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Published on April 16, 2019

variety of alcoholic drinks in glasses

#TryItTuesday: Be More Aware of Risks of Alcohol Use

In 1987, Alcohol Awareness Month was established to help reduce the stigma so often associated with alcohol addiction. Alcohol addiction is a chronic, progressive disease, genetically predisposed and fatal if untreated. However, people can and do recover.

In fact, it is estimated that as many as 20 million individuals and family members are living lives in recovery from alcohol use!

An integral part of Alcohol Awareness Month is to raise awareness about the use of alcohol and how it may be affecting our lives and communities.

What's a "standard" drink?

Many people are surprised to learn what counts as a “standard” drink. In the United States, a standard drink is any drink that contains about 0.6 fluid ounces or 14 grams of pure alcohol (also known as an alcoholic drink-equivalent).

Although of different sizes, each of the standard drinks listed below contains approximately the same amount of alcohol:

  • 12 ounces of regular beer
  • 8-9 ounces of malt liquor
  • 5 ounces of table wine
  • 3-4 ounces of fortified wine (sherry or port)
  • 2-3 ounces of cordial, liqueur or aperitif
  • 1.5 ounce of brandy or cognac
  • 1.5 ounce shot of 80-proof distilled spirits

What are the risks of drinking?

Injuries. Drinking too much increases your chances of being injured or even killed. Alcohol is a factor, for example, in about 60 percent of fatal burn injuries, drownings and homicides; 50 percent of severe trauma injuries and sexual assaults; and 40 percent of fatal motor vehicle crashes, suicides and fatal falls.

Health problems. Drinking can cause a number of health problems. Studies have shown that one drink a day increases the risk of breast cancer in women. Research has also shown that people who drink excessively have a greater risk of liver disease, heart disease, depression, stroke and stomach bleeding, as well as cancers of the oral cavity, esophagus, larynx, pharynx, liver, colon and rectum. They may also have problems managing conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, pain and sleep disorders.

Birth defects. Drinking during pregnancy can cause brain damage and other serious problems in the baby. Because it is not yet known whether any amount of alcohol is safe for a developing baby, women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should not drink.

Alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorder is a medical condition that doctors can diagnose when a patient's drinking causes distress or harm. In the United States, about 17 million people have alcohol use disorder.

Beyond these physical and mental health risks, frequent heavy drinking also is linked with personal problems, including losing a driver's license and having relationship troubles.

The Good News 

We can all take steps to help prevent alcohol misuse or abuse. Spread the word about strategies for preventing alcohol misuse or abuse and encourage communities, families and individuals to get involved.

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