities is the best way to avoid becoming addicted to beer or other alcoholic beverages.
Are you addicted to beer?
If you are struggling with a beer addiction, there is help. We invite you to contact us by writing a comment or sending us an email. We will try our best to answer your questions about beer and alcohol addiction, or to refer you to someone who can. Some options for getting self-help for beer and drinking problems also follow.
How can you stop drinking alcohol? You can join a 12-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous, or pursue alternate avenues to beat your addiction. A therapist may be able to work with you to uncover the triggers that drive you to drink. If you can avoid the people, places, and types of events that drive you to drink, you may be able to significantly cut your intake. Friends and family can offer their support by making events alcohol-free.
Reference sources: Medline Plus: Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
Risk Factors for Alcohol Dependence: A Case-Control Study
CDC: Alcohol and Public Health
After a session of heavy drinking, alcohol can stay in your body anywhere from 24 hours to a week.
Photo credit: Caveman Chuck Coker