To qualify as a risky drinker, a woman has to drink more than three drinks in one day, or more than seven drinks in a week. A man must have more than four drinks in one day, or more than 14 in a week. The risk itself from breaching these limits isn't simply defined, it ranges from increased risk of violence, accidents, and self-injury to increased risk of sexual assault. It means an increased risk that something will happen that will irreversibly change someone's life. Alcoholism alcoholism.
Or, as the new documentary Risky Drinking from HBO and the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism&mdash,which premieres Monday night&mdash,shows, risky drinking could have already changed someone's life. Now, the risk is that their life will spiral completely out of control.
The documentary follows four individuals, each on the spectrum for at-risk drinking, and each on the verge of toppling further into their dependencies. Kenzie is a young professional who parties on weekends, most binge drinkers are in her age group, 18 to 34. She downs shots and dissolves into tears each night out. "We haven't gotten raped or murdered yet," says her friend. Then there's Mike, who is on the verge of domestic violence with his wife, and Noel, whose dependency affects her two daughters. The last is Neal, a grandfather so dependent on alcohol that he thinks he's going to die (and who violently shakes when off the drink).
Alcoholic quit drinking cold turkey
Risky Drinking doesn't finish their stories. All we know is that each tries to get help, whether from medication, support groups, or moderation management, which is a treatment plan that doesn't require total abstinence. Whether they are successful&mdash,whether they can get out of range of "alcohol use disorder," which makes up one third of the drinking spectrum&mdash,is left unanswered. It's a frustratingly open ending. But then, frustration is what you feel as you watch Kenzie, Mike, Noel, and Neal drink themselves stupid.
As the documentary points out, 70 percent of Americans drink alcohol. It's worth knowing the risks, even if most Americans aren't at the disorder stage&mdash,at least not yet. Risky Drinking assumes you already know this. It's just showing you what risky drinking itself looks like for real people, if you care to watch.