It is no secret that alcohol consumption can cause major health problems. Alcohol abuse is responsible for: more deaths each year than the opioid crisis, a 50% increase in hospital emergency visits since the beginning of this century, and the rise in deaths from cirrhosis since 2006.
In the U.S., the culture around drinking and the way we drink has become more intense. Heavy drinking in college transitions to regular after-work happy hours, and popular culture makes alcohol consumption look glamorous, fun, and the “go to” for instant stress relief.
The good news is that most heavy drinkers are not addicts. Only about 10% of the estimated 16 million Americans who abuse alcohol fall into the severe category of misuse and may need to abstain from drinking. The other 90%, however, may recognize they are overdoing it and be concerned, even if they lack the physical symptoms of alcohol dependence.
Heavy Drinking is defined as “binge drinking” on 5 or more days in the past month, or 15 or more drinks a week for men and 8 or more drinks a week for women.
Binge drinking may sound like the term for an all-night bender, but it is easier to ‘binge” than you think. For healthy adults, binge drinking is considered to be a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration levels to 0.08g/dl. This typically occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men in the same occasion. (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)
Whether you have resolved to quit drinking or simply want to cut back on the amount you drink, focus on the benefits you will gain, such as improved health, better sleep, more money, more time, weight loss, happiness, engagement and everything else that may result from being better able to fully embrace life and the world around you.
The National Institute of Health’s Institute on Alcohol Abuse has Tips to Try for those who want to scale back on their drinking.
Keep Track. Keep track of how much you drink using a log or an App.
Count and Measure. Know the standard drink size so you can count your drinks accurately.
Set Goals. Decide how many days a week you want to drink and how many drinks you will have on those days.
Pace and Space. Sip slowly and have no more than one standard drink per hour. Drink some water in between each alcoholic beverage.
Include Food. Do not drink on an empty stomach.
Find Alternatives. Develop new healthy activities (and possibly new people to do those new alcohol-free activities) and ways to manage stress and cope with problems.
Avoid Triggers. If certain people, places, or activities trigger your urge to drink try to avoid them.
Plan to Handle Urges. When you can’t avoid a trigger and an urge to drink hits, remind yourself of your reasons for changing this behavior, distract yourself with another activity, talk to someone you trust, or try riding out the urge until it passes.
Know Your “No”. Have a polite and convincing “no thanks” when you are offered a drink and you do not want one.
Small changes can make a big difference. If one approach does not work, try something else until you find what works best for you.
If you think you need professional help in reducing you alcohol intake, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has a list of options and advice for treatment. Search Rethink Drinkingfor more information.
What is a Standard Drink?
Image source: http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/wha...
Article provided by the Wellness Neighborhood, helping you to Rethink Healthy.