April 17, 2018

Alcohol Answers – Sobering Information about Drinking and a Healthy Lifestyle

Fatal if untreated, alcoholism is a chronic, progressive disease to which many Americans are genetically predisposed. Each April for the past 30 years, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) has campaigned to illuminate alcoholism, its causes, effects and treatments during National Alcohol Awareness Month. Here’s what you need to know:

How much alcohol is allowable as part of a healthy diet?

“The current recommendations are up to one drink a day for women of all ages, up to one drink a day for men 65 and older, and up to two drinks per day for men 65 years old and younger,” said Steve North, MD, MPH, family and adolescent medicine specialist with Mission Community Primary Care – Spruce Pine.

How does alcohol consumption affect patients with diabetes or prediabetes?

As a form of sugar, alcohol directly impacts the development of diabetes, said Dr. North.

Is there a connection between alcohol and major health issues?

Chronic alcoholism can impact all aspects of a person’s health. It can result in hypertension, which can lead to a decrease in kidney functioning. “Recent studies show that even moderate alcohol use may increase the patient’s overall risk of cancer,” said Dr. North.

Is it okay to drink alcohol during pregnancy?

“I feel that the best answer is that no alcohol consumption is the goal for all of pregnancy,” said Dr. North. “The highest risk to the fetus from alcohol comes in the first trimester when women often do not realize that they’re pregnant.”

Is drinking and driving still a significant problem?

Yes, on average two in three people will be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

What is considered “heavy drinking”?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heavy drinking is 15 or more drinks per week for men and eight or more drinks per week for women. Binge drinking is considered to be four or more drinks during a single occasion for women, and five or more drinks for men.

Where can I get help?

If you or a loved one needs treatment or other alcohol and drug services, contact:

  • National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence: (800) NCA-CALL (622-2255)
  • Alcoholics Anonymous: AA.org

Steve North, MD, MPH, is a family and adolescent medicine specialist with Mission Community Primary Care – Spruce Pine. (828) 766-3555

To find a Mission primary care provider who’s best for you, call (828) 213-3222 or request an appointment at missionhealth.org/bestlife.

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