Drinking Alcohol Every Day – When Does It Become An Addiction?
While the majority of adults in the UK drink alcohol on a regular basis, a certain percentage of these individuals are struggling with an addiction.
In fact, the NHS estimates that 3% of women and 9% of men show signs of being dependent on alcohol.
In our modern society, alcohol consumption is often actively encouraged and as a result, it is common for many people to drink alcohol every day, whether this is a lunchtime outing with colleagues or a glass of wine after returning home.
But when does a simple routine become an addiction?
Do I have a problem with alcohol?
If you can relate to a number of the following statements, you may be struggling with an alcohol addiction or dependency particularly if you are driving alcohol every day on a regular basis.
- I spend a large amount of time thinking about, obtaining and drinking alcohol
- If I am unable to drink alcohol one day, I feel extremely anxious and agitated
- I have started to neglect my responsibilities at school, work or home
- I need to drink more alcohol in order to experience the same effects
- I would like to reduce or completely stop my alcohol intake but have been unable to do so
- Drinking alcohol has become one of the only good things about my day
- I can’t imagine my life without alcohol
- I struggle to function if I am unable to drink alcohol
- I find it difficult to stop after one or two drinks
- Friends, family members or colleagues have started to make comments about my alcohol use
- I have experienced negative consequences due to my alcohol use but continue to drink
- I drink alcohol at inappropriate times such as first thing in the morning or when I am in charge of children
It’s healthy to regularly challenge your behaviours and mindset around alcohol and to be honest with yourself about your relationship with this substance. If you have concerns about your alcohol consumption, give our friendly team at Rehab Recovery a call.
We’ll be happy to talk you through your options and guide you towards professional support that works for you and your lifestyle.
How much alcohol is safe to drink?
The official NHS guidelines state that there is no safe amount of alcohol that can be consumed and that even small amounts can result in addiction or other harm.
It is recommended that both men and women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol each week, the equivalent of 6 pints of medium-strength beer or 10 glasses of low-strength wine. 
It’s common for some people to drink their entire week’s work of alcohol in one sitting – this is known as binge drinking and is not recommended, as it can be extremely dangerous to both your physical and psychological health.
Drinking less than 14 units of alcohol a week is classified as low-risk drinking, however, it is still important to follow safe drinking practices such as consuming water between alcoholic beverages, lining your stomach with food beforehand and spending your drinking over a few days.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women are advised to abstain from alcohol as well as people who have been prescribed certain medications – speak to your doctor if you are unsure about the safety of combining alcohol with your current medication.
If I drink alcohol every day, do I have an addiction?
As alcohol is an extremely addictive substance, it is possible that drinking every day can result in dependency or addiction if not carefully monitored and managed.
However, many people drink alcohol on a regular basis without developing an addiction. It’s common to pour a glass of wine after a long day or relax with a beer while watching television, and with the official NHS guidelines recommending a maximum of 14 units of alcohol per week there is room to regularly enjoy a drink without becoming addicted.
Although it is possible to drink alcohol every day without developing an addiction, It is advised to have two or three alcohol-free days each week.
While drinking alcohol every day does not necessarily indicate that you have a problem, it’s important to look out for any warning signs that may send your seemingly innocent daily routine down the slippery slope of addiction.
These can include:
- Drinking a large amount of alcohol every day, or enough that you are frequently exceeding the recommended weekly units
- Having a family history of alcohol or drug addiction
- Drinking extremely fast, often gulping down your first drink of the day
- Feeling anxious, irritable and agitated if you are not able to drink alcohol one day
- Spending a lot of time thinking about and craving alcohol until you are able to drink it
- Drinking alcohol primarily as a way to cope with stress or escape from the pressures of everyday life
Remember that addiction does not discriminate, and it’s possible for anyone to develop an addiction to alcohol particularly if they are drinking every day.
If you are feeling concerned about your alcohol consumption, continue reading to learn more about the symptoms of alcohol addiction and what to do if you think you have a problem.
What are the symptoms of alcohol addiction?
There are a number of ways to spot a potential alcohol addiction besides the symptoms of intoxication. Alcohol use disorder can cause a wide variety of physical, psychological and behavioural side effects that may initially be hidden by the affected individual but over time will usually become clear to their family and friends.
Physical symptoms of an alcohol addiction include:
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when unable to drink alcohol
- Dishevelled appearance, poor grooming, lack of hygiene
- Excessive perspiration
- Frequent bruises consistent with bumps and falls
- Experiencing headaches on a regular basis
- Gaining or losing weight at a rapid pace
- Frequent mood swings
- Regular blackouts and memory loss
- Depression and anxiety
- Feelings of paranoia
- Agitation and irritability
- Intense, often uncontrollable cravings for alcohol
- Low self-esteem and self-worth
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling unable to function without alcohol
Behavioural symptoms of alcohol addiction include:
- Becoming withdrawn and isolated from friends and family
- Only socialising with other people who also drink alcohol
- Lying and being secretive about alcohol consumption
- Prioritising alcohol over other responsibilities such as work, family and school
- Choosing to drink alone for the majority of the time
- Regularly consuming over the recommended limit
- Drinking alcohol as a way to cope with stress or escape reality
- Engaging in risky behaviours such as driving under the influence or having unprotected sex
If you can relate to a number of the above statements, an important first step towards recovery is to acknowledge that you have a problem with alcohol and accept that you must seek treatment.
It is likely that you will be required to abstain from alcohol either temporarily or permanently which can be an extremely difficult process, but one that will improve your life in every aspect.
What are the long-term effects of drinking alcohol every day?
Drinking alcohol every day can lead to a number of long term physical and mental health problems, even if the individual is not struggling with an addiction.
These include an increased risk of depression, high blood pressure, malnutrition and a higher chance of developing a dependency on this substance, all of which can have a detrimental effect on your physical, mental and emotional health.
1. Increased risk of addiction
Alcohol is an extremely addictive substance, and by consuming it every day you are increasing the chances of developing an addiction or dependency. It has a noticeable effect on the body and brain, often requiring them to change the way they function.
If this happens every day on a regular basis, your brain and body may eventually feel as though they require alcohol in order to function correctly.
2. Physical health problems
Heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and erectile dysfunction are just some of the physical health problems that can occur when alcohol is consumed every day. In women, driving alcohol regularly can interfere with the menstrual cycle and potentially affect fertility.
It can also lead to a noticeable weight gain over time along with all the problems that occur with excessive weight.
3. Mental health problems
Drinking alcohol every day puts you at a greater risk of developing a range of mental health disorders including anxiety and depression, due to the effect that this substance has on the brain.
Regular consumption of alcohol can cause an imbalance in the chemicals within the brain, and experiencing frequent hangovers can also increase the chances of experiencing anxiety or depression.
Drinking alcohol on a regular basis, particularly to excess, can result in malnutrition due to a number of factors.  Alcohol has little nutritional value, and if consumed in place of food the individual may not ingest adequate vitamins which over time can take a toll on the body.
Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to vomiting which may result in malnutrition if this occurs on a regular basis.