Spring is almost coming, which is the best time for parties or gatherings with friends on the terraces with a glass of wine. Or maybe it’s better without alcohol? You may ask this question if you noticed that at lockdown zoom parties you already drank more than you should. In this case, it is better to call the alcohol help hotline on AddictionResource in order to prevent alcohol addiction or find out more about substance abuse. This article has collected the most important things about how addiction is formed, the dangers of low doses, and risk factors. Here are Tips for how to stop drinking?
Is it Possible to Drink and Not Damage Your Health?
International recommendations on alcohol are that certain dosages can reduce (but not eliminate) health risks. WHO does not set clear values precisely because research data is contradictory and it is safer for health not to drink at all.
All healthy adults are advised to consume no more than 14 units of pure alcohol per week. A unit is 8 grams or 10 milliliters: for example, half a pint of beer with a strength of 3.6% or a glass of something strong (40%). A standard glass of 12% wine contains about 1.5 units.
There are other tips for reducing risks that scientists give. For example, it is better to distribute the allowable amount evenly throughout the week, have a few alcohol-free days a week, and completely abandon it if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, or if you have chronic diseases with appropriate recommendations from your doctor.
At the same time, alcohol seems to be more harmful to women than to men. This happens for two reasons: firstly, there is less water in the female body, so the concentration of alcohol and its toxicity at the same doses are higher; secondly, the female body produces fewer enzymes that break down alcohol, so it takes more time to remove it.
Why are there No Safe Doses of Alcohol?
A number of studies do show that moderate drinking can reduce the risk of certain cardiovascular conditions, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. But the truth is that the same can be done with proper nutrition and physical activity. And without risks on the other side of the scale, as is the case with the same red wine.
Drinking alcohol is a risk anyway, even if you stay within the allowed 14 units. And even more so if these 14 units are repeated every week. Short-term risks include injury, sexually transmitted infections, and alcohol poisoning. Long-term ones include heart and liver disease, as well as certain types of cancer, including breast, colon, and oral cancer.
Alcohol is closely associated with about 60 different diseases, and in Europe is one of the main causes of premature death. Less dangerous but still important side effects include reduced absorption of B vitamins and other nutrients, decreased resistance to disease, and interactions with certain types of medications.
Considering that alcohol abuse is a social problem, advertising a substance and giving an extra reason for speculation seems to be harmful, say doctors from AA helpline USA.
It is also important to note that almost all lifestyle studies are based on the words of patients and their descriptions of their habits. Therefore, it cannot be ruled out that healthy people who lead an active lifestyle simply consume a moderate amount of alcohol and feel normal – hence all conditionally positive conclusions.
The Genetics of Addiction
Scientists and alcohol hotline specialists have long been trying to understand why, at the same level of alcohol consumption, some people become addicted, while others do not. It is obvious that, among other factors, the genetic component also plays a role here.
Swedish researchers discovered it through experiments on rats, which, when choosing between alcohol and a sugar substitute, consistently preferred the former. Sweet cravings are evolutionarily hardwired into the mammalian brain because they are quick calories that improve the chances of survival. The rodents were first taught to drink an alcohol solution and then given a choice between it and a sweetener (regular sugar was omitted to eliminate the calorie variable).
When four rats, 12.5% of the total, chose alcohol over and over again, it was decided to increase the number of “participants” in the experiment. As a result, there were six hundred of them, and it turned out that about the same percentage of rats consistently chose alcohol. This made it possible to establish that in the brains of addicts, the expression of one gene (GAT-3) was significantly reduced. This is why it is said that an unhealthy relationship with alcohol can be inherited.
Other Risk Factors
Most often, problems with alcohol appear in 20-30 years, although in general it can begin at any age. Among the main risk factors are regular or early use, mental health problems, and past emotional trauma.
In the development of dependence, the capabilities of our body play an important role. For example, in the inhabitants of the Far North, low production of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase leads to a fairly rapid formation of alcohol dependence and personality degradation. For the same reason, some people can always drink a glass of wine at events, while for someone it takes a few months to form an addiction with the same approach.
How to Know if You have an Alcohol Addiction
Usually, physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal appear when a person suddenly stops drinking. On the other hand, strong alcohol dependence develops gradually, in some cases imperceptibly even for the person themselves. According to alcohol hotlines, the main signs are: an irresistible alcohol craving, loss of a sense of proportion, hangover absence, memory lapses, emotional instability, the occurrence of unreasonable aggression. Work, family, and hobbies lose their significance, a person’s social circle, and interests change.
With an emerging addiction, everything is more difficult to understand. Experts believe you should call the AA crisis hotline if your loved ones have told you more than once to reduce alcohol consumption, you feel bad because you continue to drink, and you are used to coping with a hangover with small doses.
Notice how often you need alcohol to relieve stress. It’s not uncommon for people to look forward to Friday so they can finally have a drink, and it often stretches out over the weekend. Or, for example, they are going to drink a couple of glasses of wine, but they drink a couple of bottles and do not remember half of the holiday in the morning. This is a red flag. In this case, it would be helpful to call an alcohol crisis hotline and discuss your situation.