Alcohol Awareness. When Does Alcohol Abuse Become Alcoholism?

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1 Alcohol Awareness When Does Alcohol Abuse Become Alcoholism? Heavy drinkers may appear to function day to day yet still be putting themselves and others at risk. Learn how to recognize problem drinking. You might know someone like Terry. She has a good job and always makes time for her family and friends. She even does volunteer work at her children s school. In short, she s a really great person. Terry also abuses alcohol. It s not easy to pinpoint the moment when someone starts having a problem with alcohol. Instead of clear lines, there are shades of gray between social drinking, alcohol abuse and alcoholism. For some people, abuse begins before they or their family know it s happening. In Terry s case, one glass of wine after dinner turned into four. To keep her family from worrying, she hid the empty wine bottles. Covert behavior like this is one sign that someone has a drinking problem. Knowing your limits For men, experts define heavy drinking as more than two drinks per day on a regular basis. For women, it s an average of more than on drink per day. But it may still be hard to tell when drinking has become a problem. Drinking is common in our culture, and some people do it without harmful effects. For others, drinking escalates until they lose their health and put themselves and others in danger. The reasons for these differences are complex. People with a family history of alcoholism are more likely to have an addiction problems. So are those who face depression or some other mental illnesses. Your upbringing and social environment may also make a difference. Losing control Alcohol abuse on a small scale can lead to fullblown alcoholism. People who continue to abuse alcohol often find they have to drink more to get the same effect. This warning sign of alcoholism is called intolerance. In time you may need a drink to feel normal. These signs add up to dependence a hallmark of alcoholism. Its best to uncover problems before they get that far. Your drinking may be putting you at risk for alcoholism if:

2 Alcohol Awareness When Does Alcohol Abuse Become Alcoholism? (continued) You know alcohol is damaging your relationships and your health, but you drink anyway. You repeatedly neglect important work and family functions for example, missing your kids events or deadlines at work. You have legal troubles, such as getting arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) or being drunk and disorderly. Getting help The effects of alcoholism can be devastating. Heavy drinkers are more likely to have heart disease, liver disease, depression and several types of cancer. Family and work relationships usually suffer. And of course, drinking too much alcohol on even on occasion can lead to injuries or death from a car crash, drowning or other type of accident. When Terry s family realized she was losing control of her drinking, they persuaded her to get help. Your doctor is a good place to start finding the counseling or treatment you need. You can also contact the National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service at HELP (4357). Helping Kids Say No to Drugs and Alcohol Believe it or not, your kids listen when you tell them about the hazards of substance abuse. Learn to talk to them about the dangers. Teens have a way of making their parents feel pretty useless at times. But whether you know it or not, you are the biggest influence in your children s lives when it comes to drugs and alcohol. About 2 out of 3 kids ages 13 to 17 say that one of the main reasons they don t do drugs is that their parents would be disappointed in them. Here are some ways you can help your kids avoid tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs:. Know their friends Teens are usually offered drugs by friends. Get to know your children s friends and their parents. Ask where your kids are going when they leave the house, who they ll be with, and what they ll be doing. Let them know you ll be checking on them.

3 Helping Kids Say No to Drugs and Alcohol (continued) Be involved. The danger zone for drug use is between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. So try to be there when your children get home from school. If you can t be there, call. Get them involved in supervised after-school and summer activities. Bored kids are more likely than others to get in trouble. Talk to your kids about drugs. Tell them often that you don t ever want them to use tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs. Listen, too. If you re a good listener, your child is more likely to talk to you about drugs. Establish rules. Set a curfew and enforce it. Let your kids know what the consequences will be if they drink or do drugs. Reward good behavior. Be a good role model. Kids learn a lot by watching their parents. If you have a substance abuse problem, get help so you can set a good example for your children. Teach your kids how to handle peer pressure. One strategy kids can use to stay clear of drugs and alcohol is REAL: Refuse, Explain, Avoid, Leave. Refuse. A simple no often works. Explain. A teen might say, I can t risk getting kicked off the team or Smoking makes me sick. Be firm but polite. Avoid. Teens can decide to stay away from parties where drugs are likely to be used. Leave. If teens are feeling pressured, they can learn to just walk away. Or they can suggest another activity, such as playing a sport or going to a movie

4 How Genetics Can Influence Your Risk of Drug and Alcohol Addition Your family history offers important insight into your risk of becoming addicted to alcohol and other drugs. It s easy to think about inheriting the positive traits of your relatives. After all, who wouldn t want the gene that gave Mom her perfect smile or Uncle Mike his all-star skills on the basketball court? But what if your dad or his dad lived much of his life with an alcohol problem? Evidence shows there is a link between genes and substance abuse. In fact, an estimated 40 percent to 60 percent of what makes a person vulnerable to addiction is linked to genetics. You might be worried that genes linked to alcoholism may have been passed on to you. But keep in mind there are ways you can reduce your risk. What s the connection? When it comes to alcohol, research has found that some genes affect both how much people consume and their risk of becoming dependent on it. Other genes affect dependence alone. Statistically, children of alcoholics are about four times more likely than the general population to have an alcohol problem in their lifetime. These numbers might suggest that your fate is set if there s a history of drug or alcohol issues in your family. But it isn t. No single factor including your genetic makeup determines your risk of addiction. Many things come into play, and they often interact. In general, the more risk factors you have, the greater the danger. Some of these factors include: Mental health. Disorders such as depression raise your risk. Environmental factors. Risk goes up when you re around others who have substance abuse problems. The lifestyles of your parents and other family members are a strong influence. Age at first use. The earlier you start using drugs or alcohol, the greater your risk of becoming addicted to them. Method of administration. Smoking a drug or injecting it raises the odds that you ll get hooked. Protect yourself Discourage underage use. Alcohol use by minors and the use of illicit drugs (by anyone) are illegal and should be avoided. Talk with your kids about the risks. Be a good role model.

5 Counting Calories in Alcoholic Beverages If you re counting calories, think before taking that next drink. It could have more calories than your favorite dessert. A cocktail before dinner or a glass or two of wine with the meal is so common that some people don t even give it a second thought. But if you re trying to watch calories, here is something to think about before you take that next alcoholic drink. This may be news to some, but alcohol has a lot of calories, often more than the dessert you turn down. To boot, having a drink or two before or with a meal may actually stimulate you to eat more and take in more calories. Researchers speculate that alcohol increases the pleasure of eating. While under the influence, it s also more likely that you will lose your inhibitions and indulge in foods that are less nutritious. Without a doubt, the calories in your alcoholic drink can affect your waistline just as the alcohol can affect your mental functioning and physical health. But you can enjoy small amounts of alcohol and still maintain and even lose weight. The key? Arm yourself with calorie facts and follow the tips below. How many calories are you drinking? Weight gain, loss or maintenance depends on how many calories you take in. Most people are completely unaware of how many calories are in certain drinks. It s easy to go overboard without realizing it. The calorie amounts listed here are for an average size drink. Many drinks may have even more, depending on how big the tumbler, glass or beer mug is. Here are two more things to keep in mind about alcohol: Alcohol can cause dehydration. Make sure to drink plenty of water when you have alcohol. Drink Amount Calories Beer (regular) 12 oz. 150 Beer (light) 12 oz. 100 Daiquiri 10 oz. 300 Eggnog 8 oz. 350 Kahlua 1.5 oz. 140 Long Island Iced Tea 10 oz. 580 Martini 6 oz. 280 Margarita 8 oz. 420 Pina colada 10 oz. 550 Screwdriver 8 oz. 190 Shot of liquor (gin, rum, vodka, whiskey) 1.5 oz. 100 Whiskey sour 8 oz. 375 White Russian 8 oz. 500 Wine (red or white) 6 oz. 120 Alcohol doesn t fill you up. Alcohol contains calories but doesn t typically make you full. This still leaves plenty of room for other indulgences. Source: United Healthcare Accessed July 29, 2013

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