Understanding the Dangers of Alcohol Abuse
April is Alcohol Awareness Month, a time to reflect on the real dangers of excessive alcohol consumption.
At Prestige ER our goal this month is to create awareness about the real dangers of alcohol abuse while focusing on prevention in the hopes that we can help decrease the more than 88,000 alcohol-related deaths, the third leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States.
Alcohol Use Disorder
According to the National Institute or Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 15.1 million adults aged 18 and over have Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)
AUD refers to an individual’s problem controlling their drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, inability to stop drinking despite being aware of the problems this causes, developing an alcohol tolerance where they need to drink more to get the same effect, and experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
Unfortunately, out of the 15.1 million people with alcohol use disorder only less than 7% received treatment in the past year.
But, what is most alarming is that an estimated 623,000 adolescents aged 12-17 have been diagnosed with AUD, and only 5.2% received treatment in the last year.
Signs of Alcohol Abuse
Recognizing the signs of a problem can help save someone’s life, if you suspect someone you love is struggling with alcohol abuse disorder, look for the following warning signs:
- Problems at work or school, excessive drinking causes behavioral changes, moodiness, or being caught drinking during work or school hours are signs of alcohol abuse.
- Engaging in dangerous activities, like driving under the influence.
- Blacking out, when there is too much alcohol in the bloodstream a person can blackout and not remember what happened while they were drinking.
- Continuing to drink despite having health problems that are aggravated by drinking
What are the Dangers of Alcohol Abuse
Moderate alcohol consumption has been proven to be beneficial for your health, but, when we drink too much in too short a span or drink excessively on a regular basis, then these health benefits vanish, and are instead replaced with an increased risk of:
Alcohol has been linked to:
- 60% of fatal burn injuries, drownings, and homicides
- 50% of sexual assaults and severe trauma injuries
- 40% of fatal car crashes
Chronic and Potentially Life-threatening Illnesses
People with AUD have a higher risk of developing:
- Liver Disease, Cirrhosis
- Certain types of cancer including liver cancer, breast cancer, cancer of the mouth, larynx, and esophagus
- Heart Disease
- Sleep Disorders
- Stomach Bleeding
- Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD)
Researchers have not been able to determine if any amount of alcohol is safe for a developing baby, but they have established a link between alcohol abuse and brain damage and other serious problems in unborn babies.
For this reason, any woman who is pregnant or is planning to become pregnant should not drink any alcohol.
Small lifestyle changes can make help you reduce the chances of developing a drinking problem:
- Keep Track: Whether you are drinking at home or you are out with friends, always keep track of how many drinks you have had. A good way of doing this is to make either on your phone or a piece of paper of each drink you order and keep this, so you can track how many drinks you have had during the week or month.
- Measure: Measure the amount of alcohol you put into your drinks when at home, this can be a little more difficult when you are in a restaurant or bar but ask the bartender what their standard measurement is. If you are drinking wine, make sure your glass is empty before you pour more wine into it.
- Pace Yourself: Keep in mind that your liver can process one drink per hour, this means you should not have more than one standard drink per hour to avoid becoming intoxicated.
- Make Sure to Eat: Never drink on an empty stomach, eat some food so the alcohol will be absorbed into your system more slowly.
When to Visit Prestige ER
Alcohol poisoning is a serious condition and can lead to death if not treated, seek immediate medical attention if you or someone you know has any of these symptoms:
- Confusion or disorientation
- Cold or clammy skin
- Difficulty walking or standing
- Irregular pulse
- Depressed breathing
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Bluish skin especially around the lips or under the fingernails
If you or a loved one is struggling with AUD call the Texas Alcohol Abuse Hotline 1-800-252-6465.
HealthCare.gov recommends that in case of an emergency, you head straight to the closest ER.
You DO NOT need to get prior approval from your health insurance company.
They will cover expenses barring whatever your deductible and coinsurance/copayments are for emergency treatments.
Prestige ER is open and ready to care for you during an emergency in which your health is significantly jeapordized 24/7, we work with all major insurance companies and our Patient Advocate team is available to help you understand your coverage and rights. We will guide and fight for you every step of the way.
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