Affinity Health Plan

  • Health Awareness Series: January 2016: Alcohol Awareness

    January 29, 2016

    Take Charge of Your Health!

    Affinity Health Plan: Health Awareness Series: January 2016: Alcohol Awareness

    To Drink or Not to Drink?

    Drinking is not bad in and of itself– it is a question of how MUCH you are drinking and how it is affecting your life.

    How do I know if I or someone I love has a drinking problem?
    Two simple questions can help:
    1. In the past year, have you sometimes been under the influence of alcohol in situations where you could have caused an accident or gotten hurt?
    2. Have there often been times when you had a lot more to drink than you intended to have?
    How much is too much?
    • In the United States, 28% of people drink too much.
      • Men: more than 4 drinks per day and/or more than 14 per week
      • Women: more than 3 drinks per day and/or more than 7 per week
    • 37% drink within the limits
    • 35% never drink alcohol at all
    • The fact that you can “hold your liquor” can actually make it more likely that you will drink more than you should and that it can impact your health in a negative way
    Sometimes even a little is too much. Don’t drink if:
    • You are planning to drive a vehicle or operate machinery
    • You are taking medication that can interact with alcohol
    • You have a medical condition that gets worse with alcohol (high blood pressure, liver disease for example)
    • You are pregnant or trying to become pregnant
    What’s the harm of drinking?
    • Injuries: 40% of car accidents, 50% of trauma and sexual assault and 60% of burns are related to alcohol
    • Health problems: Heart, liver, stroke, sleep disorders, sexually transmitted infections and several types of cancer are linked to heavy drinking
    • Birth defects: Brain damage and other serious problems in the baby can be caused by drinking during pregnancy
    • Alcohol use disorders: For 18 million people in the US, alcohol interferes with work, with relationships, results in violent or abusive behavior, leads to arrests and destroys marriages, makes them unable to function in society, results in arrest or violent behavior, results in withdrawal, seizures or other physical symptoms
    What can I do to stop?
    • Keep trying to stop: How were you able to stop and what made you go back to drinking?
    • Why do YOU want to stop – pick a reason 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 buddy who WANTS to help you stop and whom you can turn to for support when the urge to drink is great
    • Talk to your doctor – there is medicine and counseling that can help you stop drinking and help identify the stress, anxiety or depression that sometimes makes people want to drink and 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): Free Booklet

    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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