By: Pallavi Vathiar. Practicing Clinical Nutritionist, Mumbai.
Since alcohol is relatively easy to get, legal to consume for those 21 and older, and is somewhat socially acceptable, it is one of thedevelopment most widely-used intoxicating substances. Although not everyone who drinks alcohol will become addicted, it’s important to understand the risks of heavy and binge drinking in order to prevent the of an alcohol use disorder (AUD).
Alcohol Use Disorder
AUD or alcoholism is a chronic, relapsing disease that is diagnosed based on an individual meeting certain criteria outlined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). To be diagnosed with AUD, individuals must meet any two of the below criteria within the same 12-month period (2).
- Drinking more or longer than you intended.
- Feeling sick the next day because of drinking.
- Tried to stop drinking more than once, but you were unable to do so.
- Experiencing cravings for alcohol.
- Being sick from drinking interfered with work, family responsibilities, school, or social engagements.
- Continue drinking despite consequences at work, at school, with family, etc.
- Cutting back on hobbies or activities by making excuses so that you could drink instead.
- Drinking despite changes to mood_ depression or anxiety including disturbance of mental or physical health.
- If you have suffered more than one memory blackout.
- Experiencing withdrawal, including physical symptoms, when you did not drink.
The 2017 NSDUH also states that 24.5% of the population aged 12 and older reported binge drinking in the past month, with 1 in 6 adults binge drinking around 4 times per month (1). According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), binge drinking is defined as 4 or more drinks for females and 5 or more drinks for males on at least one day in the past month (3). Heavy alcohol use is defined as binge drinking on 5 or more days in the past month (3).
NIAAA defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 percent – or 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter – or higher. For a typical adult, this pattern corresponds to consuming 5 or more drinks (male), or 4 or more drinks (female), in about 2 hours.
Heavy Alcohol Use
- NIAAA defines heavy alcohol use as more than 4 drinks on any day for men or more than 3 drinks for women.
- SAMHSA defines heavy alcohol use as binge drinking on 5 or more days in the past month.
Who Should Avoid Alcohol?
- Plan to drive or operate machinery, or participate in activities that require skill, coordination, and alertness.
- Take certain over-the-counter or prescription medications.
- Have certain medical conditions.
- Are recovering from alcohol use disorder or are unable to control the amount that they drink.
- Are younger than age 21.
- Are pregnant or trying to become pregnant (2).
Set Goals And Prepare For A Change
My drinking goal
- I will stop drinking on weekdays, starting as of __________.
- I will limit my Saturday and Sunday drinking to no more than three drinks per day or five drinks per weekend.
- After three months, I will cut back my weekend drinking even more to a maximum of two drinks per day and three drinks per weekend.
- When do you want to stop drinking or start drinking less? Tomorrow? In a week? Next month? Within six months? If you’re trying to stop drinking, set a specific quit date.
After you’ve set your goals to either stop or cut back your drinking, write down some ideas on how you can help yourself accomplish these goals. For example:
- Get rid of temptations. Remove all alcohol and other alcohol-related items from your home and office.
- Announce your goal. Let friends, family members, and co-workers know that you’re trying to stop or cut back on drinking. If they drink, ask them to support your recovery by not doing so in front of you.
- Be upfront about your new limits. Make it clear that drinking will not be allowed in your home and that you may not be able to attend events where alcohol is being served.
- Avoid bad influences. Distance yourself from people who don’t support your efforts to stop drinking or respect the limits you’ve set. This may mean giving up certain friends and social connections.
- Learn from the past. Reflect on previous attempts to stop or reduce your drinking. What worked? What didn’t? What can you do differently this time to avoid pitfalls? (4)
Benefits Of Alcohol _ If continued Vs If Stopped.
While Continuing To Drink
- You may be more fun and social when you drink
- Drinking allows you to relax and unwind
- Drinking allows you a means of forgetting about your problems
After Stopping Alcohol
- Your family life will improve
- You will feel more energetic and mentally aware
- You will have more time to invest in other activities that promote good health and finances
- You will avoid drinking-related depression and anxiety
- Your job performance will improve (5).
The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal range from mild to severe, and include:
- Shaking/ Shivering
- Nausea or vomiting
- Anxiety and restlessness
- Stomach cramps and diarrhea
- Trouble sleeping or concentrating
- Elevated heart rate and blood pressure
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually start within hours after you stop drinking, peak in a day or two, and improve within five days.
Treatment Of Alcohol Addiction
- Keep yourself occupied
When you have nothing to do or going through depression, you may tend to drink more. If you join an activity that can keep you occupied, then you may stop drinking. So keep yourself busy with activities such as painting and sports. Also, try to be around happy people.
- Go on a juice diet
Juice diet can help you crave less for alcohol. Studies suggest that If you drink fresh juice for about 10 days, you will gradually stop missing alcohol.
- Add dates to your diet
Dates are one of the oldest and popular remedies for alcoholism. Add them to your diet and see the effects within a month.
- Bitter gourd
Bitter gourd not only can help getting rid of alcoholism, but also cure damaged kidney. Drink bitter gourd juice early in the morning on a daily basis and say goodbye to alcoholism. Well, you must be thinking; it tastes bitter! You can mix it with butter milk for better taste.
- Start practicing yoga
Most people get addicted to alcohol when going through depression. Yoga can help relax your mind and body. You can also go for meditation. It can greatly help you in attaining peace of mind and body (6).