How drunk is drunk?

how much does one have to drink before it becomes sinful? I’m a younger guy, and am often in a situation where i am asked to drink a lot. to be honest, i enjoy doing it. however, I understand that drunkenness is a sin, and building a relationship with god is my top priority. the catechism says:


“The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine. Those incur grave guilt who, by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and others’ safety on the road, at sea, or in the air.”

clearly driving while even slightly impaired is grave matter. as is drinking too much alcohol. I want to avoid playing “sin chicken” where i try to get as close as i can to sinning without actually doing something wrong. which is probably itself wrong. But in this case I genuinely am struggling to know when to stop. should i stop when my cheeks get tight or my speech slurs? or is too much only if i black out or get too sloppy to take care of myself? or is it wrong when it keeps me from studying or other obligations?

tldr: i know drinking is not a sin (Jesus made a giant amount of wine) but drunkenness is sinful, how much booze is too much?

If I were you, I would follow the guidelines for what constitutes ‘safe’ levels of drinking health-wise. In the USA, that’s described as 1-2 units of alcohol a day and no more than 14 units in a week. I’m not sure how units are calculated in America, but it the UK a unit is half a pint of normal-strength beer, or one small glass of wine. As you say, if you are driving or operating machinery, you should not drink alcohol at all.

If you find that you are tempted to do things you wouldn’t do without a drink, I reckon you’re drinking too much! Obviously, the amount it takes to get to this point varies from person to person.

Moderation means stopping before you are intoxicated, before you are slurring your speech.

If you are drinking with the intent of getting drunk, that is a problem. Enjoying a drink is one thing, drinking to get drunk is another.

By young, do you mean underage? If so, you need to stop altogether. If you are being asked to drink a lot, you have the freedom to say no. Please don’t blame someone else for your drinking. If you are in fact of legal age to drink, you should be old enough to do so responsibly, or to even say no. If you cannot bring yourself to say no, that is a different problem.

Modern Catholic Dictionary:

DRUNKENNESS. Overindulgence in alcoholic beverages. On Catholic moral principles, the degree of sinfulness in excessive drinking depends on how this excess is known to affect this particular drinker. It is a grave matter if it is foreseen that this drink will cause one to lose the use of one’s senses or will put one in such a state that he or she is no longer able to distinguish right from wrong. It is a venial matter if one has reason for believing that this amount of drinking, though actually excessive, will neither deprive one of the use of one’s senses or of the power to distinguish right from wrong.

Drinking alcohol reduces inhibitions and puts a person in a place of being more likely to sin, induce others to sin, or cause unintended harm.

To willfully put oneself in such a position is sinful.

Drinking to a point where one’s judgement is impaired and inhibitions are lowered is sinful.

People have differing levels of tolerance etc, but most people I have encountered, if they’ve had more than two drinks, their behavior changes enough that it is readily apparent. They might not be “drunk” at two drinks, but they are inebriated. It can be very difficult to tell how oneself is acting, even though we think we can, but others can see it.

I have a friend and I can tell if he’s had even one, because his speech patterns etc change that quickly. He is not drunk, but even with one drink he is not the same person.

Three drinks and he’s is clearly inebriated, while he swears he can’t even “feel it” yet.

With three drinks in him he will do things he would NEVER do sober, though he just feels at 3 drinks he is getting a slight “buzz”.

Ask a trusted friend what they see in you when you drink, and make an informed decision.

The Call to Be Imitators of God and to Walk in Love
Pope John Paul II
During the general audience on Wednesday afternoon of 4 August, the Holy Father gave the following address.

  1. During our talk last Wednesday I quoted the fifth chapter of the Letter to the Ephesians (vv. 22-25). Now after an introductory glance at this classic text, one should examine the way in which this passage—so important both for the mystery of the Church and of the sacramental character of marriage—is situated in the immediate context of the whole letter.
    While realizing that there are a number of problems discussed among biblical scholars as regards the authorship, the date of composition, and those to whom the letter was addressed, one must note that the Letter to the Ephesians has a very significant structure. The author begins this letter by presenting the eternal plan of the salvation of man in Jesus Christ.
    “God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…has chosen us in him that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace…as a plan for the fullness of time to unite all things in him…” (Eph 1:3, 4-7, 10).
    The author of the Letter to the Ephesians, after having presented in words full of gratitude the plan which, from eternity, is in God, and at a certain time is already fulfilled in the life of humanity, beseeches the Lord that men (and directly those to whom the letter is addressed) may fully know Christ as head: “He has made him the head over all things for the Church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (1:22-23).
    Sinful humanity is called to a new life in Christ, in which the pagans and the Hebrews should join together as in a temple (cf. 2:11-21). The Apostle preaches the mystery of Christ among the pagans, to whom he especially addresses himself in his letter, bending “the knee before the Father” and asking him to grant them “according to the riches of his glory to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man” (3:14, 16).
    Vocation flowing from the divine plan
  2. After this profound and moving revelation of Christ in the Church, in the second part of the letter the author passes to more detailed instructions. These are aimed at defining the Christian life as a vocation flowing from the divine plan, which we have previously spoken of, namely, from the mystery of Christ in the Church. Here also the author touches various questions which are always valid for the Christian life. He makes an exhortation for the preservation of unity, underlining at the same time that this unity is constructed on the multiplicity and diversity of Christ’s gifts. To each one is given a different gift, but all, as Christians, must “put on the new nature created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (4:24). To this is linked the categorical summons to overcome vices and to acquire the virtues corresponding to the vocation which all have obtained through Christ (cf. 4:25-32). The author writes: “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us…in sacrifice” (5:1-2).
    Condemns pagan abuses
  3. In the fifth chapter of the Letter to the Ephesians these directives become more detailed. The author severely condemns pagan abuses, writing: “For once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light” (5:8). And then: “Therefore do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine [referring to the book of Proverbs 23:31]…but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart” (5:17-19). The author of the letter wishes to illustrate in these words the climate of spiritual life which should animate every Christian community. At this point he then goes on to consider the domestic community, namely, the family. He writes: “Be filled with the Spirit…always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God the Father. Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ” (5:20-21). Thus we enter precisely into that passage of the letter which will be the theme of our special analysis. We might easily observe that the essential content of this classic text appears at the meeting of the two principal guidelines of the entire Letter to the Ephesians: the first, that of the mystery of Christ which, as the expression of the divine plan for the salvation of man, is realized in the Church; the second, that of the Christian vocation as the model of life of the baptized individual, and of the single communities, corresponding to the mystery of Christ, or to the divine plan for the salvation of man.

The Theology of the Body
Saint John Paul II

Telling someone to stop after 1-2 units of alcohol is like telling someone to eat just 5 potato chips. But by all means, enjoy your 5 potato chips… haha.

A unit of potato chips is one bag. Size of bag does not matter. :wink:

I also have wondered where the line is drawn between moderate and excessive amounts of alcohol. We all have different tolerances. I drink a couple beers about once a week while I watch baseball or something on TV. I decided to follow the guidelines for legal driving in California as a guide, so I stop at two. Even this small amount gives me a relaxed feeling, but I am still morally aware. I’m still legal to drive, but I wouldn’t unless it was an emergency. Is it worth it to possibility put yourself or someone else in danger because you want to drink alcohol? I just set an arbitrary limit of two and that’s it. For some that is too much. Some feel it’s better not to drink at all and then you don’t have to worry about the whole issue. You can still hang out with your friends and not drink alcohol. You shouldn’t be drinking just to please your friends.

To re post an older post of mine:

I will answer in general – not to specifics (numbers of drinks etc)

When it is excessive there is sin. When drinking is contrary to temperance or health etc.

Examples of when drinking is grave sin (mortal sin) would be - getting “drunk” -that is -total loss of ones reason, drinking leading to other mortal sins, drunk driving etc.

Going beyond temperance can be venial sin (I set aside any question of driving…that brings other aspects into things).

(And of course a person with a history of overdoing it -ought to take great care - and if any have say alcoholism - that is a “never drink” situation)

And one ought to look a new research as well in terms of health.


1809 Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. It ensures the will’s mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable. The temperate person directs the sensitive appetites toward what is good and maintains a healthy discretion: "Do not follow your inclination and strength, walking according to the desires of your heart."72 Temperance is often praised in the Old Testament: "Do not follow your base desires, but restrain your appetites."73 In the New Testament it is called “moderation” or “sobriety.” We ought "to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world."74

To live well is nothing other than to love God with all one's heart, with all one's soul and with all one's efforts; from this it comes about that love is kept whole and uncorrupted (through temperance). No misfortune can disturb it (and this is fortitude). It obeys only [God] (and this is justice), and is careful in discerning things, so as not to be surprised by deceit or trickery (and this is prudence).75

Without knowing your height/weight and tolerance, anything more than 3 is pushing it.

If you are feeling impaired or even buzzed, you have had too much to drink. Be aware that you can still be charged with a driving under the influence even if a breathalyzer test is below the limit - if the officer thinks you are impaired.

I don’t think lowering inhibitions isn’t necessarily sinful. St. Thomas Aquinas said that it’s fine to drink to be the point of jolly. I may be overly guarded even among close friends and family and I may loosen up with alcohol.

The line is crossed when either:

  1. One knows it’ll likely lead to sin. If you get violent when you drink, don’t drink.
  2. It destroys dignity. If you look like a fool, throwing up on yourself, stop.

There may be other reasons but those 2 come to mind.

There isn’t a ‘magic number’ of alcoholic beverages you can have. When deciding if something is a sin or not you must look at the context of the situation, the intent, the actual behavior, etc.

There is no sin in consuming alcohol, in and of itself. If a person wishes to have a beer with their dinner, or have a quiet drink after work now and again, it’s fine. Glass of wine after a hard day? Have at it.

The problem arises when it comes to ‘excessive’ drinking. So, what is ‘excessive’? Well, a few people here have said that anything over 2 or 3 drinks is excessive, but without a time-frame to go with that, I have to disagree. 3 beers in an hour would probably be excessive. At a social function that runs for hours on end, 3 beers during the entire evening would probably be fine if properly spaced out.

About once a month I have a group of friends over and we play monopoly. Beer or wine is practically a requirement for the night. A game usually lasts well into the evening. Each of us probably drink between 4-6 beers over nearly 8 hours. Some might say that is excessive, but if you ever sat and watched us you’ll see its a rather mellow affair. Everyone acts responsibly. Nobody is “out to get trashed” or anything like that. We simply enjoy our beer and play board games.

In other words, we aren’t drinking ourselves stupid, which is what you want to avoid.

If you get together with your buddies, and go out for the night with a goal of “Hey, lets get wasted and do something crazy” then yes, I think it is safe to say you are heading toward the land of ‘excessive’ drinking.

And tolerance has a bit to do with it too. Some people handle alcohol better than others. If two drinks is going to have you dancing around with a lamp shade on your head, then two drinks has become excessive for you.

Also, as others have pointed out, drinking is sometimes merely the gateway to other sins. Remember the thief who steals your good senses. The worry here is that booze lowers your inhibitions, and you do things you would not normally do. Maybe it’s giving in to lust. Maybe it’s getting into a bar fight. Maybe its simply that you become loud or obnoxious after a few drinks and publicly embarrass yourself.

Not good things, my friend.

General rules of thumb: 1) Dont go out looking to get smashed just for the sake of it. 2) Know your own limits. If you get drunk on 2 beers, don’t have the second one. 3) Know the setting that you are in. A college party with drunk frat boys is a completely different environment than a few beers and good conversation with friends at home. 4) Know that you are ultimately responsible for your own actions. Just because your buddy is throwing back shots and being goofy doesn’t mean you have to.

And a final word of advice, especially when out with friends: SPACE OUT the alcohol. I know when you are in that young “Party Mentality” your friends want to run straight to the bar, order beers and shots and drink it all down like it is going out of style.

Dont be that guy. Why? Because two hours into the night he’s going to be all over the place. I dont care what anyone says. Being drunk is not attractive.

Get to the bar, order something sensible. You don’t have to chug your beer. Sit back and enjoy it. And there is nothing wrong with having a non-alcoholic beverage in between. Have the bartender pour a coke into a short glass. Everyone will assume it is a mixed drink, and that’ll keep them from hassling you when they get to that drunk stage of “Dude, why arent you drinking more?”

Moderation is the key. Drink responsibly my friend.

To generalize a lot, a single serving of alcohol (12 oz beer, 5 oz wine, or 1.5 oz 80 proof liquor) will raise the BAC about 0.02%. 0.08% is the legal limit for driving. Alcohol is evacuated at about 0.015%/hour. Thinking back, that’s probably the line for me between feeling good and drunk. FYI, a pint is 16 oz. so 3 pints will you get to the legal limit.

Good points, well said.:thumbsup:

Still wonder if the OP is old enough to drink legally or not though.:rolleyes:

Drunk is impaired. You are a rational creature; your reasoning mind is a gift of God. It’s a grave sin to throw away your mind.

So don’t go that far.

Anyways. Here’s some Chesterton.

“No animal ever invented anything as bad as drunkenness – or as good as drink.” – G.K. Chesterton

“We should thank God for beer and burgundy by not drinking too much of them.”

ha, don’t worry irishmom, i’m 24, i just say i’m younger because im not married or anything, and im not like methuselah level old yet.

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