Affinity Health Plan

  • Health Awareness Series: April 2016 -Alcohol Consumption

    April 19, 2016

    To Drink or Not to Drink?

    Drinking alcohol is not bad in and of itself.

    Alcohol includes beer, wine and liquor. Some research has even found that a glass of red wine is beneficial to your health. However, it is a question of how MUCH you should drink and how it affects your life.

    How do I know if I or someone I love has a drinking problem?
    Ask yourself two simple questions:

    • In the past year, have you been under the influence of alcohol in situations where you could have caused an accident, gotten hurt or injured others?
    • Do you often have more to drink than you intended to?

    How much is too much?
    In the United States, 37% of the population drinks alcohol within the recommended limits, and 35% never drink at all.
    However, 28% of people drink too much:

    • For men, more than 4 drinks per day and/or more than 14 per week is too much.
    • For women, more than 3 drinks per day and/or more than 7 per week is too much.

    The fact that you can “hold your liquor” can actually make it more likely that you will drink more than you should, negatively impacting your health.

    Sometimes even a little is too much. Don’t drink if:

    • You are planning to drive or operate machinery.
    • You are taking medication that when taken with alcohol will not work as well.
    • You have a medical condition (high blood pressure, liver disease, etc.) that gets worse with alcohol.
    • You are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.
    What’s the harm of drinking?
    • Injuries: 40% of car accidents, 50% of physical trauma, and 60% of burns are related to alcohol.
    • Violence: Arguments, domestic abuse and sexual assault are made worse due to overdrinking.
    • Health problems: Heart, liver, stroke, sleep disorders, sexually transmitted infections and several types of cancer are linked to heavy drinking
    • Birth defects: Babies can suffer from brain damage and other serious problems caused by drinking during pregnancy

    For 18 million people in the US, alcohol interferes with work and relationships, results in violent or abusive behavior, leads to arrests and destroys marriages, makes them unable to function in society, results in withdrawal and depression, seizures or other physical symptoms.

    What can I do to stop or decrease my drinking?

    • Keep trying to stop: How were you able to stop before, and what made you go back to drinking?
    • Why do YOU want to stop? Think of the reasons to stop that works for you.
    • Identify the triggers that make you want to drink and come up with a plan to avoid them.
    • Find out what makes it hard to stop and develop a plan to deal with it.
    • Find a friend or group who WANTS to help you stop and who you can turn to for support when the urge to drink is strong.
    • Talk to your doctor – there is medicine that can help you stop drinking and counseling that can help identify the stress, anxiety or depression that sometimes makes people want to drink or makes it hard for them to stop.
    • Eat a healthy diet and be physically active.
    A word from Dr. Sharon Deans, Chief Medical Officer at Affinity Health Plan:

    Friends help friends STOP drinking. YOU are worth the effort it will take to stop problem drinking and take back your health, your family and your life!

    To learn more:

    National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

    KidsHealth – Drugs and Alcohol

    Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

    Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

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