A Safer Naper

May - Alcohol Awareness

An estimated 88,000 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States. The first is tobacco, and the second is poor diet and physical inactivity.

This month, the Naperville Police Department’s A Safer Naper campaign is turning the community’s attention to alcohol awareness in order to promote responsible, healthy habits to keep our community safe.

What is excessive alcohol use?

Excessive drinking includes:

  • Binge drinking: For women, binge drinking is 4 or more drinks consumed on one occasion (one occasion = 2-3 hours). For men, binge drinking is 5 or more drinks consumed on one occasion.
  • Underage drinking: Any alcohol use by those under age 21.
  • Heavy drinking: For women, heavy drinking is 8 drinks or more per week. For men, heavy drinking is 15 drinks or more per week.
  • Pregnant drinking: Any alcohol use by pregnant women.

What is considered a "drink"?

U.S. standard drink sizes:

  • 12 ounces of 5% ABV beer
  • 8 ounces of 7% ABV malt liquor
  • 5 ounces of 12% ABV wine
  • 1.5 ounces of 40% ABV (80-proof) distilled spirits or liquor (examples: gin, rum, vodka, whiskey)

How does excessive drinking affect us?

  • 88,000 deaths per year
  • Violence, injuries, and motor vehicle crashes
  • Risky behaviors
  • Chronic conditions such as cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure
  • $249 billion economic cost

If you choose to drink, do so in moderation

  • No one should begin drinking or drink more frequently based on potential health benefits
  • Up to 1 drink a day for women
  • Up to 2 drinks a day for men
  • Don't drink at all if you are under age 21, pregnant or may be pregnant, or have health problems that could be made worse by drinking

What are symptoms of an alcohol use disorder?

See if you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself. In the past year, have you:

  • had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer, than you intended?
  • more than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?
  • more than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex)?
  • had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?
  • continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout
  • spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over other aftereffects?
  • continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
  • found that drinking—or being sick from drinking—often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
  • given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink?
  • more than once gotten arrested, been held at a police station, or had other legal problems because of your drinking?
  • found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, a racing heart, or a seizure? Or sensed things that were not there?

If you do have any symptoms, then alcohol may already be a cause for concern. The more symptoms you have, the more urgent the need for change. A health professional can look at the number, pattern, and severity of symptoms to see whether an alcohol use disorder is present and help you decide the best course of action. 

(Sources: www.niaaa.nih.gov and www.cdc.gov)