How does alcohol affect a person?
Alcohol affects every organ in the body. It is a central nervous system depressant that is rapidly absorbed from the stomach and small intestine into the bloodstream. Alcohol is metabolized in the liver by enzymes; however, the liver can only metabolize a small amount of alcohol at a time, leaving the excess alcohol to circulate throughout the body. The intensity of the effect of alcohol on the body is directly related to the amount consumed.
What is the difference between alcoholism and alcohol abuse?
Alcohol abuse is a pattern of drinking that results in harm to one’s health, interpersonal relationships, or ability to work. Manifestations of alcohol abuse include the following:
- Failure to fulfill major responsibilities at work, school, or home
- Drinking in dangerous situations, such as drinking while driving or operating machinery
- Legal problems related to alcohol, such as being arrested for drinking while driving or for physically hurting someone while drunk
- Continued drinking despite ongoing relationship problems that are caused or worsened by drinking
- Long-term alcohol abuse can turn into alcohol dependence
Dependency on alcohol, also known as alcohol addiction and alcoholism, is a chronic disease. The signs and symptoms of alcohol dependence include:
- A strong craving for alcohol
- Continued use despite repeated physical, psychological, or interpersonal problems
- The inability to limit drinking
What health problems are associated with excessive alcohol use?
Excessive drinking both in the form of heavy drinking or binge drinking, is associated with numerous health problems, including:
- Chronic diseases such as liver cirrhosis (damage to liver cells); pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas); various cancers, including liver, mouth, throat, larynx (the voice box), and esophagus; high blood pressure; and psychological disorders
- Unintentional injuries, such as motor-vehicle traffic crashes, falls, drowning, burns and firearm injuries
- Violence, such as child maltreatment, homicide, and suicide
- Harm to a developing fetus if a woman drinks while pregnant, such as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- Alcohol abuse or dependence
How do I know if I have a drinking problem?
Drinking is a problem if it causes trouble in your relationships, in school, in social activities, or in how you think and feel. If you are concerned that either you or someone in your family might have a drinking problem, consult your personal health care provider.
A standard drink is any drink containing about 14 grams of alcohol.
Note: Standard drink sizes and lower risk drink limit: NIAAA, rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov
A Standard Drink
- 12 oz Beer
- 5 oz Wine
- 1.5oz Liquor
Youth & Teenage Drinking
Alcohol is widely available and aggressively promoted throughout society. It is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States -- more than tobacco and illicit drugs -- and although drinking by persons under the age of 21 is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 drink 11% of all alcohol consumed in the United States. For more information, visit National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.
What are the HealthONE hospitals doing to help our patients with substance abuse issues?
SBIRT Approach: SCREENING, BRIEF INTERVENTION AND REFERRAL TO TREATMENT. SBIRT treats substance use like the healthcare issue it is.
What is SBIRT?
A comprehensive, integrated, public health approach based on universal screenings, SBIRT creates awareness about America's number one preventable health issue - substance use. Standardized screenings serve as a powerful education tool about the health consequences of substance use.
- Alcohol and other drug use can affect a person’s health and general well-being, and research shows SBIRT can motivate people to change their behavior
- Proven to reduce the number of people who move from substance use to abuse and addiction
- The benefits of the practice extend well beyond the user-to family, employers, law enforcement and the healthcare industry
Why SBIRT is a critical intervention strategy?
Risky use of alcohol and other drugs contributes to more than 70 diseases and leads to expensive, long-term health problems. Individuals who exceed the recommended guidelines for alcohol consumption face increased health risks even if they are not dependent on alcohol: risk increases for depression, high blood pressure, anemia, heart failure, liver damage, ulcers, inflammation of the pancreas and some types of cancer.