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People who drink frequently may be "gray-area" drinkers

Are you a "gray area" drinker?
People who drink frequently may be "gray area" drinkers 04:26

Maureen Anderson would spend hours at home alone with her baby. She said it was the isolation that led her to drink more frequently.

"It became less of an out-of-the-house special occasion party thing to more of an at the end of the day, time to have a glass of wine, shut off my brain, relax," Anderson told CBS News.

The married mother of four would soon go from a glass of wine to an entire bottle of wine. She didn't consider herself an alcoholic but a "gray-area drinker."

Dr. Aakash Shah, chief of Jersey Shore University Medical Center's Addiction Medical Center, said that gray-area drinkers do not have a physical dependency on alcohol so they cannot be labeled as alcoholics, but the tendencies are similar.

"I think the term falls into this gray area because it doesn't yet meet the medical definitions of alcoholism. But I think that risk is there," Shah said.

According to UCLA Health, alcohol consumption spikes between Thanksgiving and the new year. For some people, it doubles compared with the rest of the year.

Nutritionist Jolene Park said she sees more clients around this time of year. Park quit drinking eight years ago and now counsels people to stay away from drinking by replacing it with healthy habits like exercising, eating better and practicing natural relaxation techniques.

She said that gray-area drinkers usually stop drinking for a bit but later continue on — later regretting it.

"Gray-area drinkers can and do stop drinking. That's very, very characteristic. They stop frequently and say, you know, they have a night, They wake up the next morning and say, 'I can't keep drinking like this,'" Park said.

Nationally, drinking is on the rise.

According to the Journal of Addiction Medicine, during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown drinking among women increased by more than 50%. For women with children under 5, it shot up more than 300%.

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