I drink every night. Am I an alcoholic?
If you have a drink (or several) with dinner every night, chances are this question has crossed your mind before. Problem drinking exists on a spectrum, and daily drinking can affect each person differently. But how can you know if your regular alcohol use is a problem?
In this post, learn when to worry about your alcohol use, when not to, and tips that can help if you decide to dial back on your drinking.
When Drinking Every Night Is a Problem, and When It Isn’t
Drinking every night sometimes falls into a gray area of alcohol use. In other words, it can be hard to determine whether it’s normal or problematic. Is a nightly glass of wine or a couple of mixed drinks at the bar each day really that bad for you? How can you know?
Well, the CDC defines moderate drinking as one drink or less per day for women, and two drinks or less per day for men.1 This is based on the standard drink sizes:
- A 1.5 oz. shot of about 40 percent alcohol
- A 12 oz. beer with 5 percent alcohol
- A 5 oz. glass of wine with 12 percent alcohol
If you have one drink per night, but its alcohol concentration or size is significantly bigger than the standard, your alcohol intake may be higher than you think. This is something to keep in mind when working out whether your alcohol use is problematic. At any rate, several drinks per night is likely a problem.
Read more: Drinking Levels Defined
It also matters why you’re drinking every day. Say you’re drinking two beers per night, but you’re doing it to cope with depression or anxiety. If this is the case, your drinking may snowball into dependency or addiction—even if it hasn’t created any obvious problems in your life yet.
Reasons Not To Drink Every Night
If you’re drinking every night after work, you might be wondering: What are the reasons not to? After all, some sources point out that mild amounts of alcohol may actually be good for you. But the truth is that for many people, daily drinking can be harmful.
Here are some reasons to consider not drinking every night:
- While light drinking may offer some potential benefits, it can also increase your risk of other health issues.
- Experimenting with sobriety can be eye-opening. As an example, imagine how your perception could shift without that daily alcohol. Would you be more motivated, productive, and present in your relationships? You may be surprised to see how your life changes when you cut back.
- The realization that you might have an alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a major reason to consider quitting or reducing your drinking. AUD can damage your health, relationships, professional life, and many other important aspects of your well-being.
How To Stop Drinking Alcohol Every Night
Figuring out how to stop drinking alcohol every night is easier said than done. The good news is that there are some tips that can help:
Keep Alcohol Out of Your House
Just like with unhealthy foods, an excellent first step to quit drinking every night is to keep alcohol out of your house. Making it more difficult to access can help you curb temptation and stick to your goals.
Replace Your Routine
If your nights look like getting home from work, changing into comfortable clothes, and cracking open a beer, it may be time for a routine revamp.
If you want to cut back, consider how you could restructure your time to rewire your habits. For example, you could join a club, make it a routine to take your dog to the park, or ride a bike around town. When you fill your time with engaging activities (and especially when you change your environment), you can shift your mind away from those old drinking habit loops.
If all else fails, you can also drink something else instead. Try mocktails, a cup of tea, seltzer water—anything you can swap in as an alcohol-free replacement can work.
Build Accountability with Those in Your Life
Tell your trusted friends and loved ones that you plan to cut back. This creates an extra layer of accountability that can help you stay on course when you feel like grabbing a drink. (A bonus is that this step can also help you gather a team of people to reach out to if you need support!)
Use Healthy Distractions
It may come as a surprise, but yes—there is such a thing as a healthy distraction. Instead of reaching for a drink after work, you can spend time on activities such as:
- Creating through art, poetry, writing, etc.
- Watching a TV series with a partner, friends, or loved ones
- Any other hobbies that catch your interest
Read more: How To Stop Drinking Alcohol
The Bottom Line
Whether you’re dealing with heavy alcohol use or simply wondering how to stop drinking wine every night, you don’t have to tackle it alone. The tips mentioned above can help if you’re starting to feel like you have a problem. But if you need some extra support, you could also try an online treatment program like Ria Health.
Ria Health is a flexible, smartphone-based program that works to fit your circumstances and unique relationship with alcohol. Whether you want to drink moderately or quit completely, the Ria team can support you in getting there.