Alcohol Abuse during the Holidays
The holiday season is upon us and alcohol is frequently more visible and free flowing during this time. Exactly where the line is between heavy drinking and clinical alcoholism can be vague.
A new study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found a distinction between drinking too much and being alcohol dependent. The researchers say 9 in 10 Americans who drink too much should not be classified as alcoholics, but this does not mean they are not doing real damage to themselves both physically and socially. In recent years binge drinking has been a growing concern, especially among young adults. Researchers say it is important to distinguish between binge drinking and alcoholism, the latter being a chronic disorder.
Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks on an occasion for women, five or more drinks on an occasion for men. Consuming eight or more drinks a week for women or 15 or more drinks a week for men also falls within the binge drinking definition. It turns out millions of Americans fall into the category of binge drinkers. The study found that nearly 1 in 3 adults is an excessive drinker, and most of them binge drink, usually on multiple occasions.
The researchers say excessive drinking is responsible for 88,000 deaths in the U.S. each year; 3,700 of those deaths were linked to alcohol dependence. There were also serious health effects from drinking too much in a short time period, such as violence, alcohol poisoning, and car accidents.
Here is some practical advice for the holidays. Think about how much alcohol you will consume before arriving at a party, then stick to your decision. If you find it difficult or uncomfortable to stick to your alcohol consumption plan, that is a red flag of a potentially more serious alcohol issue. If you are the host, offer a wide selection of non-alcohol beverages along with a variety of food to snack on. Never push someone to have a drink. Furthermore, if someone is intoxicated, try to discourage him or her from another drink or trying to drive by offering an alternative. The inconvenience of driving a friend home is better than living with only a memory during the holiday season.