Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Dealing with alcohol abuse: Things to know and do

In a 2006 behavioral risk study by the Centers for Disease Control, about one-third of adult Tennesseans said that they had at least one alcoholic drink in the last 30 days. More than 8 percent said they binged (drinking five or more drinks for males and four or more for females on one occasion).

Alcohol is harmful to people with certain health conditions. Pregnant women should avoid alcohol. Certain medicine should not be mixed with alcohol. Tylenol is an example.

Binge drinking can lead to serious health problems or even death.

A child of an alcoholic is about four times more likely to develop alcohol problems and also is at higher risk for other emotional problems. But a child of an alcoholic parent is not destined to be an alcoholic. More than half do not become alcoholic.

Some people use alcohol to self-treat and escape from problems. Anxiety, depression and feelings of worthlessness may be reasons for a person's use of alcohol or drugs. Alcohol might make a person feel better at first, but often makes problems worse.

Signs of a drinking problem: (1) if friends or family criticize the amount you drink; (2) if you feel bad or guilty about drinking; (3) if you have the urge to drink in the morning to steady nerves or get rid of a hangover; (4) if you hide your drinking or drink alone; (5) if you have blackouts or can't remember recent conversations after drinking; (6) if you deny drinking when others recognize you have a problem; (7) if you hide alcohol; (8) if you neglect duties; (9) if you exhibit violent behavior after drinking.

Alcoholics have common problems: (1) cravings or a big urge to drink; (2) inability to stop drinking; (3) withdrawal problems, such as nausea, shakes, sweating and anxiety after stopping alcohol; (4) feeling a need to drink more alcohol to get the "high" or "buzz" desired. Some alcoholics drink excessively at times and not at other times.

Alcoholics lack the self-control to stop drinking. Alcoholics often continue to drink even when facing big problems with work, family, or health.

Counseling and medication can help.

Medication can be used to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Medicine can also discourage drinking by making a person feel sick after drinking. Self-help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), or aa.org, have helped alcoholics find support to prevent relapses. Alcoholics have a disease that requires management throughout life.

Moderate drinking of red wine might have some health benefits for your heart. However, you can more safely reduce your chance of heart disease by exercising and eating foods that are low in fat.

What you should do:

If you have an alcoholic parent, make special efforts to protect yourself from developing problems with alcohol.

Prevent underage drinking. The risk for alcoholism is higher among people who begin to drink at an early age. Make sure alcohol is not available to young people in your household. Talk to children about the hazards of alcohol and drug abuse.

Drink moderately as an adult or not at all -- no more than one drink a day for most women and no more than two drinks a day for most men, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services guidelines. Avoid developing the habit of drinking every day to relax.

Do not drink if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. Even moderate drinking can be harmful to an unborn child.

Do not drink at all if you are a recovering alcoholic. An alcoholic is never cured and can always suffer a relapse. The longer a person abstains from alcohol, the more likely he or she will be able to stay sober.

Do not drink if you plan to drive or operate equipment.

Do not drink at all if you are taking certain medications that should not be mixed with alcohol. Don't drink if you have certain medical conditions that would be made worse with alcohol, such as liver disease or anemia. And don't take acetaminophen (like Tylenol) if you have been drinking or have a hangover.

Get help from a professional if you have signs of alcoholism.

Help an alcoholic. Confront an alcoholic after a drinking incident. Do not make any threats you are not prepared to carry out. Get help from friends and professionals.

Call Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to find a support group for yourself, a friend or a family member. Their support groups are among the most successful in helping people stay free of alcohol.

source: Memphis Commercial Appeal

1 comment:

Joe said...

The 8% with binge drinking does not surprise me. I read a report a few years back saying that 10% of the population (uk) were either alcoholic or had a drink problem.