VIVA Health: Alcohol Awareness Month
April is Alcohol Awareness Month and Dr. Tara Bryant with VIVA Health joined Chelsey on Studio10 with more information.
Q: What is the purpose of this yearly campaign?
A: Alcohol is the most used substance by youth and adults in the United States and the third leading cause of preventable death in our country. About 95,000 Americans die from alcohol-related causes each year. Alcohol Awareness Month is sponsored by the National Council for Alcoholism and Drug Dependence and it’s about increasing the understanding of the causes and treatments of alcohol abuse and alcoholism.
Q: What is the difference between “alcohol abuse” and “alcoholism?”
A: These terms are often used interchangeably. Both are related to a problem with drinking and negative impacts on day-to-day life from alcohol consumption. But there are differences between these two terms.
Alcohol abuse is a pattern of drinking that results in “significant and repeated consequences.” People who abuse alcohol may have a pattern of getting in trouble with the law, have difficulty staying in relationships, or may have trouble holding down a job because of their drinking. The key factor here is that they continue to drink despite these consequences.
Alcoholism is a chronic, long-term disease where the body becomes physically and psychologically dependent on alcohol. People with an alcohol addiction need to drink in order to function.
Q: What are so signs of alcoholism or alcohol dependence?
A: Tolerance, which means needing to drink larger quantities of alcohol to get the same mind-altering effects. Withdrawal, which is when you feel physically sick when you don’t have alcohol. Symptoms of withdrawal include headaches, nausea, tremors, and in severe cases, hallucinations and seizures. And compulsion, which is when you experience intense cravings to drink alcohol, and find yourself unable to stop drinking even when you want to.
Q: What about people who don’t drink every day but may consume more alcohol on the weekends? Is this a concern?
A: It depends how much alcohol they are drinking at one time. It’s considered binge drinking when a man has 5 or more drinks or a woman has 4 or more drinks in less than two hours. Binge drinking can indicate an alcohol abuse problem.
Q: What causes alcoholism?
A: Alcoholism is influenced by a number of hereditary and environmental factors. For example, if you’re genetically predisposed to addiction, you may be more likely to struggle with alcoholism. But regardless of your genetic makeup, excessive drinking can also lead to a cycle of alcohol abuse and abuse can quickly progress to a full-blown alcohol addiction. Being open about issues involving alcohol is an important part of reducing the stigma and judgement associated with this disease.
Q: If someone is concerned about having an issue with alcohol, what should he or she do?
A: Start by attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. They have meetings throughout the state and the country. Visit aa.org and type in your zip code to find a meeting near you. There is help available.
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