Substance Abuse 101: Alcohol

Apicha Community Health Center Jan 07, 2019  

Apicha CHC

Alcohol is one of the most popular, easily accessible, and dangerous substance people can abuse. And even though it's legal (for those of age), it continues to be one of the most leading causes of death in the United States.

The Dilemma of Alcohol

Alcohol is a huge part of many people's social lives. Often times, our social activities are rooted in things like meeting with friends at a bar, sharing a bottle of wine during a night in, or partying at a club. Drinking alcohol, for many folks, is part of their lifestyle, and something they enjoy doing. 

However, there is a fine line between moderation and excess. And unfortunately, many people cross over into excessively drinking alcohol. As a result, this can lead to binge drinking and alcoholism. Because alcohol is so commonly consumed, especially in excess, it is considered an abused substance. 

Why do People Drink?

Many people drink alcohol as a social activity, but there are other reasons people drink alcohol, too. Some common reasons are:

  • Relives stress
  • Feel good
  • Cope with loss
  • Overcome anxiety
How Much is Too Much Alcohol?

As previously stated, drinking in moderation is best. It's a fine line between going out to a bar and celebrating with your friends, and drinking so much that you don't remember the next day. The recommended consumption of alcohol is one drink per day for women, and two per men. However, this doesn't mean that drinking alcohol won't have a negative effect on your health, which you can read about below.

The Problem with Binge Drinking

Binge drinking, which is consuming an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period of time, is a huge issue in the United States. It is the most common, deadly, and costly pattern of excessive alcohol use. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks or women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours.

According to the CDC, one in six US adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about seven drinks per binge. This results in 17 billion total binge drinks consumed by adults annually, or 467 binge drinks per binge drinker.

Binge drinking also impacts your health and safety. It is associated with a number of health issues:

  • Unintentional injuries such as car crashes, falls, burns, and alcohol poisoning.
  • Violence including homicide, suicide, intimate partner violence, and sexual assault.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Unintended pregnancy and poor pregnancy outcomes, including miscarriage and stillbirth.
  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
  • Sudden infant death syndrome.
  • Chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and liver disease.
  • Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon.
  • Memory and learning problems.
  • Alcohol dependence.
What is Alcoholism and Alcohol Use Disorder?

 Around 16 million people in the United States have alcohol abuse disorder.  Alcohol abuse can result in alcoholism and alcohol use disorder. Although these two terms have many things in common and are often used interchangeably, they are two different things. 

Alcoholism is a non-medical term, and is the most severe form of alcohol abuse and involves the inability to manage drinking habits. Alcohol use disorder is a medical condition diagnosed by a professional  to describe someone with an alcohol problem, to varying degrees. Alcohol abuse disorder is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using.


What are the Health Effects of Drinking Alcohol?

There are short- and long-term health effects in drinking alcohol. Short-term effects often happen when someone is inebriated (drunk), and may go away once someone is sober. Short-term effects are

  • Slow reaction time
  • Poor reflexes
  • Reduces brain activity
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Restlessness

Long-term effects have a lasting impact on your health, even after you stop drinking. Long-term effects are:

  • Brain defects, including Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome
  • Liver disease
  • Diabetes complications
  • Heart problems
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Vision damage
  • Bone loss
How Apicha CHC Can Help

If you struggle with substance abuse and addiction, Apicha CHC can help. Talking about substance abuse and, when necessary, working together to create an action plan is part of standard care at Apicha CHC. If you'd like to schedule an appointment, click the link below. 

Health Clinic New York | Apicha Community Health Center


Ready to take action about your health?
 request an appointment

Subscribe For Updates

Early Signs of HIV

Early Signs of HIV

Early HIV is the beginning stage of HIV disease, right after HIV infection occurs. If you were not...
Transgender Sexual Health Guide: Safer Sex

Transgender Sexual Health Guide: Safer Sex

When it comes to sex, there’s a serious lack of resources available to transgender people that...
What you need to know about PrEP, the HIV Prevention Pill

What you need to know about PrEP, the HIV Prevention Pill

  What You Need to Know About PrEP PrEP or pre-exposure prophylaxis, the HIV prevention pill, has...
What does HIV neutral mean?

What does HIV neutral mean?

  How is HIV neutrality even possible? That’s a good question.
PrEP and Vacation: Best Practices for Staying on top of Your PrEP

PrEP and Vacation: Best Practices for Staying on top of Your PrEP

Before you know it, summer will be here (it kind of already is). That means vacation and traveling!...
How to get Into NYC Museums for Free With Your Library Card

How to get Into NYC Museums for Free With Your Library Card

It's true -- New York City has an amazing selection of museums. From The Met and The Whitney, to...
Substance Abuse 101: Heroin

Substance Abuse 101: Heroin

Heroin is a highly addictive opioid, and its popularity has risen over the last ten year in the...
The 5 Best Free Apps to Boost Your Health & Fitness

The 5 Best Free Apps to Boost Your Health & Fitness

Finding a fitness plan that works for you isn't always easy. Sometimes, having a gym membership, or...
What One Serving of 7 Delicious Healthy Snacks Actually Look Like

What One Serving of 7 Delicious Healthy Snacks Actually Look Like

When it comes to snacking, size matters. Serving size, that is.
7 Ways to Practice Self Care This Valentine's Day

7 Ways to Practice Self Care This Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is always about showing love to your partner, friends, and family. This often means...