You Might Be Drinking Way More Than You Think

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Holiday party season is fast approaching, so we're queueing up our go-to hangover remedies and steeling ourselves for another fall and winter of (accidentally) (maybe not accidentally) blowing past our limit on vodka sodas. But new research from the Global Drug Survey (GDS), published in the journal Social Science and Medicine, has us wondering if we actually know what that limit is.

Of its 22,289 respondents from 123 countries, the GDS found that about two thirds (68%) drink to a "hazardous or harmful" extent — an alarmingly high number on its own. But, it turns out that 77% of these heavy drinkers don't think they're imbibing all that much: They rated their drinking habits as "average to low."

Researchers behind the survey believe this disconnect between people's perception of their drinking habits and how much they actually drink is a result of social stigma; respondents possibly gave a mismatched rating out of fear of judgment. As it happens, 36% of those surveyed expressed interest in drinking less than they currently do.

If you're worried about your drinking habits, you can start by asking yourself these two questions: “How often do you have six or more drinks on one occasion?” and “As a result of your drinking, did anything happen in the last year that you wish didn't happen?” Contact the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism for more resources if you're not pleased with the answers.

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