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Facts about Alcohol

While drinking alcohol is widely accepted as a cultural norm, a way to relax or bond in a social setting, it is still a drug that must always be taken seriously. There are many concerning facts about alcohol and its effects on the human body and mind. The following are some facts and statistics to consider so the general population remembers to drinks safely and respectively.

Alcohol 101

First, what constitutes a drink? A standard drink is 0.6 ounces or 1.2 tablespoons of pure alcohol, that is:

  • 12 ounces beer or wine cooler
  • 8 ounces malt liquor
  • 5 ounces wine
  • 1.5 ounces 80-proof distilled spirits or liquor (gin, vodka, rum, whiskey)

Drinking Patterns: What They Mean

How much alcohol consumption is considered acceptable and when is drinking considered problematic and too much?

Normal Consumption. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA), if you’re a man and you drink less than 14 drinks a week, that’s considered within normal limits. For women, seven drinks a week or less is considered an acceptable amount.

Heavy drinking. People who are considered heavy drinkers drink more than the norm and may be considered alcoholics. Guidelines to consider are:

  • Women who drink more than 3 drink per day or more than 7 drinks a week
  • Men who drink more than 4 drinks per day or more than 14 drinks a week

Binge drinking. This the most common form of excessive drinking. It does not label the person as alcohol dependent. Binge drinking is more common among 18 to 34 years old. 1 in 6 adults binge drinks about four times a month. Binge drinking is defined as:

  • 4 or more drinks for women over 2 hours
  • 5 or more drinks for men over 2 hours.

Who Should Abstain from Alcohol Completely

Certain populations should abstain from drinking alcohol include:

  • Pregnant or trying to conceive
  • Taking over the counter (OTC) medications that adversely react with alcohol
  • Under 21
  • Recovering alcoholic
  • Suffering from a medical condition worsened by alcohol
  • Driving or involved in any activity requiring mental alertness and coordination
  • Those addicted to other drugs; alcohol often can be a dangerous mix

Alcohol Health Risks

Excessive alcohol use is the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S. annually. It results in 1.2 million emergency room visits a year and an additional 2.7 million physician’s office visits a year in the U.S.

Short-term health risks of excessive alcohol intake

  • Violence including spousal and/or child abuse
  • Risky sexual behavior potentially leading to sexual transmitted diseases (STD) and unplanned pregnancy
  • Unintended injuries including motor vehicle accidents, falls, drownings, burns and firearms injuries
  • Miscarriage, still birth and birth defects
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Death

Long-term health risks of excessive alcohol intake

  • Chronic diseases including hypertension, cardiomyopathy, atrial fibrillation, cancer of the throat, liver or colon, liver disease including hepatitis C and cirrhosis, pancreatitis and gastritis
  • Neurological issues including stroke and dementia
  • Psychiatric diagnoses like depression and anxiety potentially leading to suicide
  • Social problems including those leading to unemployment and family issues

Public Health Issues

The general public is impacted by the rampant alcohol abuse across the country. There are public health issues, which include:

  • Men have a higher rate of alcohol-related deaths and hospitalizations than women
  • Men are twice as likely as women to drive intoxicated
  • The economic impact on the U.S related to excessive alcohol consumption is $223.5 billion each year.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption accounts for 79,000 deaths each year

Alcohol use and abuse bears the attention of an army of healthcare professionals. They are critical in providing the support and resulting healthcare needs to those who suffer the consequences of excessive alcohol intake. Alcohol treatment centers provide the needed detox and counseling/support to overcome this addiction.

 


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