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Are You Over The Limit?

Some days are more challenging than others, and sometimes you just need something to take the edge off after a long day. Of course, what you do to relax is your prerogative. But it is essential to understand the consequences of maladaptive ways of coping. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders 5th edition, worldwide, alcohol is the most frequently used intoxicant. As a result, alcohol contributes to substantial morbidity (rate of disease in a population) and mortality (death rate).

Alcohol is consumed for several reasons:

  • To socialize

  • Cope with stress

  • To deal with the prolonged lockdowns and social isolations associated with covid-19.

  • A rite of passage into adulthood

  • Religious practices

  • Rituals

  • Accessibility

Of import, not everyone who consumes alcohol will develop a problematic pattern of alcohol use leading to clinically significant problems. However, for those who develop a problematic pattern of alcohol use, leading to clinically significant problems or distress, there are both invisible and visible impacts on health and behavior. In addition, recurrent alcohol use affects the person's quality of life, interpersonally, occupationally, and socially.

Yes, alcohol is a legal substance, but its use is highly regulated. Below are some regulations on alcohol:

  • Depending on your geographic location, age 21 is the starting point for many people, legally, that is.

  • You can be penalized for driving under the influence of alcohol (suspended driver license up to lifetime revocation of your driver license.

  • Providing alcohol to a minor

  • Charged/fined for driving with an open alcohol container in your vehicle

  • Public intoxication

  • City ordinances banning the sale of alcohol on Sundays

  • Minors are prohibited from buying alcohol

  • Identification is required to purchase alcohol

  • Business are cited and fined for not checking identification

  • There are regulations on what is a "standard" drink

  • Manufacturers are required to display on the container the alcohol content of their products

Below are some of the diagnostic criteria a substance abuse professional may use to diagnose a person with a problematic pattern of alcohol use leading to clinically significant problems:

  • The person drinks an increased amount of alcohol over time or drinks more than intended

  • Unsuccessful attempts of reducing or cutting back on alcohol consumption

  • Investment of an inordinate about of time getting or participating in activities leading to alcohol consumption or recovery from the previous day's consumption of alcohol

  • experiences a strong desire to obtain and consume alcohol (Cravings)

  • repeated use of alcohol even after failing to meet life obligations personally, professionally, academically

  • Continued use of alcohol despite the consequences socially and interpersonally caused on ongoing alcohol use

  • The recurrent use of alcohol led to the abandonment of activities (occupational, social, recreational) the person previously enjoyed or participated in

  • Occurring often, the use of alcohol in hazardous situations (driving under the influence, drinking while operating a motorized vehicle, not adhering to road safety regulations)

  • The person continues to consume alcohol even after experiencing physical (hand tremors, balance gait) and/or psychological issues (alcohol-induced psychosis, depression, anxiety) exacerbated by the alcohol consumption.

  • The person develops a tolerance for alcohol one of two ways (1) a significant increase in alcohol consumed to get the desired effect. (2) diminished effect consuming the same amount of alcohol, the person no longer gets drunk from consuming 10 beers. To get intoxicated, the person has to consume more than the usual amount.

  • The person experiences withdrawal symptoms

A person's alcohol use may have spiraled out of control if the person is drinking mouthwash, rubbing alcohol, or hand sanitizer to get intoxicated.

N. B. The contents of this blog post are not prescriptive. The intent is to share information. To determine if you or someone you know may have an alcohol use disorder, please contact a mental health professional for an evaluation.

Stay Naturally Curious


Chakema C. Carmack, & Rhonda K. Lewis. (2016). Assessing Whether Religious Behaviors and Positive and Negative Affect are Associated with Alcohol Use and Abuse Among a Sample of College Students Living in the Midwest. Journal of Religion and Health, 55(3), 1107–1119.

Sharma, M., Batra, K., & Nahar, V. K. (2020). Alcohol Consumption in COVID-19 Pandemic: Implications for Alcohol Education. Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education, 64(2), 8–19.

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