Health Notes - Can I Get You A Drink?
by Ellen S. Mullen M.D.
Cajuns are known for their hospitality. “What can I get you to drink?” is a common question asked to many guests. In fact, here it may be even considered rude not to ask that question. “A drink” most often refers to an alcoholic drink. With this mentality it can be difficult to distinguish between a social drinker and a person with a serious alcohol problem. Here are some ways to differentiate if you or someone you know may have a drinking disorder.
How often do you have a drink containing alcohol and when you drink how many alcoholic drinks do you consume in a day? How often do you have six or more drinks on one occasion? Studies have found that men under the age of 65 that drink more than 14 standard drinks per week or more than 4 in a day are classified as risky alcohol users. This amount decreases for women to more than 7 per week or more than 3 on any given day. A standard drink is 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or 1.5 ounces of 80 proof liquor. Risky alcohol use puts an individual at an increased risk for health consequences. Some of these health issues include: depression, anxiety, hypertension, abuse of other drugs, stomach ulcers, liver damage, and increased trauma. Nearly three out of ten adults in the U.S. use alcohol in a risky manner.
Other questions to ask include: Is it hard to stop drinking once you start? Also, during the past year, how often have you failed to do what was normally expected of you because of drinking? How often do you need a drink in the morning to get going and do you ever feel guilty or remorseful after drinking? It is felt that alcoholism may be the result of a combination of genetics, personality traits and environmental influences.
Persons with alcohol dependence often find that black outs occur from drinking and may have a history of injuring themselves or someone else as a result of alcohol use. Excessive alcohol use is the third leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. Persons with alcohol problems have often been approached by others regarding the overuse of alcohol.
These questions may be helpful in identifying if you or someone you know has a drinking disorder. If you or someone you know has an issue with alcohol, get help. Alcoholics Anonymous has been one of the most successful programs. The local number is (337)365-3882, or visit your doctor and discuss your concerns.