The cultural myth: Is more alcohol better?
Know your personal drink count
Women & Alcohol
When it comes to alcohol, women and men are different:
- Women produce less alcohol dehydrogenase (the enzyme that breaks down alcohol) than men. This means that if a man and a women of the same weight drink the same amount of alcohol under the exact same circumstances, the woman will on the average have a much high blood alcohol content (BAC) than the man.
- Women generally weigh less than men. The less you weigh, the smaller your blood volume is. This means that if 2 people of different weights drink the same amount of alcohol, the one who weighs less will have a higher BAC.
- Hormonal changes in women (on birth control, at ovulation, and at menopause) affect alcohol metabolism.
- Research shows that women start to have alcohol-related problems at lower drinking levels than men do.
- Any alcohol use during pregnancy can cause serious developmental defects in an unborn child including fetal alcohol syndrome.
- Women who are struggling emotionally often turn to alcohol to cope. It is estimated that 60% of women with severe drinking problems suffer from depression.
- Women who drink are more likely than men to misuse prescription drugs.
- The suicide rate of women with alcohol problems is higher than the general population.
- Although both women and men often have unwanted or unprotected sex when drinking, the consequences of some sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancy are often disproportionally worse for women than for men.
About 1 in 4 women experience a rape or attempted rape during their college career. 75% of these sexual assaults involve the alcohol or other drugs. The truth is that anyone impaired by a substance cannot legally give consent to sex; and sex without consent is rape. Far too many women suffer serious physical and psychological consequences as a result of mixing alcohol and sex.
Liver Damage. Women are more likely to develop alcoholic hepatitis.
Heart Disease. Women are more susceptible to alcohol-related heart disease.
Breast Cancer. Women who consume about one drink per day have a 10% higher risk than those who don't drink at all. That risk rises another 10% for every extra drink they have per day.
Athletes & Alcohol
Learn more about it here
Performance Enhancing Drugs brochure.
East Asians and American Indians
Many East Asians and American Indians have a form of alcohol dehydrogenase that is more efficient at turning alcohol into acetaldehyde (a compound poisonous to the human body) than that of people from other genetic backgrounds. The end result is that these people wind up with large amounts of acetaldehyde in their bodies whenever they drink alcohol. This acetaldehyde causes their faces to flush and leads to headaches, nausea, vomiting, heart palpitations and other extreme physical unpleasantness. This reaction to alcohol is sometimes referred to as the
The symptoms of flush syndrome are exactly the same as the symptoms caused in people who take the anti-drinking medication
. This drug also causes a build-up of acetaldehyde within the body. As many as 50% of people of Japanese descent are estimated to experience flush syndrome. Flush syndrome is more severe in some individuals than others. It is estimated that individuals with severe flush syndrome do not develop alcohol problems because they find drinking alcohol to be extremely unpleasant.
In addition, most individuals use a form of acetaldehyde dehydrogenase called ALD2 to metabolize the acetaldehyde which results from alcohol metabolism. However, many East Asians and American Indians produce a form of acetaldehyde dehydrogenase called ALD2*2 which is far less efficient at breaking down acetaldehyde than ALD2. ALD2*2 is only about 8% as efficient as ALD2 at metabolizing acetaldehyde. Again this leads to higher levels of this poisonous compound in the body.
Who me? You do not need to identify as an "alcoholic" to have a drinking
problem. If you have experienced ANY negative consequences due to
drinking, you should consider cutting down:
- Became nauseated or threw up due to drinking
- Experienced a hangover
- Said or did something embarrassing or hurtful while drinking
- Got into an argument with family or friends
- Became angry, belligerent or got into a fight
- Became sad and hopeless
- Became anxious
- Spent too much money on alcohol
- Lost your purse, wallet or keys when drunk
- Increased the amount you drank in order to get the same effect
- Developed health problems, such as an stomach ulcer
- Regretted something you did while drinking
- Felt guilty about your drinking
- Engaged in risky or unwanted sexual behavior while drinking
- Fell down or injured yourself while drinking
- Injured someone else
- Damaged property
- Had a "fender bender" or car accident
- Engaged in a potentially dangerous behavior, such as driving or swimming while drunk
- Failed to fulfill your responsibilities at home, work or school due to drinking or being sick from drinking
- Cut back on other fun activities in order to drink
- Used drinking to avoid coping with a problem
- Got arrested due to drinking (public intoxication, DUI, etc..)
- Experienced withdrawal symptoms after drinking (trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, racing heart, or seizure)
Increased awareness is the first step to changing behavior. There are a variety of self-screening tools to help you identify a potential drinking problem.
How many times in the past year have you had 4 or more drinks in a day (women) or 5 or more drinks in a day (men)?
(If your answer is more than one (1) time, you are at risk)
1.Have you ever felt that you should
ut down on your drinking?
2. Have people
nnoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
3. Have you ever felt bad or
uilty about your drinking?
4. Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover? (
(If you answered yes to two (2) or more questions, you are at risk.