Health & Environment

Alcohol Awareness Month Observed in April

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance used in the U.S. 15.1 million people over the age of 18 have a diagnosis of AUD (alcohol use disorder); this is a medical condition used when a patient’s drinking causes distress or harm. Alcohol use disorder is the third leading lifestyle cause of death.

Some common signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse are:

  1. Unable to limit the amount of alcohol that you drink.
  2. Spending a lot of time drinking, getting alcohol or recovering from drinking.
  3. Unable to fulfill obligations at work, home or school.
  4. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms (nausea, sweating, shaking) when you don’t drink or you drink to avoid these symptoms.
  5. Continuing to drink even if it is causing physical, social or interpersonal problems.

A standard drink in the US contains 0.6 ounces of alcohol; this amount equals:

  • 12 ozs beer
  • 8 ozs malt liquor
  • 5 ozs wine
  • 1.5 ozs or a shot of 80 proof spirits or liquor (gin, vodka, rum, whiskey)

No type of alcohol is safer than another type. All alcohol is equal in the affect it has on you and your body. It’s the amount that you drink that is important.

Alcohol affects every part of your body. It affects the central nervous system, is absorbed rapidly from the stomach and small intestine and metabolized in the liver. Some of the effects on your body include:

  • Central nervous system: lack of coordination, confusion, memory, judgment and decision-making (problems with decision making can cause motor vehicle accidents, falls, risky sexual behaviors and violent behaviors)
  • Liver: cirrhosis
  • Pregnant women: harm to developing fetus (fetal alcohol syndrome)

Excessive drinking includes:

  • Binge drinking: 4 or more drinks during 1 occasion for women in 2 hours, 5 or more for men
  • Heavy drinking: More than 1 drink/day for women, more than 2 for men
  • Drinking by pregnant women
  • Drinking by underage youth

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