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Moderation:How much is too much?

October 17, 2010
By CATHY BROWNFIELD, Family Recovery Center

How much alcohol is too much to drink?

One drink per day may reduce the risk of sudden cardiac arrest in women, but more than two drinks daily may increase the risks. According to data provided by JTO (Join Together Online) 79,000 deaths occur annually in the U.S. due to alcohol. About half of those deaths are attributed to binge drinking.

What is binge drinking? It used to be considered drinking heavily over several days. Today it's considered heavy consumption of alcohol over a short time: five or more drinks for men, four or more for women, raising the blood alcohol content (BAC) level to 0.08 percent within about two hours time, advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Binge drinking is not uncommon among college students and adults. It's been reported that one of three adults and two of three high school students binge drink. While college students are known to binge drink, the CDC says 70 percent of binge drinking is in adults age 26 and over.

Risks are involved when binge drinking: alcohol poisoning, unplanned pregnancy, violence, STDs transmission, car crashes, liver disease, sexual dysfunction, poor control of diabetes, poor academic performance and date rape, children born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, high blood pressure, stroke, to name a few.

Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent, advises the CDC. It has been reported that 1,700 college students die each year from unintentional alcohol-related injuries. More than 5,000 underage youth die from alcohol misuse.

Education about drugs-and alcohol is a drug-is important for parents to share with their children. There are dangers associated with alcohol.

It affects the brain, which is especially risky for youth whose brains are still developing and for pregnant women whose unborn children can be affected forever by FASD, which effects can range between mild to severe retardation. It is a permanent condition which is completely preventable.

Alcohol overdose (poisoning) symptoms may include vomiting, seizures, hypothermia (low body temperature) pale, bluish skin color, cold and clammy skin, shallow breathing (less than 8 breaths per minute) and unresponsiveness, mental confusion, coma, irregular breathing (more than 10 seconds between breaths). The condition is serious and should be taken seriously because it can result in death. Waiting it out can result in a terrible tragedy.

What can happen to someone with alcohol poisoning that goes untreated? The victim chokes on his/her own vomit. Breathing slows, becomes irregular or stops. The heart beats irregularly or stops. Hypoglycemia (too little blood sugar) leads to seizures. Untreated severe dehydration from vomiting can cause seizures, permanent brain damage or death.

Don't be afraid to seek medical help for someone who has had too much to drink. Anger or embarrassment is better than death.

For more information about substance abuse contact Family Recovery Center at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, FRC offers education, prevention and treatment programs related to substance abuse and misuse. FRC promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities and is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.



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