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February 11, 2019

 

Be mindful of your drinking throughout the year

 

As we move from January to February, some people’s motivation to keep their New Year’s resolutions starts to wane. But it’s a good idea to be mindful of how alcohol can adversely affect our health all year long.

Friends chatting outside.

Throughout the year, be mindful of how much alcohol constitutes a standard alcoholic drink and how much you are consuming. If you are hosting a gathering, be sure to have plenty of nonalcoholic drinks available for your guests. Other fluids can help them stay hydrated and also may slow the absorption of alcohol in the body, thereby reducing the peak alcohol concentration in their blood. Importantly, please take the necessary steps to help ensure your well-being and the safety of your guests.

Be mindful that binge drinking is dangerous, and it has many serious safety risks, and no redeeming value. It can lead to unintentional injuries from car crashes, falls, and alcohol overdoses, which can result in death. Binge drinking increases the chances of committing or experiencing crimes, including assaults and theft. People who binge drink are more likely to engage in unsafe sexual practices, putting themselves and others at risk for sexually transmitted diseases and unintentional pregnancies. Persistent binge drinking may also lead to alcohol use disorder (AUD) and increase the risk of cancers, liver damage, and other disorders. Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 percent—which is the legal limit for driving in the United States—or higher. This typically occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men in about 2 hours. Some people may engage in high-intensity drinking, which is consuming 2 or more times these amounts.   

Be mindful that another common consequence of excessive alcohol use is hangovers. Hangovers are characterized by headaches, fatigue, weakness, thirst, muscle aches, nausea, stomach pain, vertigo, and sensitivity to light and sound. During a hangover, attention, decision-making, and muscle coordination can all be impaired. Also, the ability to perform important tasks, such as driving and operating machinery can be compromised. There is no magic remedy for a hangover—only time can cure it. The only real prevention for hangovers is to limit alcohol intake or not drink at all.

Be mindful that drinking even small amounts of alcohol can pose risks to your health. It can make managing chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes more difficult. In addition, some medications interact badly with alcohol, making them not work properly or making them dangerous or even deadly. These medications include aspirin, acetaminophen, cold and allergy medicines, cough syrup, sleeping pills, narcotic pain medications, anxiety or depression medicines as well as some herbal remedies. Since these medications can take time to clear the body, problems can occur even if they are taken several hours before or after consuming alcohol.  

For more information, visit one of these NIAAA resources:

To learn more about what constitutes a standard alcoholic drink and about signs of an alcohol overdose, visit NIAAA’s Alcohol Overdose fact sheet: https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AlcoholOverdoseFactsheet/Overdosefact.htm.

To examine your drinking habits or a loved one’s, visit Rethinking Drinking at

www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov.

For information about treatment for alcohol use disorder, visit the NIAAA Alcohol Treatment Navigator at

https://alcoholtreatment.niaaa.nih.gov/.

Best wishes, GFK

 

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