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  • Beer has been the most popular type of alcohol in the United States for many years. National studies from 2017 through 2019 show that a majority of Americans still prefer beer over other types of alcoholic beverages.

    The idea that a person cannot have an alcohol addiction or alcohol use disorder if they only drink beer is a myth. 

    Almost 15 million Americans had a reported alcohol use disorder (AUD) in 2017. It is likely that a large percentage of people surveyed had beer-drinking habits that contributed to their AUD due to its popularity.

    Beer has lower alcohol by volume (ABV) than stronger types of alcohol like wine or tequila, but drinking too much of it can still cause a number of health risks. A severe beer addiction may be treatable with a dedicated addiction treatment program.

    Effects Of Beer Addiction

    A beer addiction can start off fairly harmlessly. You may go out for drinks with friends or coworkers, and choose beer over another type of alcohol due to its lower alcohol content. If you cannot control the amount you drink, you may be at risk for a beer addiction.

    A beer addiction is a mental health problem. You may have an addiction if you:

    • think about beer constantly, even when you are not drinking
    • cannot control the amount of alcohol you drink
    • take part in binge drinking (4+ beers in one sitting) whenever you drink beer
    • take part in heavy drinking (more than 2 beers per day or 8-12+ beers per week)
    • feel like beer is hurting other parts of your life, like your work or relationships
    • experience withdrawal symptoms and cravings for beer when you try to quit

    Risks Of Beer Addiction

    Along with the damage it can cause to your mental health, a beer addiction can also cause many other health problems. 

    Many vital parts of your body are involved in the processing and breaking down of alcohol, and these areas are at a higher risk of problems due to the effects of alcohol.

    Health Problems

    Health problems linked to drinking too much beer include:

    • heart disease
    • high blood pressure
    • severe weight gain
    • liver damage
    • liver, colon, throat, and breast cancer
    • brain damage

    A can of beer tends to have more carbohydrates than other products with the same alcohol content, like a glass of wine or a shot of liquor. Beer even has a reputation for causing a larger gut, or “beer belly,” in men who drink beer, and some studies support this idea.

    Alcohol Dependence & Withdrawal Symptoms

    Ethanol, the main part of alcohol, is present in beer and other alcoholic beverages. Ethanol can cause both physical and psychological dependence since it creates a depressant effect in your central nervous system and promotes the making of pleasant memories about drinking.

    Dependence is a key part of many forms of addiction and AUDs. Physical dependence can lead to alcohol withdrawal symptoms if you try to stop drinking. Withdrawal symptoms can last for weeks or even months and may include:

    • vomiting
    • hallucinations
    • sleeping problems
    • seizures
    • delirium tremens (DTs)

    Treatment Options For Beer Addiction

    Few people who meet the requirements for an AUD actually look for treatment. Alcohol addiction treatment can be difficult and uncomfortable, but for people who come out sober on the other side, their outlook is often brighter.

    AUD treatment may start with a detox program, where alcohol is flushed from your system. You will likely go through withdrawal during this time, but you will have professional help to get through it. You may also be given medication to reduce your craving for beer.

    You may also be recommended for therapy and support groups. These sessions can teach you skills to stay sober and surround you with people who share a common goal.

    Avoid Non-Alcoholic Beer

    During your recovery, you will likely be told to stay away from triggers that can lead to a relapse. You may wonder if non-alcoholic beer can be drunk safely while staying sober.

    Non-alcoholic beer is often designed and produced to look, smell, and taste like beer. One study showed that the brain responded to pictures of alcoholic drinks, leading to an increased desire to drink. Non-alcoholic beer may also have up to 0.5% alcohol by volume.

    For some people, non-alcoholic beer may be a trigger to start drinking again. Scientific studies about non-alcoholic beer are not readily available, but you may hear similar advice in a support group.

    Alcohol Addiction Treatment

    Beer is still a popular option for drinking alcohol in the United States. Craft beers, which usually have a higher alcohol content than draft beers, have become especially popular in the past 10 years, adding to beer’s overall reputation.

    While some people can enjoy beer occasionally, others cannot control their drinking and end up struggling with an alcohol use disorder. For people in this situation, it can be difficult to quit without help even if they want to.

    To find an alcohol addiction treatment center that works for you or your loved one, contact our helpline today.

    Beer FAQs

    How Much Alcohol Is In Beer?

    The amount of alcohol in a drink is measured in ABV (alcohol by volume). The ABV of beer depends on the type of beer. 

    Most standard, mass-produced beers (such as Budweiser, Coors, and Michelob) have an ABV of about 5.0%. Most light beers (such as Bud Light and Coors Light) have an ABV of about 4.2%. 

    The ABVs of craft beers can vary greatly, though the average is about 5.9%. The strongest craft beer, Snake Venom, has an ABV of about 67.5%.

    Learn more about Beer Alcohol Content

    Is Beer Belly Really A Thing?

    No and yes.

    Some studies have shown that beer drinkers are no more prone to developing abdominal obesity than non-drinkers. Others have identified a link between heavy alcohol consumption in men (not women) and increasing waist circumference.

    What we know for sure is that beer is heavy in sugars and excess calories that the body will readily store as fat, which may be a factor in causing your midsection to grow. 

    Then again, some people will develop a gut without drinking alcohol at all while others may drink beer heavily without developing any undue concentration of fat over their waistline.

    Learn more about Beer Belly

    How Can You Get Rid Of A Beer Belly?

    The best way to get rid of a beer belly is to stop or reduce your beer intake, exercise regularly, and limit calories. You can also lift weights, get plenty of sleep, and pay close attention to what you’re eating.

    Learn more about How To Get Rid Of Your Beer Belly

    Does Beer Really Make You Fat?

    Beer is often associated with weight gain, specifically in the abdominal region (“beer belly”). It contains almost no nutritional value and can be high in calories. If you consume several alcoholic drinks on a regular basis, it may lead to unhealthy weight gain. 

    Beer also slows the body’s ability to burn fat because the liver prioritizes the metabolism of alcohol. In addition, if someone doesn’t get enough exercise or makes poor food choices while drinking, they increase the risk of unhealthy weight gain. 

    Learn more about Beer & Weight Gain

    Is Beer Good For You?

    Beer, when used in moderation, is thought to have limited health benefits including lowering one’s risk of heart disease, improving bone health, preventing kidney stones, and reducing the risk of developing diabetes.

    To learn more, read Is Beer Good For You?

    What Are Some Ways To Stop Drinking Beer?

    Making a plan, removing all the beer from your house, and talking to your doctor are just a few ways you can stop drinking beer.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Binge Drinking is serious but preventable health of excessive alcohol use
    National Institute on Alcohol Abuse And Alcoholism - Alcohol Facts and Statistics
    National Library of Medicine: PubMed Central - ALCOHOL METABOLISM
    National Library of Medicine: PubMed Central - Effects of moderate beer consumption on health and disease: A consensus document
    National Library of Medicine: PubMed Central - Neural response to alcohol stimuli in adolescents with alcohol use disorder
    Springer: Current Obesity Reports - Alcohol Consumption and Obesity: An Update

    Medically Reviewed by
    Manish Mishra, MBBS
    on August 20, 2022
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