We all know that “healthy” and alcohol aren’t usually associated with each other. Sure, once in a while we get to read about the health benefits of wine or beer, but that always comes with a big warning. Alcohol has a place in the old school medical world, much like other substances used to help with pain or strain in the body. Still, alcohol is also the number one abused drug, leading to alcohol poisoning, drunk driving and other negative effects on the body, mind and society.
We hear these mixed messages about alcohol all the time, no wonder we’re so confused:
- Wine, champagne and beer have some nutritional value, but that is no excuse for over-indulging.
- No matter what kind of alcohol you are drinking, your safety relies on your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). BAC is the measure of alcohol in your blood that is used to determine, among other things, whether you are legally drunk (.08 percent).
- Most experts recommend a glass of wine or beer (no more than two) each night, but the line for “heavy drinker” is set at eight drinks per week for women or 14 for men (depending on the source).
- For some, two drinks can be enough to hit the legal BAC limit, or get close enough to be a “buzzed” driver.
- In states like Colorado and Maryland, you can be arrested if you are erratically driving with a low BAC, and charged with a DWAI (Driving While Ability Impaired) or similar crime.
- When you drink and drive, the odds are you’ll end up with a car breathalyzer or an ignition interlock requirement, even if your BAC isn’t at the legal limit.
Healthy drinking my be an oxymoron, but there is some truth in all of the research about alcohol. By understanding the various messages we get about drinking, BAC and the health benefits of alcohol, we can make the most informed decisions possible, keep our hearts healthy and our streets safe from drunk drivers.