According to a survey from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, over 86% of Americans over the age of 18 reported drinking alcohol in their lifetime, and 56% reported drinking alcohol in the previous month. In the same survey, 26.9% of Americans over the age of 18 said they engaged in binge drinking in the previous month. It’s important to understand how alcohol use affects your health as well as the dangers of alcohol abuse and misuse.
Does alcohol provide health benefits?
Some research suggests possible health benefits of moderate alcohol use, such as lowering your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. The findings, however, aren’t certain, and the health risks involved with alcohol use outweigh the possible benefits.
It’s best not to drink alcohol. You do not need to drink alcohol for health benefits. There are other ways to get the possible health benefits from alcohol, including eating grapes, without drinking alcohol which can cause health issues. If you do drink, however, moderation is important.
What is a healthy amount of alcohol?
It’s best not to drink alcohol. Excessive alcohol use and alcohol abuse can cause health problems. If, however, you decide to drink alcohol, be sure to limit your use and practice moderation.
According to the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020”, moderate alcohol use means up to one drink per day for women, and up to two drinks per day for men.
A drink means:
- 12 ounces of beer
- 5 ounces of wine
- 1.5 ounces of spirits
What are the health risks associated with alcohol?
The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that 88,000 Americans die from alcohol-related causes each year. This makes alcohol as the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the U.S.
There are a number of short-term and long-term health risks associated with excessive alcohol use.
Short-term health risks of excessive alcohol use include alcohol poisoning, increased risk for injury and accidental death, risky behavior, and violence.
Long-term health risks of excessive alcohol use include increased risk of liver disease, brain damage, hypertension, breast, mouth, throat, esophageal, liver, and colon cancers, learning and memory problems, mental health issues such as depression, and alcoholism.
The American Medical Association defines alcoholism as “a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychological, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations.”
Alcoholism comes in many shapes and sizes. Some signs of alcoholism include:
- Difficulty controlling the urge to drink
- Excessive drinking over long periods of time
- Acquiring alcohol takes up a large part of a person’s time
- Building a tolerance to alcohol
- The feeling that alcohol is needed to perform tasks or responsibilities
- Alcohol interferes with daily life
- Withdrawal symptoms after not drinking.
You don’t have to deal with alcohol abuse on your own. Talk to your healthcare provider.