Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital
Here’s To Your Health!
Often, alcohol use has been an accepted practice in many organizations including the military. Some Veterans may think they do not have an alcohol problem, because they never had a DUI or other legal problems related to alcohol use. However, even if you “don’t get in trouble” when drinking, alcohol may still be affecting your health in unwanted ways.
Some persons should not drink any alcohol. That includes women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. People who are recovering from alcoholism or who are unable to control how much they drink should avoid alcohol as well.
For Veterans who do drink, how much is too much? On average, women should drink no more than one and men no more than two drinks per day. Drinking more than that amount on a regular basis can cause health problems or make existing health problems worse.
Alcohol use can increase the risk for unintentional injuries (like falls), unexpected violence and risky sexual behavior. Alcohol can worsen mental health problems including depression and anxiety. Some prescription and over-the-counter medications do not mix with alcohol and can cause harmful health reactions.
Too much alcohol can negatively affect almost every organ of the body. Over time, too much alcohol can lead to chronic illnesses including cancer, heart problems, high blood pressure, liver disease, stomach problems, and dementia. Alcohol can also get in the way of a good night’s sleep and make sleep apnea worse.
Even if you do not think you have an alcohol problem, be sure to let your health care provider know about any alcohol use. You could learn about dangerous interactions with your medications or how alcohol is affecting other health problems. Veterans often decide to cut back or limit their alcohol once they know how it is affecting their health. VA providers are trained to regularly ask about alcohol use and help educate Veterans on how to be safe when they choose to have a drink. If you are concerned about your drinking, talk to your VA health care provider or call the Truman VA Behavioral Health Service at 573-814-6486. Help is available.
Here’s to your health!
To learn more about how alcohol can affect your health, visit www.prevention.va.gov/Healthy_Living/Limit_Alcohol.asp.