Ask an MD2B: Recognizing and Preventing Alcohol Abuse

Greetings Miami Gardens, Masses of people visit South Florida to enjoy their spring and summer vacations on our warm, sunny beaches. However, these festivities may be associated with excessive indulgence in alcohol and reminds us of the health effects of alcohol abuse.

Alcohol has long been part of American culture, and it can be enjoyed safely as long as people drink in moderation. Men should have no more than four drinks on any single day and no more than 14 drinks per week. Meanwhile, women should have no more than three drinks on any single day and no more than seven drinks per week. To be clear, a drink is defined as a 12-ounce beer, 8-ounce malt, 5-ounce wine, or a 1.5-ounce shot of 80 proof liquor.

Greater consumption of alcohol leads to alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse is defined as drinking to the point of harming one’s health, relationships, or productivity. Alcohol abuse may interfere with a person’s life at work, school, home, or on the road. Oftentimes, alcohol abuse reaches the point of alcoholism, or addiction to alcohol. Despite the negative consequences of their alcohol abuse, individuals suffering from alcoholism continue their drinking habits.

In order to ensure safety while drinking, certain precautions should be taken. For instance, when a person drinks enough alcohol to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08%, his/her motor coordination and judgment is considerably impaired. For this reason, it is illegal to operate a vehicle beyond this level. Tragically, the number one killer of children 1-15 years old is accidents, many of which involve death due to an intoxicated driver. So, if you attend a party and you plan to drink, arrange for a designated driver in advance!

Beyond driving hazards, excessive drinking is directly linked to a higher risk for cancer, stroke, and liver disease. In fact, people who drink very heavily (enough to raise their BAC to 0.4%) have a very high risk for death. Furthermore, though both smoking and alcohol independently increase one’s risk of cancer, smoking while abusing alcohol raises the risk of cancer even further. People who smoke and abuse alcohol are five times more likely to get cancer than people who smoke and do not abuse alcohol. Finally, all pregnant women should avoid alcohol because even a single drink can cause permanent harm to an unborn child

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