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Article title: Alcohol Abuse and Treatment: NWHIC
What is the most
basic definition of alcohol abuse?
What is alcoholism?
Does a person have to be alcoholic to experience problems from alcohol abuse?
How many women abuse alcohol?
Does alcohol affect women differently than men?
Does heavy drinking affect your menstrual period?
What effect does drinking during pregnancy have on the baby?
How is alcoholism treated?
What do I do if I think I may be drinking too much?
See also….What is the most basic definition of alcohol abuse?
Opinions vary on the definition of alcohol abuse. Abuse can be regular usage that is turning into a dependency. Abuse can also be binge drinking; consuming a large quantity of alcohol in a very short amount of time, but not necessarily every day. Some believe that more than one drink a day for most women is too much. A standard drink is generally considered to be 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits. It is generally believed that on any given day, a woman should have no more than 2 drinks, and that a woman should not drink every day. However, defining abuse is difficult because the pattern of drinking is an important determinant of alcohol-related consequences. So, while data is often collected in terms of the " average number of drinks per week," one drink taken each day may have different consequences than seven drinks taken on a Saturday night. What is alcoholism?
Alcoholism, also known as alcohol dependence, is a disease. Alcoholism is a chronic, often progressive disease with symptoms that include a strong need to drink despite negative consequences, such as serious job, relationships, or health problems. Like many other diseases, it has a generally predictable course, has recognized symptoms, and is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors that are being increasingly well defined. The four known symptoms are:
Craving: A strong need, or compulsion, to drink.
Impaired control: The inability to limit one’s drinking.
Physical dependence: Withdrawal symptoms (nausea, sweating, shakiness, anxiety) when alcohol is stopped after a period of heavy drinking.
Tolerance: The need for increasing amounts of alcohol in order to feel its effects.
No. An alcoholic is dependent upon alcohol. This dependence grows as the disease progresses. A person who abuses alcohol may not be dependent upon it but still drinks excessively. Even if you are not an alcoholic, abusing alcohol has negative results. This includes failure to meet major work, school, or family responsibilities; alcohol-related legal trouble; automobile crashes due to drinking; as well as a variety of medical problems. Under some circumstances, problems can result from even moderate drinking--for example, when driving, during pregnancy, or when taking certain medicines. How many women abuse alcohol?
It is estimated that of the 15.1 million alcohol-abusing or alcohol-dependent individuals in the United States, approximately 4.6 million (nearly one-third) are women. Women also represent 25% of alcoholism clients in traditional treatment centers in the United States. Women are less likely than men to use or abuse alcohol; however, death rates among female alcoholics are 50 to 100 percent higher than those of their male counterparts. Does alcohol affect women differently than men?
Yes. Increasing evidence suggests that the detrimental effects of
chromic alcohol abuse are more severe for women than men. Women develop
alcoholic liver diseases, particularly alcoholic cirrhosis
after a comparatively shorter period of heavy drinking and at a lower
level of daily drinking than men. Proportionately, more alcoholic women
die of cirrhosis than do alcoholic men. Women also become more intoxicated
than do men, after drinking the same amount of alcohol. This is due to
differences in body weight and hormone releases. Alcohol dependence and
related medical problems, such as brain and liver damage, progress more
rapidly in women.
Does heavy drinking affect your menstrual
Yes. Menstrual disorders (e.g. painful menstruation, heavy flow,
premenstrual discomfort, and irregular or absent cycles) have been
associated with chronic heavy drinking. These disorders can have adverse
effects on fertility. Further, continued drinking may lead to early
What effect does drinking during pregnancy have on the
Yes. Menstrual disorders (e.g. painful menstruation, heavy flow, premenstrual discomfort, and irregular or absent cycles) have been associated with chronic heavy drinking. These disorders can have adverse effects on fertility. Further, continued drinking may lead to early menopause. What effect does drinking during pregnancy have on the baby?Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) describes the pattern of abnormalities observed in children born to alcoholic mothers. These abnormalities include low birth weight, behavioral dysfunction, brain malformation, physical deformities, and mental retardation. Prenatal alcohol exposure is one of the leading known causes of mental retardation in the Western world. Moderate drinkers can also pass on milder forms of these serious health risks to their children. These are termed fetal alcohol effects (FAE) and can have serious implications in the development of the child. The Centers for Disease Control in the Department of Health and Human Service found that the rate of frequent drinking among pregnant women increased fourfold between 1991 and 1995. How is alcoholism treated?
Alcoholism is a disease and has no cure, but can be managed with medical treatment and social support groups. This means that even if an alcoholic has been sober for a long time and has regained health, he or she may relapse, and must continue to avoid all alcoholic beverages. The most common and most effective way to combat alcohol abuse is through a systematic support group, with advice and support from a health care professional. What do I do if I think I may be drinking too much?
If you think you may have a drinking problem, talk to your doctor, a close friend, or a family member you trust. It is important to recognize the problem and get help. You can also contact the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment at
1-800-662-HELP. This Center has specific information about treatment programs. Alcoholics Anonymous runs local support meetings and local phone numbers are in the phone book. It takes courage to admit you don’t have control over alcohol; asking for help is an important first step. For more information…
You can find out more about alcohol abuse, alcoholism and fetal alcohol syndrome by contacting the following organizations:
National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information
Phone (800) 729-6686
Internet Address: http://www.health.org/
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Phone: (301) 443-3860
Internet Address: http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/
Phone: (212) 870-3400
Internet Address: http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org/
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence
Phone: (800) 622-2255
Internet Address: http://www.ncadd.org/
National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Phone: (800) 666-6327
Internet Address: http://www.castleconnolly.com/familyhealth/topics/pregnancy/fetalalco.html
All material contained in the FAQ’s is free of copyright restrictions, and may be copied, reproduced, or duplicated without permission of the Office on Women’s Health in the Department of Health and Human Services; citation of the sources is appreciated.
Publication date: October 23, 2000
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