Image by Anders Jildén

APRIL 2021

Alcohol Awareness Month

April is National Alcohol Awareness Month. Alcohol is the third-leading preventable cause of death in the United States. An estimated 95,000 people die from alcohol-related causes a year. 6% of the U.S. population has an alcohol use disorder (alcoholism) and 50% of liver disease is caused by alcohol use. 

 

Sales of alcohol increased by 65% in March 2020 with continued increase like the 16% in August. Online alcohol sales increased by 307%. This means an already dangerous reality of alcohol use and alcohol use disorders in our nation has most likely increased too. This puts people more at risk for COVID-19. Alcohol use:

  • Decreases immune function increasing chance of contracting COVID-19

  • Decreases inhibition leading to fewer precautions (social distancing, mask-wearing, etc.)

  • Increases chance of a more severe COVID-19 reaction due to effect of alcohol use on lungs

Many people don’t know what counts as a standard drink. Beer is 12 fl oz, wine is 5 fl oz, and distilled spirits are 1.5 fl oz. Learn more about standard drinks here. Moderate drinking is 1 drink per day for women of legal drinking age and 2 drinks per day for men of legal drinking age. Moderate drinking can still be too much if you are taking certain medications, managing a medical condition, underage, driving a vehicle, pregnant, or recovering from an alcohol use disorder.

Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that brings the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 percent or higher. This usually is 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men. 

 

Heavy alcohol use is defined as more than 4 drinks on any day for men or more than 3 drinks for women. Binge drinking and heavy alcohol use are both considered drinking excessively. It can increase your risk of harmful consequences such as:

 

  • Increasing your chances of being injured or even killed

  • Increasing your risk in over 200 diseases including liver disease, cardiovascular disease, depression, stomach bleeding, many types of cancers, and more. 

  • Prenatal alcohol exposure can lead to brain damage and other serious problems for a baby.

  • Alcohol use disorder

Alcohol use disorder is when drinking interrupts your daily life. Mild symptoms can start early which you might not see as trouble signs. It helps to know the signs so you can make a change early. If heavy drinking continues, symptoms can grow and become alcohol use disorder. 

 

Symptoms include drinking more than you intended, wanting to cut back or stop but couldn’t, been hurt or hurt others due to drinking, continued to drink even when it made you feel anxious or depressed, having a memory blackout, found drinking interfered with your family or job/school, or cut back/gave up activities important to you in order to drink. 

 

Take a free screening for alcohol use at screening.mentalhealthscreening.org/mhrsb

 

If you need help or resources, call the 24/7 Hopeline at 1-800-567-4673. If you need immediate help, visit the We Care Regional Crisis Center at 797 S Main St, Lima, OH 45804 or call 911.

If you are in crisis call 1-800-567-HOPE (4673) or text 741 741.