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April is Alcohol Awareness Month

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April is dedicated to alcohol awareness in hopes to educate and raise awareness of the health and social problems that excessive drinking can cause for individuals, families, and their communities.

This is a month dedicated to bringing awareness to alcohol abuse of all kinds.  Even if you don’t know it, binge drinking is a form of alcohol abuse.  By drinking four or more glasses of alcohol in an hour, you are increasing your chances of getting alcohol poisoning.  This dangerous behavior can lead to many health and social problems for people, especially women, particularly if they are pregnant or may become pregnant.

Learning the Facts

Content provided by the CDC.gov

What is binge drinking?

Binge drinking is defined as consuming four or more drinks per occasion for women, and five or more drinks per occasion for men.

  • Binge drinking contributes to nearly 11,500 deaths among women in the U.S. per year and approximately 32 deaths per day.
  • In a 2009 study, it was reported that nearly 1 in 10 women admitted to binge drinking within the past 30 days.
  • On average, women who binge drink admit to partaking in risky behavior at least three times per month.
  • Among women binge drinkers, they admit to consuming, on average at least six drinks per drinking occasion, which exceeds the threshold of binge drinking.
  • Binge drinking usually leads to impairment, which makes some women more vulnerable to experiencing alcohol-related harm, particularly if they are pregnant or may become pregnant.
  • Binge drinking increases women’s risk of breast cancer, heart disease, and stroke, all of which are leading causes of death in women.

Why Binge Drinking Hits Women so Hard…

While it is not good that either gender consumes more than four to five drinks per outing, women seem to feel the after affects much more than their male counterparts but the question is…why?

  • Women tend to absorb more alcohol when they drink, and it takes them longer to break it down and remove it from their bodies.
    • This is due to the difference and males/females body compositions and chemistry.
    • When men and women drink the same amount of alcohol, women tend to have higher levels of alcohol in their blood stream, leading them to feel intoxicated quicker and the alcohol will stay in their systems longer.
    • Women who use some form of birth control will feel impaired a lot faster than those who do not.

Other Risk Factors of Binge Drinking

  • Increased risk for sexual assault
    • Research shows young college women to be at high risk of sex assault or even rape.
    • In studies conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)have found that nearly 50 percent of college women have been sexually assaulted and 27 percent have been victims of rape or attempted rape.
      • At least one-half of all violent crimes involved alcohol by the perpetrator, the victim, or both.
      • Risk of HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD’s)
        • According to the CDC, women who binge drink are more likely to participate in unprotected sex and have multiple partners, which increases their risk of getting HIV or other sexually transmitted infections (STI’s).
        • Risk of being pregnant or becoming pregnant
          • Women should not drink alcohol if they are planning to become pregnant or do not use an effective method of birth control.
            • In 2001, about one-half of pregnancies were unplanned.
  • NEVER drink alcohol if you are pregnant.  There is no safe time or no safe alcohol during pregnancy.
    • Surveys show 6 out of 10 women of child bearing age (18-44) use alcohol, and nearly one-third binge drink.
    • Drinking alcohol while pregnant increase your baby’s chance of having fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD’s).
    • Increased risk of developing a chronic disease
      • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states women are more apt to develop long-term health effects due to alcohol consumption.  Such as;
        • Cancer
        • Liver disease
        • Heart problems

Prevention

In order to prevent yourself from coming into contact with these issues, you can;

  • Drink in moderation- moderation is considered one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.
  • Choose not to binge drink and help your friends do the same.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol while pregnant or if planning to get pregnant.
  • Seek care from a healthcare professional for excessive drinking.

Sources:

http://cdc.gov/Features/AlcoholAwareness/

http://www.ncadd.org/programs/awareness/index.html

http://www.athealth.com/Practitioner/ceduc/alc_assault.html

http://stopalcoholdeaths.com/2012/04/alcohol-awareness-month-2012-arrived/

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