South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS)
Alcohol Awareness Month
April is Alcohol Awareness Month! According to the CDC, there are approximately 79,000 deaths attributed to excessive alcohol use each year in the United States. Hence "excessive alcohol" is the 3rd leading behavior-related cause of death in the U.S. The economic costs are high as well, estimated at over $223 billion annually, mostly due to lost workplace productivity, health care expenses, criminal justice, and motor vehicle crashes.
Excessive alcohol use immediately increases the risk of many harmful health conditions, including unintentional injuries (traffice injuries, falls, drowning, burns, and unintentional firearm injuries), violence to partner or children, risky sexual behavior (unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners, and increased risk of sexual assault) as well as alcohol poisoning, which can cause such symptoms as loss of consciousness, low blood pressure, low body temperature, coma, respiratory depression, or death.
If you choose to drink alcohol, drink in moderation (women, no more than 1 drink per day; men, no more than 2 drinks per day). Avoid "binge" drinking. One drink is 12 oz. of regular beer OR 8-9 oz. of malt liquor OR 5 oz. of table wine OR 1.5 oz of 80-proof hard liquor. Binge drinking means having more than 3 drinks on one occasion for women and adults over 65 or more than 4 drinks on one occasion for men.
You should also be conscious of mixing energy drinks with alcohol. Energy drinks are beverages which have added caffeine, plant-based stimulants, or other additives. The caffeine in these drinks can mask the depressant effects of the alcohol, causing the consumer to not be as aware of the effects of the alcohol on their judgement and abilities. Individuals who drink the energy drink/alcohol combination are three times as likely to overdrink (binge). They are about twice as likely to experience the health risk effects caused by poor judgement and limited abilities than those who do not drink the energy drink/alcohol combination.
So, bottom line: if you are going to drink, be well informed and be smart. For more information on limiting alcohol and making smart drinking choices, visit the following websites: CDC and VA Prevention