How Much Drinking Is Too Much?

Updated on November 12, 2010
W.A. asks from Spring, TX
18 answers

I love my husband very much but his drinking habits seem to upset me. As long as I've know him he has been drinking a six pack of beer or more every night, I guess this has been going on for twenty years. I think this is way too many, and I concerned about his health as he gets older. He, of course, thinks I am overreacting. He does have high blood pressure and has gone to the emergency room for chest pains, the doctors have looked him over and have asked how much he drinks but no one is telling him it is too much. Three different doctors have looked at him, asked about drinking and have not said anything about it. His chest pain problems were stopped occuring when he stopped drinking caffiene - apparently 6 -12 diet cokes a day will do that to you! My husbands father drinks more than him and is in his 60's. Father in law runs in races 5K to half marathon and claims that the doctors say he is in perfect health, just high blood pressure. So my husband sees that his dad appears healthy, so drinking must not be that bad for his health. Hubby never seems drunk when he drinks, is never violent and is successful at his job which is another reason why he thinks I'm overeacting. The last couple of days he has cut back to 4 beers a night, but I'm not sure that will last long. He has done this just because we've argued lately. So, somebody tell me how much is okay, am I overreacting? If I'm not, what can I do about it, he is in complete denial and honestly believes that alcohol has no health risks. I'm so confused, if the doctors don't care, maybe I shouldn't either. My grandfather died of liver cancer as a result of heavy drinking. It was miserable for him and for my father who watched him die. I don't want DH to have the same fate.

FYI - He has completely quit the diet coke habit, so thankfully that is no longer an issue. I can't figure out a way to convince him that drinking is not good for, he is active and cares about his health, just doesn't think alcohol has a negitive effect on it. It is obvious to me and the rest of his family except his dad but convincing him is another story. How do you deal with someone in denial, something needs to click in his mind, but it needs to happen before he get really sick

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Kansas City on

I got into a huge fight about this with my husband yesterday! HUGE! He thinks that because he is not abusive that I should not have a problem with it. His dad drinks a fifth of vodka every night so his comparison is skewed. As in, I'm not my dad, blah, blah,blah. I tried to tell him his dad didn't start out with a fifth every night, it's a gradual process.

Anyway, I am sorry I have no advice because all the nagging and yelling in the world hasn't helped us yet. Just know you are not alone.



answers from Tampa on

I would be more excited about him stopping the diet coke. Personally I believe that diet coke is way worse for you than beer. The ingredients are so very bad for you not to mention the aspartame. Too much beer can be detrimental, but not nearly as bad as the diet coke. I would be thankful for one thing at a time. Good Luck.

More Answers



answers from Seattle on

A drink a night can be good for your health, but the combo of 12 diet cokes and 6 beers a day is REALLY bad. See if he can not drink for 4 days with out having withdrawal symptoms. If not, then he has a problem. The diet coke is not good either. Artificial sugars can ruin many of your bodily systems.
Just an FYI I am a medical coder and read charts daily. You are not overreacting, it shows he means a lot to you!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Check your local listing for ALANON. It is a support group for those who have been affected by another's alcoholism. I would check it out and see. They may be able to help you. As far as your hubby, you can't change him--- you just have to tell him how you feel and leave it at that. You cant change him you can only change how you react to him and his drinking.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Hi W., it is so nice of you to be concerned for your husband, and it sounds like for good reason. I agree with the posters who suggest Al-anon. You must take care of yourself first. Probably the first thing they will teach you there are the '3 c's'- you didn't cause it, you can't control it, and you can't cure it. It sounds like you need to hear 2 of these 3!

If in fact your husband has a problem with alcohol, no amount of logic or facts coming from you will change what he's doing. In this case, you are talking to the disease, and the disease is in control. Please don't frustrate yourself trying to reason him out of this. I really, really hope you go to an Al-anon meeting. You will feel much more centered and able to deal with this.

Good luck to you...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Eh... personally I believe it's 6 of 1, half a dozen of another.

On the one hand, one beer an hour gets filtered out very easily and has little to no effect on blood pressure (binge drinking however, does). Even 2 an hour. How long is the period over which he's drinking? If he's slamming a 6 pack in 30-60 minutes... that's one thing. If he's drinking over the course of a night (several hours)... that's another & he wouldn't appear drunk because he's NOT drunk. 1 beer an hour wouldn't even create a buzz for most people.

Continuing on that hand... if he's being honest with his doctors (and THREE have said the same thing)... you can take that his alcohol consumption isn't medically concerning.

On the OTHER hand... "A problem is a problem when it's a problem." My dad does NOT have a drinking problem. For years he'd have 1-2 beers every night after coming home from work. At a certain point he'd come home, eat & drink, and go to bed... because the beer started making him sleepy. That created a problem in my parent's marriage, so he switched to "no beer on school nights" so that he wouldn't go straight to bed after dinner and could spend time with my mom.

So this is why I'm on the fence: The doctors aren't concerned about his drinking affecting his blood pressure... and it sounds like your *fears* of it affecting his BP are the only real problem his drinking is creating. I can understand altering a habit for a practical reason... but for an unfounded fear it seems like... overreacting? Controlling? Pandering? Not sure of the precise word. It's like putting a nightlight in a child's room. There's nothing to be afraid of in the dark... but we do it anyway. We treat their fear as real, even though it's not real. Not that it's the wrong thing to do, but it's not based in reality. It's just a kindness until they learn better. Not catering to an unfounded fear isn't being in denial... it's just not being kind.

In general patients with high blood pressure under 65 are told that 2 drinks a day are fine, and over 65 that 1 drink per day is fine. Pregnant women are also told that exercise is healthy. All 3 are true in most cases. But pregnant women on bedrest should NOT exercise. That's why we see doctors to begin with... to find out what is true in our specific case beyond "generalities". If he's been told repeatedly that his alcohol consumption is fine by medical professionals you can talk until you're blue in the face and not achieve anything.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

1st thought: yes, it's too much. 2nd thought: but since he's been doing it for his adult lifetime, then he's pretty much immune to it.

I think what really concerns me is the total beverage consumption each day....that's a lot of soda & beer for one day! I cannot imagine how he can do it! & honestly, the diet soda is a risk in itself in such quantities.

What about seeing a nutritionist thru your local hospital.....& go together (as a couple) & make a commitment to each other to seek a healthier lifestyle?
Since he's had chest pains/trips to the ER, your insurance should cover it!

Good Luck....I'm stuck in the same boat with my husband - only he's a diabetic & just won't follow instructions! Large portions of food would be his downfall....not booze.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Augusta on

you are not over reacting.
more than 2 in my opinion is too many.



answers from Tampa on

The liver is an amazing organ, and it expands to meet an increased need.
So he doesn't seem drunk because of this incredible organ, but he is doing damage.
He did damage w/ the diet coke, and it will take the body awhile to fix all that did, so just because he stopped that isn't over yet.
Long term with drinking there is liver damage, high blood pressure- which often leads to impotence( you can certainly conplain about that possibility) effects on the body's ability to make bone properly.
Call up one of these docs and ask why the heck they didn't handle him?
When someone is married their care for their own body has effect on more than just themselves, it effects the whole family. You have a tough road tho, since his father is also addicted.
best, k



answers from Kansas City on

If you have to ask, then YES, it is too much!!

I agree with the others suggesting you go to an Al-Anon meeting, and to have his health checked WHILE you are there and make sure to tell the doc how much he REALLY drinks. (Most docs know patients underestimate their alcohol consumption, they just can't always guess by how much.) Best of luck to you!



answers from Minneapolis on

I think the CDC considers 2 beers for men "normal."

I suspect he is not telling doctors the truth about how much he drinks.

Sometimes all you can do with someone with problematic behavior is love them. And be sure not to lose yourself.



answers from Detroit on

Hi W.---It is well documented that excess alcohol increases the risk of cancer and other degenerative diseases. I believe the recommendation is no more than 2 drinks per day for a man. I'm sure your husband would say otherwise, but to drink 4-6 beers a night means he is likely drunk. Every night would likely be the definition of a functioning alcoholic.

Now, for his shining example. I'm sorry, but if his father has high blood pressure, he is NOT healthy. That is cardiovascular disease and a heart attack is definitely in the future. Illness just doesn't happen overnight. It takes years for the arteries to narrow and stiffen to the degree that it raises blood pressure. If the arteries cannot respond to needed blood flow changes, as in the case of exercise, he will suffer an adverse cardiovascular event sooner than later.

Have you heard of Tim Russert? He was the host of Face The Nation, a Sunday news program (I think). A month before he dropped dead of a heart attack he was given a clean bill of health from his cardiologist. BUT, Mr. Russert was taking meds for high bp as well as cholesterol lowering drugs. This shows that these conditions cannot be medicated in order to prevent death.

So, the bottom line is that people get sick long before there are any symptoms. Contact your local Alanon group and get some materials from them to share with your hubby. I will say my prayers and I wish you much luck in getting through to your husband, sooner than later. In health, D.



answers from Chicago on

Long term drinking effects people differently. When I was growing up, there was this older couple that lived down the street. My parents would go over for cocktails one day a week, and one night a week they would all play bridge.

In any case, the couple smoked a few packs of cigerattes a day and drank a good flask of whiskey each. The guy died around the age of 75. The women, in her early 90s, is still going strong --though I do think she had to stop the drinking because of medication.

If the booze isn't negatively impacting your hubby's life, then it isn't a problem. We all have our bad habits, and drinking is your hubby's.

With that said, I am married to a heavy drinker. He has been cutting back lately for weight management purposes. He is worrying about his heath. I doubt he will ever not be a heavy drinker, however. It bothers me sometimes, but since it doesn't impact his life, and I believe we all have our vices, I don't really worry about it.

You can't really do anything about it. That's the nature of this sort of beast.



answers from Portland on

I read only your first sentence. He's drinking too much. Too much is when the amount you are drinking interferes with your relationships or any part of your life or work.

I suggest you go to an Alanon meeting.

Has he had a complete physical recently. I was drinking every evening until blood tests done during a routine exam revealed that my liver enzymes are somewhat elevated indicating that my liver is a risk.

It is possible that his body at this time can handle that amount of alcohol without showing signs of injury. However, as his body ages it may begin to break down from the years of alcohol use.

I suggest that you ask him to go in for a complete physical and with the specific purpose of asking about his alcohol use. Go with him so that you can hear what the doctor has to say, too. Why should the doctors care? Theirs is a professional and not a personal relationship. They may have suggested he drink less but they're not going to give a sales pitch if the patient isn't interested, especially not in the ER. The person to care is your husband and his friends and family. Urge your husband to get a thorough medical evaluation and express an interest in the truth to the doctor.

I worked with men who were heavy drinkers. They appeared healthy right up until the time they died. One died of a major coronary while traveling. Alcohol affects the entire body and body chemistry. Eventually the body reaches it's limit to self-repair. Some body's never have a negative reaction to alcohol but some do. We can't say because so and so is a heavy drinker and is OK, that they will continue to be OK or that we will be OK.

You can't change him. I suggest that you stop trying to convince him and that you go to Alanon meetings to learn how to deal with your own feelings and him.



answers from Tulsa on

I think more than 2 a night is too much. but good luck convincing him of that.



answers from Denver on

As someone who knows, it is really hard to convince a drinker that they have a problem until they hit rock bottom. Every person has a different rock bottom and he is obviously not there yet. If he drinks and drives, that could mean a DUI, an accident etc. If the drinker has a spouse, for some it might mean when the other spouse is upset for others it may have to get to the point that spouse actually leaves. Some people have to lose EVERYTHING before they get it and sometimes even that can't make them stop. Other than your telling him it is a problem for YOU, how has he seen that it is a problem for him? Alcoholism is a very tricky disease to deal with, most especially for the drinker himself. He probably thinks that he is choosing to drink 6 plus beers a night---that he could stop whenever he wants. He just doesn't WANT to.

Good luck. And yep, try Al-Anon.



answers from Columbus on

One question I have - you said he has seen health care providers who have asked him about how much he drinks, but haven't said "6 beers a day is too much." So, is this what he said (I.e.: your husband says, "I told them how much I drink and they didn't tell me to stop."), or were you actually present during the question from the providers?

...if he's the one telling you the information, you might treat it as suspect and get some independent information on your own, perhaps by talking to your own doctor or maybe checking the website for AA.

However, if he cannot stop drinking those beers, then I would say he has either a chemical dependence or a psychological dependence (or both).

Next question: Worried About My Husbands Drinking