Units of Alcohol in Beer:
Is Alcoholism Possible?

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited : November 27,
| 4 Sources

A lot of people are actually surprised to discover what counts as an alcoholic drink. Beer, regardless of the units of alcohol in beer, is still an alcoholic beverage. Alcohol is a mood altering and mind altering drug. While many people don't consider it so, the reality is that like any other drug, it can help you to feel more relaxed, more at ease in social situations, and often may help you to feel as though you fit in better.

Alcohol Content Of Beer

This is because alcohol is a depressant that will tend to relax you even as it numbs you slightly.

Your drinking very literally shuts off the part of the brain that makes you feel nervous and self-conscious. It helps you to lose those inhibitions and tension that make you feel ill at ease, which is a big part of why scientists believe that drinking has become a social event.

The more that you drink the more relaxed you will become. Your speech may slur, your actions may be different than they would be if you did not drink, or drank somewhat less, and the more drinks you have, the greater the effects of that alcohol will be.

Alcohol Content Of Beer
Type Of Drink Is Unimportant

The kind of alcohol that you drink is not at issue. Any of alcoholic drink may cause these effects. It has long been a myth that beer drinkers can't, or don't become alcoholics, but nothing could be further from the truth.

If you drink an excessive quantity of any kind of alcohol over a long period of time, you may become dependent upon that effect and the alcohol in your system. This holds true whether you drink scotch, or sherry, or beer.

Beer may take a little longer in order to give you the same effects as the stronger types of alcohol, but this may also depend on your body weight, your gender, and your age, as well as genetic factors.

Alcohol Content Of Beer
Beer or Vodka, It Makes No Difference

Beer drinkers are just as prone to alcohol dependency as those who drink other alcoholic beverages. While beer has been thought to be less of an intoxicant, or less habit forming than other kinds of alcohol, the fact is that for many people, it is easier for you to become dependent on beer. The low alcohol content of beer is irrelevant.

It's believed that this is so because quite often beer is considered less habit forming, so we're not as on guard against it, but also because beer drinkers tend to drink more over a longer period of time.

The typical beer drinker may, over the course of a day out, or a barbecue, drink 5-10 beers. This consumption is actually a heavier intake of alcohol than if you had actually had two glasses of wine.

Just for the sake of comparison, the following are the actual alcohol by volume numbers for beer, light beer, and wine.

  • Low-alcohol beer: 0.1%-1.2%
  • Beer: 2%-12% (typically 4%-6%)
  • Wine: 9%-18% (usually 12.5%-14.5%)
  • Vodka: 35%-50% (usually 40%)
Normally, you will drink more over the course of a day when you are drinking beer, such as at an outing or a party.

While you may not feel as intoxicated as you would with one or two glasses of wine, you will have consumed the same amount of alcohol, simply scattered out over a longer period of time. The low alcohol content of beer makes no difference whatsoever.

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Alcohol Content Of Beer
It's Easier To Become Alcohol Dependent If You Drink Beer!

In reality, many physicians say that it is easier to become dependent on alcohol if you are a beer drinker simply because the effects may be insidious, as can the dependency. No matter what kind of alcohol that you are addicted to, the same physical effects will enter into play.

Alcohol reduces your heart rate, breathing rate, and how healthily your brain functions.

Your brain cells are not able to regenerate. Your higher alcohol consumption means that your brain cell activity will be lower than those who drink only mildly or moderately. You are risking permanent brain damage.

The liver suffers each time you take a drink. While very mild drinking is often recommended for some types of conditions, even mild to moderate drinking affects the liver. Fatty liver, an early-stage alcoholic liver disease, happens to about 90% of people who consume more than one and a half to two ounces of alcoholic drink per day.

Alcohol is a drug and it must be filtered out of the body. The liver and kidneys attend to that filtration. If your drinking is heavy, then the filtration process must also be heavy and the organs do suffer from that. Alcoholic liver disease is a real possibility for those who abuse alcohol.

The Dangers of Non-Alcoholic Beer

Lastly, it is also rumored that non-alcoholic beer can be a good substitute for the recovering alcoholic. In fact, the reverse is true. The taste of the beer may impel a desire for 'true' beer, and non-alcoholic beer does actually contain some minute amounts of alcohol, and should therefore not be used by those who have a drinking addiction.

Alcohol can be consumed, and a drink probably isn't going to do you any real injury unless you're already addicted to it.  People with alcohol use disorders, nonetheless, drink to excess, compromising both themselves and others. The key is to drink responsibly and to know when you've had enough and then stop. If you can't accomplish that, then it's time to look for some help.

If you or someone close to you wants help and advice on quitting drinking then take a look at the following pages:

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 


I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More


National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. What Is a Standard Drink?. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/what-standard-drink#:~:text=In%20the%20United%20States%2C%20one,which%20is%20about%2040%25%20alcohol

Medline Plus. Alcohol use and safe drinking. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001944.htm

American Psychological Association. Understanding alcohol use disorders and their treatment. 2021. https://www.apa.org/topics/alcohol-disorders

Cleveland Clinic. 6 Surprising Ways Alcohol Affects Your Health — Not Just Your Liver. March 24, 2020. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/6-surprising-ways-alcohol-affects-health-not-just-liver/

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