Alcohol Facts To Take Seriously
As a former drinker, I always thought a few glasses of red wine every night was good for my heart. New alcohol facts, however, tell a different story. There has been a movement in the last few years to try sobriety for one month to detox after the holidays. Many people report a wide variety of benefits. No more hangovers and better sleep are just two. Taking a break can result from being sober curious, or the Dry January Challenge. If you were sober curious this year, or just burned out after the holidays, and took a month off, congrats. If you’re ready to go back to your partying days, here’s some alcohol facts for thought. What does the research tell us now?
My Alcohol Wake-Up Call
I didn’t stop drinking for my health, because I didn’t think my physical health was affected. I stopped drinking almost 15 years ago because I wanted to support the loved ones in my life who were in recovery. Did you know that 1 in every 7 Americans has a drinking problem? We don’t call it alcoholism anymore, but rather Alcohol Use Disorder. That means you just can’t stop no matter how many problems alcohol brings to your life. But you don’t have to have a drinking problem to be at risk from drinking too much. How much is too much, you may well ask.
“Sorry to be a buzz-kill, but that nightly glass or two of wine is not improving your health” was the headline in a recent NY Times article. Here it is.
From the NYTimes After decades of confusing and sometimes contradictory research (too much alcohol is bad for you but a little bit is good; some types of alcohol are better for you than others; just kidding, it’s all bad), the picture is becoming clearer: Even small amounts of alcohol can have health consequences.
Alcohol Facts About Consequences
Research published in November revealed that between 2015 and 2019, excessive alcohol use resulted in roughly 140,000 deaths per year in the United States. About 40 percent of those deaths had acute causes, like car crashes, poisonings and homicides. But the majority were caused by chronic conditions attributed to alcohol, such as liver disease, cancer and heart disease.
When experts talk about the dire health consequences linked to excessive alcohol use, people often assume that it’s directed at individuals who have an alcohol use disorder. But the health risks from drinking can come from moderate consumption as well.
“Risk starts to go up well below levels where people would think, ‘Oh, that person has an alcohol problem,’” said Dr. Tim Naimi, director of the University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research. “Alcohol is harmful to the health starting at very low levels.”
If you’re wondering whether you should cut back on your drinking, here’s what to know about when and how alcohol impacts your health.
How do I know if I’m drinking too much?
“Excessive alcohol use” technically means anything above the U.S. Dietary Guidelines’ recommended daily limits. That’s more than two drinks a day for men and more than one drink a day for women.
There is also emerging evidence “that there are risks even within these levels, especially for certain types of cancer and some forms of cardiovascular disease,” said Marissa Esser, who leads the alcohol program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The recommended daily limits are not meant to be averaged over a week, either. In other words, if you abstain Monday through Thursday and have two or three drinks a night on the weekend, those weekend drinks count as excessive consumption. It’s both the cumulative drinks over time and the amount of alcohol in your system on any one occasion that can cause damage.