Alcohol and Health: Where Do You Draw the Line?
By Jonathan D. Sherman, LMFT
Some may wonder, 'Why an article on alcohol in a community that seems fairly 'dry?'" Alcohol use and abuse is a problem here in Utah County and over the years I have worked with many religious and non-religious clients and their families around this issue. In addition to the clients I treat for addictions in my private practice I am also the Youth Substance Abuse Coordinator for Valley Mental Health in Summit County. I have also worked as a substance abuse counselor for the Utah Alcoholism Foundation in Provo. The problem is here and it can be treated.
Did you know that alcohol is the most widely used and abused drug? It is easily accessible to both adults and youth. Furthermore, there are many impacts that alcohol has on a person's health besides the obvious problem of alcoholism. Consider the following facts:
l. Medications and alcohol: More than 150 medications interact harmfully with alcohol. These interactions may result in increased risk of illness, injury, and even death. Contact your doctor or myself for a list of these medications.
2. Women and alcohol: Women overall drink less than men but are more likely to experience adverse consequences including damage to the heart muscle, liver, and brain, trauma resulting from auto crashes, interpersonal violence, and death. Researchers have identified no safe threshold for drinking during pregnancy.
3. Alcohol and the body: Alcohol can alter blood sugar levels and exacerbate diabetes; impair reproductive functions; and interfere with calcium metabolism and bone structure, increasing the risk of osteoporosis. Heavy drinking raises the risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, certain cancers, car crashes, unintentional injuries, violence, suicide, birth defects and overall mortality.
4. Alcohol problems and trauma: People with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are more likely than others with similar backgrounds to have alcohol use disorders both before and after being diagnosed with PTSD, and people with alcohol use disorders often also have PTSD.
5. Alcohol and specific populations: Alcohol abuse and alcoholism cut across gender, race, religion and nationality. In general, though, more men than women are alcohol dependent or have alcohol problems.
6. Alcohol and HIV/AIDS: People with alcohol use disorders are more likely than the general population to put themselves at risk for HIV infection. Similarly, people with HIV are more likely to abuse alcohol at some time during their lives.
7. Alcohol use among college students: According to a National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) study on college drinking released last year (2002):
Source: Changing the Culture of Campus Drinking, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism No. 58 October 2002, http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa58.htm
8. Alcohol and cancer: According to a recent Washington State University study cancer patients who drink excessively may shorten their lives. The reason: drinking too much can double the weight loss that typically occurs with cancer. That weight loss, which includes a depletion of body fat, can cut down on survival time.
9. Alcohol problems across the generations: Alcoholism may be inherited. You are at increased risk (four times as much) if a first-degree relative (mother, father, sister or brother) has an alcohol problem.
10. Alcohol and the workplace: According to a May 2002 study by researchers at the University of Buffalo, workers who drink are two times more likely to call in sick the next day. This affects any company's bottom line.
For more information on the research (culled from over 15 separate studies) behind these statistics as well as other resources visit www.bardos.net/addictions.
To help educate and strengthen our community Bardos Relationship Consulting is participating in the 5th Annual National Alcohol Screening Day, held on April 10th. However, for increased convenience I am making the free screenings and information available to the community beyond the one-day event and extending it throughout the whole month of April. Whether you or someone you love is affected by the effects of alcohol use or abuse please call 801.787.8014 to schedule your free screening, obtain free information and/or to ask questions. These screenings are completely confidential with no obligation to participate in further services. Members of the community are invited to find out when drinking becomes unsafe and how alcohol can affect health problems or functioning of medications.
Watch future columns for more strategies for creating greatness in your relationships.
How have you and your family dealt with Alcohol and Other Drug-related issues? Send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll post them here.
This article provided courtesy of Bardos Relationship Consulting 801.787.8014 bardos.net