Home to over 11,000 wineries, the US is the world’s biggest wine market. In terms of consumption, the country has reached a record high of 3.18 gallons per person in 2021. And while wine is considered a fancy, sophisticated — even socially acceptable — drink, the question remains: Can regular wine drinking make you an alcoholic?
In this blog, we’ll answer just that and explore the risks of wine consumption. We’ll also discuss the thin line between moderation and excess and the importance of spotting early warning signs.
Global Wine Consumption
According to Statista, the global wine consumption was around 232 million hectoliters in 2022. The US leads the world in wine consumption, consuming 34 million hectoliters of wine.
Its use is often tied to several cultural nuances. For instance, in the US, people enjoy wine in different settings, including formal events and casual gatherings. It’s often associated with a sense of refinement.
Globally, these perceptions and practices vary. For example, wine is deeply ingrained in the culture and daily life in countries like France, Germany, and Italy. In contrast, in some cultures, alcohol consumption, including wine, is less prevalent due to religious or social norms.
Beyond the cultural aspect, many also perceive wine as a healthier option compared to other alcoholic beverages. This is buoyed by studies that put wine in a positive light. For instance, research shows that red wine could be good for heart health when drunk in small amounts.
What is Alcoholism and Its Symptoms?
According to American Addiction Centers, alcoholism happens when “one can no longer control their use of alcohol, compulsively abuse alcohol, despite its negative ramifications, and/or experience emotional distress when they are not drinking.”
If you’re wondering when alcohol becomes a problem, these are the common symptoms:
- Drinking more alcohol or for longer than planned
- Often trying but failing to cut down or control alcohol use
- Spending more time getting, drinking, or recovering from alcohol
- Strongly craving alcohol
- Neglecting responsibilities at work, school, or home due to drinking
- Continuing to drink despite it causing social or relationship problems
- Giving up important activities because of alcohol
- Drinking in unsafe situations
- Keeping drinking despite knowing it’s harming your health
- Needing more alcohol to feel its effects or feeling less effect with usual amounts
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms like insomnia or nausea when not drinking, sometimes using alcohol or similar substances to avoid these symptoms
Healthcare experts typically make an alcohol use disorder (AUD) diagnosis if you exhibit two or more of these signs within a year.
Keep in mind that AUD is a disease that can impact anyone, regardless of the type of alcohol they consume. It’s not limited to any specific kind of alcohol like beer, wine, or spirits.
The Risks Associated with Regular Wine Consumption
While it’s true that wine can have health benefits when consumed in moderation, like containing antioxidants, it’s important to remember that it is still alcohol.
Experts note that drinking wine in moderation, about two 5-ounce glasses daily, is generally safe for the majority of adults. However, drinking more than this can cause risks and negative health effects. Excessive wine consumption can result in immediate issues like blackouts, drowsiness, difficulty walking, and vomiting. These acute problems can be serious and pose immediate risks to your safety and well-being.
In the long term, regularly drinking large amounts of wine can lead to more severe health problems. These include developing an alcohol dependence, which, in the long run, can have a greater negative impact on your life and health. Liver problems are also a significant risk. Additionally, you will have a higher likelihood of developing certain types of cancer.
Recognizing the Warning Signs of Wine Alcoholism
There’s a fine line between social drinking and alcoholism. And if you continuously use social gatherings as an excuse for wine alcoholism, it can pose several consequences, as stated.
To help you determine if you’re already on the verge of getting addicted to wine, here are some signs to watch out for.
Changes in physical health
You may experience unexplained health issues, from persistent fatigue to digestive problems.
Mood swings and irritability
When you regularly consume excessive amounts of wine, you will start craving it more strongly. And if you’re not drinking wine, you’ll notice notable changes in your mood.
When you start being alcoholic because of too much wine, your trusted family members and friends will attempt to cut down your consumption. This may lead you to drink wine more secretively.
Changes in social circle
If none of your current circle tolerates your drinking, it will push you to find a social group that centers around wine drinking.
Since you have an increased desire for wine, you will need to spend more just to drink it. It can lead to financial strain or debt.
Keep in mind that it’s essential to recognize these alcohol abuse signs because acknowledging them is the first step in seeking help. Alcoholism is a treatable condition, and early intervention can make a significant difference.
Seeking Help and Support
If you suspect an unhealthy relationship with wine, seeking help, as we mentioned, is a courageous step. Alcohol addiction treatment is available and effective, with various options tailored to individual needs.
First, consider talking to a healthcare professional. They can assess your situation and recommend appropriate treatment plans. This may include therapy, medication, or a combination of both.
Support groups are also invaluable. Organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous offer a community of individuals who understand your struggles. These groups provide a space for sharing experiences and strategies for overcoming addiction.
Going back to the question — can regular wine drinking make you an alcoholic? The simple answer is yes. And it’s a risk often masked by the social acceptance of wine.
The key is to moderate your consumption and acknowledge AUD signs when you feel you’re already experiencing them. As with many other forms of addiction, recognizing your addiction and the need to seek help is a necessary step toward recovery.
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction, Oregon Trail Recovery is here to help. Our team is ready to provide support and treatment to guide you on the path to recovery. Reach out to Oregon Trail Recovery and start healing today