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Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital

 

Moderation Key to Safe Drinking

image; different size alcohol glasses with text that says, Moderation and Drinking.

Truman VA raises awareness about alcohol consumption

By Truman VA’s Health Promotion/Disease Prevention Program
Monday, April 1, 2019

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive alcohol use is responsible for approximately 88,000 deaths in the United States each year. Alcohol consumption also is associated with a variety of short- and long-term health risks such as motor vehicle crashes, violence, high-risk sexual behaviors, high blood pressure and various cancers. The risk of these and other harms increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. 

But what constitutes excessive alcohol consumption? 

  • Binge drinking is defined as consuming four or more alcoholic beverages per occasion for women, or five or more drinks per occasion for men.
  • Heavy drinking is defined as consuming eight or more alcoholic beverages per week for women, or 15 or more alcoholic beverages per week for men.
  • Any alcohol consumed during pregnancy or by those younger than 21 years of age.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. To better understand alcohol consumption and its risks, staff from Truman VA’s Health Promotion/Disease Prevention Program offer this simple screening tool. 

In the United States, the definition of one “standard” drink can be found in the image below: 

 Alcohol size infograph

Take this brief quiz and select the correct response for you:

  1. How often did you consume a drink containing alcohol in the past year? 
  • Never (zero point)
  • One each month (one point)
  • Two to four times per month (two points)
  • Two to three times per week (three points)
  • Four or more times per week (four points) 
  1. How many drinks containing alcohol did you have on a typical day in the past year? 
  • 0 drinks (zero point)
  • One or two (zero point)
  • Three or four (one point)
  • Five or six (two points)
  • Seven to nine (three points)
  • Ten or more (four points) 
  1. How often did you have six or more drinks on one occasion in the past year?
  • Never (zero point)
  • Less than monthly (one point)
  • Monthly (two points)
  • Weekly (three points)
  • Daily or almost daily (four points)

Total your responses. A positive screen for unhealthy use is four or less points for men and three or less points for women.

If your screening was positive for unhealthy alcohol consumption, below are some strategies that may help you reduce your alcohol intake: 

  • Limit how much alcohol you drink and discuss with others about the risks.
  • If you choose to drink alcohol, follow the U.S. Dietary Guidelines on moderate alcohol consumption – which includes no more than one drink per day for women and no more than 2 drinks per day for men.
  • Do not serve or provide alcohol to those who should not be drinking.
  • Talk with your health provider about your drinking behavior and request counseling if you drink too much

Additional resources for limiting alcohol use include:

Healthy Living Message- Limit Alcohol: https://www.prevention.va.gov/Healthy_Living/Limit_Alcohol.asp

Rethinking Drinking website: https://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/Default.aspx

You can find information on treatment programs at this link: https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/TreatmentLocator/faces/addressSearch.jspx.

You also can call 1-800-662-HELP (4357), or for a teletype device (TTY) call 1-800-487-4889.

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