Last month was Alcohol Awareness month and the theme was, “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow.” This grassroots effort was founded many years ago to help educate both young and old people about the dangers of alcohol use. Throughout the month of April, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) offered free assessments and education seminars on the subject of alcoholism.
It is estimated that more than 40 million American adults drink alcohol regularly which is 10 million more than the entire population of Canada. The latest data from the NCADD indicates that alcoholism affects nearly 18 million Americans or close to one in every 12 adults. These numbers are a gross underestimate and there are countless millions who regularly engage in binge drinking who have not yet received (or sought out) medical attention. At present, nearly 50 percent of all American adults have a family history of alcoholism and more than 8 million children reside in a home where at least one parent abuses or is dependent on alcohol.
What are the warning signs of alcohol abuse?
• Repeated unsuccessful attempt to stop drinking
• Drinking alcohol to forget about problems or relieve the anxiety
• Having guilty feelings after having consumed alcohol
• Consistently lying about drinking habits
• Going to great lengths to hide the drinking habit
• Have caused harm to someone else as a result of drinking
• The need to drink escalating amounts of alcohol to feel better about one’s self
• Becoming irritable and moody when not drinking or when alcohol is not available
• Have developed medical problems as a result of alcohol
• Have run into legal problems related to alcohol
Over the past two decades, the numbers of alcoholics in the country have steadily increased. So what does all this mean? Perhaps not so surprisingly, at least six Americans die every day and close to 100,000 Americans die every year as a result of an alcohol-related problem. Of these deaths, close to 30 percent are attributed to drunk driving. And alcoholism has repercussions way beyond the alcoholic individual; it is associated with marital problems, domestic abuse, legal problems, liver disease, difficulty with work, disability, increased healthcare costs and premature death.
It is for these reasons, that the NCADD has established April as Alcohol Awareness month for the past 4 decades paired with the theme “Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow.” The key aim is to educate young people about the ramifications of alcohol, its causes, treatment and recovery. The public needs to know that alcoholism can be prevented.
So should one not drink alcohol at all?
The NCADD recommends that one should participate in responsible drinking and know when to stop. Regular consumption of alcohol not only damages the liver and the brain, but the healthcare costs to manage these complications are enormous. In general, one should not consume more than 3-4 drinks per week. The medical benefits of alcohol have been over-hyped by the alcoholic industry. Alcohol may slightly drop your cholesterol levels, but this effect can be obtained by walking for 30 minutes every day-which is cheaper, safer and healthier than drinking alcohol and leads to a much better quality of life.
Additionally, alcohol is certainly not calorie free. A 12-ounce glass of beer has about 150 calories, a 5-ounce glass of red wine has about 125 calories, and a 1.5 ounce shot of gin, rum, vodka, whiskey or tequila has about 100 calories, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Additionally, in a new study published in the Journal of Health Psychology, researchers suggest that alcohol impairs inhibitory control, which leads people to eat more which will not benefit any weight loss efforts.
If you drink regularly, become more aware of the amount and frequency of your drinking starting this month. Reduce your intake by finding other ways to deal with stress and anxiety that contribute to your health like taking a walk, or begin a new habit of meditation, yoga or a new stretch routine. Your wallet (and your waistline!) will thank you for it.
Editor’s note: Kim Farmer of Mile High Fitness & Wellness offers in-home personal training and corporate fitness solutions. For more information, visit www.milehighfitness.com or email email@example.com