In a season of social gatherings, we often find ourselves reaching for an alcoholic beverage. We consider these to be special occasions, making it easier to release the reigns of moderation. But after all the tinsel and stockings are packed away, some of us return to our pre-holiday consumption levels while others find it challenging to wind down.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) released findings from a study showing the rates of alcohol dependence increasing with the amount of alcohol consumed. To avoid harm to yourself and those around you, it’s important to know the facts of alcohol consumption and where to turn if you need help.
Drinking levels defined. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), moderate drinking is up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. Binge drinking is a behavior of four drinks for women and five drinks for men within a two-hour period. Binge drinking on five or more days in the past month is considered to be heavy alcohol use.
Symptoms. Alcohol use disorders are medical conditions where a patient’s drinking causes distress or harm. The NIAAA suggests checking to see if you recognize the following symptoms. In the past year, have you:
- Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer, than you intended?
- More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?
- More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex)?
- Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?
- Continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout?
- Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over other aftereffects?
- Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
- Found that drinking—or being sick from drinking—often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
- Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink?
- More than once gotten arrested, been held at a police station, or had other legal problems because of your drinking?
- Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, a racing heart, or a seizure? Or sensed things that were not there?
If you answered “yes” to any of these, there may be cause for concern. A health professional can look at the severity of symptoms and help you decide the best course of action. Click here for a list of substance abuse treatment agencies funded by the State of Hawaii Department of Health’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division.