- The Washington Times - Friday, June 27, 2014

So much for the glass of wine each day. By federal definition, women who down eight alcoholic drinks a week — just over one a day — are “heavy drinkers,” headed down a path that could lead to alcohol-related problems.

For men, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention give a bit wider latitude, classifying “heavy drinkers” as those who imbibe more than 14 a week, CNN reported.

Drink size is defined by the CDC as a 12-ounce container of beer; an 8-ounce portion of malt liquor; a 5-ounce glass of wine; or a 1.5-ounce serving of distill spirits or liquor.

“That seems awfully low,” said Sheldon Shiraki, a patron at the Atlanta-based Fritti restaurant, to CNN. “I would think someone is a heavy drinker if they get drunk all the time. Two or three a night wouldn’t do that. That definition is crazy.”

The definition is especially notable given that many in the medical community have suggested that a glass or two of wine per day yields health benefits.

But George Koob, the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, said the definition of a “heavy drinker” has changed in the last couple decades to reflect new findings about the harmful effects of alcohol, CNN said. The NIAAA defines “heavy” or “at-risk” drinking the same as the CDC does — yet the National Survey on Drug Use and Health does not.

That group defines “heavy use” as “five or more drinks on the same occasion, on each of five or more days in the past 30 days,” CNN reported.

The definition has come under recent spotlight given the NIAAA’s recent finding that one of four who meet the “heavy drinking” standard also have an alcohol abuse problem — they either binge drink recently or have moved into the category of full-fledged addiction, CNN reported.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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