The month of April is known for many things. Showing the first signs of spring, the end to March madness and, in the wellness community, bringing awareness to alcohol consumption. Learning new or reviewing the facts of alcohol consumption is important to your health. In fact, not only is drinking too much unhealthy and dangerous, it’s also costly. In 2010, the U.S. lost $249 billion, or $2.05 a drink, due to losses in productivity, health care, crime and other expenses. Binge drinking was responsible for 77% of these costs, or $191 billion. Here are a few facts to review to make sure you don’t become a statistic.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “binge drinking”. Many people simply assume that means drinking too much without fully understanding what is considered “too much”. Binge drinking is consuming 5 or more alcoholic drinks for males or 4 or more alcoholic drinks for females on the same occasion. Heavy alcohol use is binge drinking on 5 or more days in the past month. It is a very common occurrence. In fact, Center for Disease Control and Prevention report approximately 92% of U.S. adults who drink excessively report binge drinking in the past 30 days.
There are some obvious negative effects to binge drinking such as unintentional injuries, alcohol poisoning, sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancy. However, while these events can happen in just one scenario of over consumption, heavy alcohol use can result in high blood pressure, stroke, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, neurological damage, sexual dysfunction and poor control of diabetes.
Here’s the silver lining for those of you who don’t want to put down that wine glass just yet. Alcohol, when consumed in moderation- up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men- can have health benefits. Red wine can increase memory, boost vaccine effects and reduce your risk of a cold by 60% due to its antioxidants. A glass of red or white wine also helps in weight loss. In return, beer has a multitude of vitamins, can strengthen your bones, alleviate menopause symptoms, lower heart attack risks in women, and reduce the risk of kidney stones.
This alcohol awareness month take a moment to think critically about your alcohol consumption habits. If you find yourself binge drinking more than you’d like to admit, or know of someone who does, contact your doctor and learn what the potential health risks mean to you. Having a glass once in awhile is fine, but heavy alcohol use can put your life and the lives of others at risk.