Tag Archives: Binge Drinking

There Is No Healthy Amount of Alcohol

Numerous studies exist on the impact of alcohol on people’s health. The results can seem obvious at times: Drinking large amounts of alcohol can put you at a risk for many health conditions, including, but not limited to:

  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Alcohol addiction

In most research, there is a clear link between excessive drinking and negative health conditions.

On the other hand, many studies over the years have suggested that moderate drinking can help improve your health, as long as it is limited to a certain number of drinks per week. The specific health effects depend on the type of alcohol, such as the potential for drinking a glass of wine once per day to improve heart health.

How Much Alcohol Is Healthy?

While the findings of such studies may seem like great news to the casual drinker, they’re not as beneficial as you may think. A newer study has found that, despite previous research, there is no healthy amount of alcohol.

Recent Study Published in The Lancet Comes to a Different Conclusion

Medical journal The Lancet published a study in August that made waves in regard to global alcohol consumption. English researchers Robyn Burton and Nick Sheron took a closer look at the 2016 Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study (GBD), which gathered data on 195 countries and territories from 1990 to 2016. Burton called the GBD 2016 “the most comprehensive estimate of the global burden of alcohol use to date.”

Results of Burton and Sheron’s Analysis of the GBD 2016

The GBD 2016 had already found that alcohol was the seventh-leading risk factor for death, as well as for disability or shortened lifespan. In those between the ages of 15 and 49 years old, alcohol was the leading risk factor for both death and shortened lifespan in 2016.

According to Burton and Sheron’s report after their analysis of the GBD 2016, “The conclusions of the study are clear and unambiguous: alcohol is a colossal global health issue and small reductions in health-related harms at low levels of alcohol intake are outweighed by the increased risk of other health-related harms, including cancer.”

Based on their findings, they could not support any level of alcohol consumption as being “safe.”

Findings such as these serve as a sobering reminder of the impact alcohol can have on our lives. Even people who drink moderately and responsibly can still be at risk for other health conditions that will be exacerbated by their drinking.

Drinking Increases Risk Development

Alcohol-related health problems do not always develop solely from drinking. Conditions such as heart disease and cancer can emerge due to numerous other genetic and lifestyle causes. However, moderate drinking increases the risk of conditions such as these.

In comparing individuals who don’t drink to those who indulge in daily drinking, there is a 0.5 percent higher chance of those in the latter group developing an alcohol-related health problem. Yes, that’s not too drastic, but this risk, as one would expect, increases the more someone drinks:

  • People who drink two alcoholic drinks in one day have a 7 percent chance of developing an alcohol-related health problem.
  • People who drink five drinks per day on average have a 37 percent increase in risk.

When you start to break down the potential risks for moderate drinkers, there’s hardly a statistical difference in developing health issues between no drinks and very few drinks. However, there is still a risk, which can easily counter the potential benefits someone may hope to gain from moderate drinking.

Daily Drinking: Perceived Benefits vs. Risks

Even if someone does benefit from regular drinking, such as improving the condition of diabetes or increasing antioxidant consumption, alcohol can still simultaneously promote negative results, such as cancer development, as Burton and Sheron’s research found. Drinkers ultimately may come to accept these risks, but they’re not ones that anyone hoping to avoid deadly diseases should take.

The negative health risks exist in tandem with additional risks that alcohol poses in regard to others’ safety and interpersonal relationships. This especially applies to people who drink beyond safe levels and engage in binge drinking on a regular basis.

Heavy Alcohol Consumption and Binge Drinking Levels

While drinking any amount of alcohol can become dangerous, high levels of consumption pose the greatest risk. The precise amount of heavy alcohol consumption can vary depending on a person’s age, body, genetics and other health considerations.

The general standards for at-risk drinking are:

  • More than four servings a day, or more than 14 drinks per week for men.
  • More than three drinks a day, or more than seven drinks per week for women.

About a quarter of people who regularly exceed these limits have an alcohol use disorder. The remaining three-fourths are at much greater risk of developing both an alcohol use disorder and other alcohol-related health problems.

Unfortunately, this level of alcohol consumption is common, and it puts numerous people at risk. The top 10 percent of alcohol drinkers consumes upwards of 74 alcoholic drinks a week – averaging about 10 drinks per day – according to National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) data.

Potential Impact of Alcohol Use on the Body

Both regular drinking and binge drinking can easily lead to numerous health issues, as Burton and Sheron’s research reaffirmed.

Brain Function

The feeling of being drunk comes from the way that alcohol interacts with the brain, decreasing the functioning of neurotransmitters and impacting emotion regulation, cognition and impulse control. Repeated heavy drinking makes the brain used to drinking, potentially leading to symptoms of alcohol withdrawal when one tries to abstain.

Liver

The liver can suffer from inflammation and multiple problems due to heavy drinking, leading to possible problems such as:

  • Steatosis (buildup of fat in the organ)
  • Fibrosis (thickening or scarring of connective tissue)
  • Cirrhosis
  • Alcoholic hepatitis

Cancers

One of the most severe health conditions related to heavy alcohol consumption, cancer is a greater risk the more one drinks. Nearly 3.5 percent of U.S. cancer deaths in 2009 were alcohol related.

Regular heavy drinking can increase the risk of developing one of the following types of cancer:

  • Head
  • Neck
  • Esophageal
  • Liver
  • Breast
  • Colorectal

Heart Disease

Despite the reported heart-health benefits of alcohol, even drinking in small amounts can damage the heart, potentially causing:

  • High blood pressure
  • Arrhythmia (irregular heart beat)
  • Stroke
  • Cardiomyopathy (stretching and drooping of heart muscles)

Pancreatitis

Drinking causes the pancreas to release toxic substances. Heavy and continual drinking then leads to high levels of these substances entering the body. This can cause pancreatitis and prevent proper digestion of food and nutrients.

Immune System

In addition to other specific health issues, heavy drinking can weaken your immune system, providing diseases with an easier entryway into your body. Binge drinking, for example, can potentially weaken your immune system for 24 hours after the last drink.

See More Alcohol Abuse Facts

What This Research Means

The GBD 2016 and the recent study published in The Lancet have provided many insights into the overall impact of alcohol. Long-term health effects of drinking abound, overriding any previous studies that boast of the miniscule benefits of drinking.

Furthermore, these studies should serve as a reminder that regularly drinking isn’t a bona fide way to improve your health, and those who don’t drink shouldn’t start simply to reap some health benefits. The potential risks are much too great to be worth it. We’re not saying don’t drink at all – just that you should be careful.

If you or a loved one is struggling with excessive drinking, Reflections Recovery Center can craft a plan that leads toward long-term sobriety.

Explore Our Inpatient Program for Men

Sources:
https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)31571-X/fulltext
https://medium.com/wintoncentre/the-risks-of-alcohol-again-2ae8cb006a4a
https://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/How-much-is-too-much/Is-your-drinking-pattern-risky/Whats-At-Risk-Or-Heavy-Drinking.aspx
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/09/25/think-you-drink-a-lot-this-chart-will-tell-you/?utm_term=.32b122a51cce
https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/alcohols-effects-body

Signs of Hidden Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol addiction can disrupt a person’s life greatly, but it’s not always easy to tell when a loved one has a problem. Many people struggling with alcohol addiction tend to keep their activities hidden from their friends and family. Why? They either underestimate the extent of their problem or they don’t want others to interfere.

Unfortunately, even obvious symptoms of alcoholism can go unnoticed, particularly if your loved one is a high-functioning alcoholic. However, you can determine if your loved one has a hidden alcohol problem by learning how to look for signs of alcohol abuse. By staying alert, you can help identify a drinking problem and then support your loved one throughout treatment.

Signs of Hidden Alcohol Abuse

We’ve grouped the various signs of alcoholism into five main categories:

High Alcohol Tolerance

Numerous factors can impact someone’s tolerance for alcohol, including weight, age, sex and genetics.

No matter what other factors are in play, though, the more a person drinks, the higher his or her tolerance will be. Thus, the more drinks it will take to become intoxicated. Repeated drinking episodes can lead to very little functional impairment, even after consuming large amounts of alcohol.

To tell if your loved one has a high tolerance for alcohol, watch their behaviors after drinking. As an example, a 155-pound male will take about three drinks to become “tipsy.” If he don’t show any signs of intoxication at that point, then he may have a high level of alcohol tolerance.

Experiencing Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Repeated drinking does more than build an alcohol tolerance in the body; it also impacts people physically and mentally. The body starts to adjust so that drinking becomes the norm, which means not having a drink can cause withdrawal symptoms.

For alcohol, common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Shaky hands
  • Insomnia

While symptoms of alcohol dependence don’t always indicate alcoholism, the impact of withdrawal can play a major role in forming alcohol abuse and addiction. If your loved one starts to exhibit physical signs of alcohol abuse in the form of withdrawal after not drinking for some time, then he or she may have a hidden alcohol problem.

Secret Drinking

Hidden Drinking Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms - Reflections Recovery CenterBecause people struggling with alcoholism have a higher tolerance for alcohol, they often need to drink more to feel intoxicated. This can lead to behaviors where someone may drink alone or while getting ready to go out to a social event with friends; the latter is known as “pregaming.” Secret drinking can also involve drinking after coming home from events.

To facilitate this type of drinking, people with hidden alcoholism will sometimes have hiding places for alcohol:

  • Bathroom shelves, dresser drawers, the garage, and behind other items in kitchen cabinets are common places to covertly store alcohol.
  • Furniture can also be a place to stow empty bottles and cans.

If you have concerns about hidden alcoholism, you can search those places. You may also check the outside trash bins, as your loved one may be taking out empty bottles and cans directly to the main trash when nobody’s looking.

Making Excuses to Drink

To make their drinking behavior seem less like a problem, people struggling with alcohol addiction will often make up reasons to drink:

  • If something bad happens, they will use alcohol to make themselves feel better.
  • If something good happens, then what better way to celebrate than with a drink?

These “reasons” become protection if you or someone else tries to point out your loved one’s drinking behavior.

Additionally, people struggling with alcoholism will make excuses for why they can’t or won’t stop drinking:

  • Some will say that they can stop whenever they feel like it. (They can’t.)
  • Others will argue that their drinking only impacts themselves. (It doesn’t.)
  • There’s also a chance that they will agree to get help, then come up with excuses to keep putting it off.

Unexplained Injuries

Episodes of binge drinking can lead to falling and blackouts – both of which can easily cause injuries. The lack of bodily control after heavy drinking can contribute.

The potential damages can range from minor cuts and bruises to larger traumatic injuries; but, one scenario will often serve as a telltale sign of hidden alcoholism: The person doesn’t want to admit what caused the problem.

Those struggling with alcoholism will often feel too embarrassed to admit what really led to their injuries, so they’ll brush the problem off without answering. Or, if pressed, they may make up a story about what happened.

If your loved one has suspicious or repeated injuries and won’t give you a clear answer as to how these wounds occurred, alcohol may have contributed.

Helping a Loved One with Hidden Alcoholism

Living with someone who has an alcohol addiction can be a challenging experience. Your loved one may experience mood swings and ignore responsibilities in favor of drinking. He or she may look to you to encourage the behavior or actively start to tear down various relationships when drinking.

The key is to remember that you cannot control your loved one’s behavior and that the situation is not your fault. You do not need to enable the addiction or accept poor treatment from them.

However, it’s possible to learn how to help an alcoholic. Once you’ve identified that your loved one may have a hidden alcohol problem, you can plan appropriately. Enlist the support of your friends and family, and possibly an intervention specialist. You should also care for your own personal needs throughout the process, so that you are in the right state of mind to fully help your loved one.

From Alcoholism Intervention to Rehab

Before staging an intervention, you and the intervention team should carefully plan and rehearse what will happen. Prepare possible treatment options, so that your loved one can’t stall the admission process. Once you’ve completed the intervention successfully and your loved one begins receiving treatment, remain supportive and participate where possible. The encouragement of friends and family can make or break a recovery from alcohol addiction.

At Reflections Recovery Center, we provide the highest quality of care for our male clients, every step of the way. Explore our men’s alcohol rehab programs, or get in touch with us to discuss how we can help your son, husband, brother, etc. overcome his drinking behavior.

See More Alcohol Addiction Facts

Sources:
https://www.beachhouserehabcenter.com/learning-center/5-signs-your-loved-one-is-masking-a-drinking-problem/
https://www.briarwooddetox.com/blog/8-signs-your-loved-one-is-alcoholic/
https://www.new-hope-recovery.com/2013/10/14-warning-signs-of-a-secret-alcoholic/
https://www.evergreendrugrehab.com/blog/obvious-alcoholic-drinking-behaviors-hard-ignore/
https://casapalmera.com/blog/living-with-an-alcoholic/
https://americanaddictioncenters.org/alcoholism-treatment/how-to-talk/
https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/loved-one-drinking-what-to-do#2

The Dangers of Drinking Alcohol in the Arizona Summer Heat

Arizona is experiencing some of the hottest days of the summer, with temperatures regularly in the 110-120 degree range. While the dangers of extreme heat are well known, what many people don’t realize is that drinking alcohol in the extreme heat is dangerous and can even be deadly.

Here’s what Arizona residents and vacationers alike should know in order to proceed with caution while enjoying some fun in the sun.

Alcohol and Heat

Drinking alcohol – even without the summer sun – can affect your coordination, balance, and judgment. When you are exposed to the sun, these effects are exacerbated. Spending too much time in the sun and heat can also make you dehydrated, heightening your body’s response to the alcohol. 

The most common activities people participate in during summer months are swimming, boating, attending sports functions, or hanging out on the beach. Excessive alcohol abuse in these situations can affect your judgment on things like:

  • How far you can swim
  • The temperature of the water
  • If you can safely operate a motor vehicle (boat, jet ski, etc.)

Drinking and driving is just as unsafe on the water as it is on the road, yet people tend to take it less seriously because they’re driving just for fun. No one should ever operate a vehicle of any kind while under the influence.

Heat Illness and Symptoms

Alcohol Consumption Dehydration Heat Exposure - Reflections Recovery

Drinking alcohol in the heat can also result in illness. The Arizona sun can cause dehydration. Couple that with drinking alcohol, a diuretic, rather than water, and that dehydration can be compounded to dangerous levels. Since your blood vessels will be dilated from the heat and alcohol, you are more likely to pass out.

The most common first symptom is heat cramps. As soon as you experience cramps, get out of the heat and start drinking water. More extreme symptoms include passing out due to heat exhaustion and dehydration.

The most serious symptom is heatstroke. Heatstroke can lead to organ failure, shock, or death.

Arizona Outdoor Activities

Arizona is known for its fun and exciting outdoor activities. One of the most common is Salt River tubing. Unfortunately, this activity is infamous for its alcohol poisonings, drownings, alcohol-related deaths and heat emergencies. Emergency responders state that the cold water tricks riders into thinking they are doing fine. In reality, the heat and alcohol is having a lethal effect.

Some other common activities in Arizona to watch out for are golfing, swimming, hiking and boating. There are a lot of fun activities and beautiful sights, but, no matter how you are enjoying Arizona, be mindful of the temperature and stay hydrated. If you drink alcohol, limit the amount you drink outside, or better yet, choose non-alcoholic beverages instead.

Arizona Weather Precautions

Roughly 2,000 people visit the emergency room each year due to heat related illness, so it is important to be careful when spending time outdoors. Since Arizona experiences such extreme heat from May to September, the Department of Health Services has created extreme weather precautions. Here are some to consider:

Drink Water

Our bodies are constantly trying to keep us cool in the heat, causing us to become dehydrated. If you will be enjoying some time outdoors, you should be drinking one to two liters of water per hour.

Dress Appropriately

If you will be outside, wear lightweight clothing. Try and choose breathable materials that are light or reflective colors. Wear a hat to protect your face and always apply sunscreen.

Take Breaks

Make sure to take lots of breaks if you are working outdoors or doing strenuous activity. Your body will lose more water if you are constantly pushing yourself.

Eat Small Meals

Eat small meals that are high in protein. This will give your body the energy it needs throughout the day to burn. Avoid high fat foods that can make your body work harder than it already is.

High Country Is Not out of the Woods

While areas like Prescott, Flagstaff, Sedona and the Grand Canyon might not be quite as hot as other parts of Arizona, they still experience extreme temperatures. Always be cautious when you plan to play outside, no matter what part of the state you are enjoying.

Take Precautions and Be Careful

If you’re willing to brave the Arizona summer heat and pursue some outdoor fun, plan ahead and take extra precautions to protect yourself and your loved ones from the combined dangers of heat and alcohol consumption.

Don’t be fooled by cool water you are swimming in or assume you’re feeling fine. Drink in moderation and consume water between alcoholic drinks. If possible, pass on the alcohol entirely and enjoy the sights without it.

If someone in your party has been to rehab for alcohol addiction, please be sensitive and make it an alcohol-free outing. Not only will this help your friend stay sober and avoid temptation, it will provide a healthier situation for you too, given the risks of drinking in the heat.

How Do I Tell the Difference Between Binge Drinking and Alcohol Addiction?

View Our Alcohol Facts Resource Page