BINGE-DRINKING: Is your relationship with alcohol ‘on the rocks’?


There’s a myth in the publishing world that all editors drink on the job. When you watch movies or TV shows, they'll often portray editors as old mean middle-aged men who chain smoke cigars and drink whiskey ‘round the clock.


By Caitlin Spitzer


-Health-


There’s a myth in the publishing world that all editors drink on the job. When you watch movies or TV shows, they'll often portray editors as old mean middle-aged men who chain smoke cigars and drink whiskey ‘round the clock.


While the team at Gazette 2.0 can absolutely confirm there is some truth to this stereotype, it is definitely over-exaggerated and is only partially true — we only drink four out of the five days of the week.


But, in all seriousness, we most certainly do not condone drinking on the job (we’re looking at you, Gazette editors) and only drinking in moderation in other settings.


Alcoholism is a serious problem and has a huge impact on our country. That’s why April is alcohol awareness month, aimed toward educating the population about the implications of over-drinking. According to a study published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 25.8% of people over the age of 18 admitted to binge drinking within the past month.


Although occasional binge drinking in and of itself is not necessarily a problem, it can become an issue if the drinking is frequent enough to interfere with your life and/or health. In that case, alcoholism needs to be seriously considered.


The statistics regarding abuse are staggering:

• As many as 95,000 people, on average, die of alcohol-related deaths every year in the United States. Broken up by gender, that accounts for 68,000 men and 27,000 women.


• Worldwide, the number of deaths from alcohol is upwards of three million people annually — that’s 5.3% of all deaths (World Health Organization.)


• Over-use of alcohol plays a factor in more than 200 diseases and injuries.


• The economy takes a hit because of excessive alcohol consumption as well, costing the U.S. $249 billion in 2010 alone (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.) The costs are primarily due to workplace productivity going down, along with healthcare expenses and motor vehicle accidents amongst others.


Underage drinking has become a problem in recent years. According to a 2019 study, 4.2 million individuals ages 12-20 reported binge drinking within the past month and 825,000 had participated in heavy alcohol use.


Amongst deaths in young people under 21, the numbers accounted for over 1,000 motor vehicle accidents, 1,000 homicides and more than 500 suicides.


The signs of alcohol abuse can be tricky, as there are different stages that are harder to detect as well as some individuals being able to get by as “high-functioning” in which they may have a problem but are still able to carry out responsibilities without problems.


The first stage of excessive alcohol consumption is called early alcohol abuse (American Addiction Centers.) This is often an experimental stage wherein people, often younger, will try out various forms of alcohol and test their tolerance levels. This can either be a phase, or it may progress into full-blown alcohol abuse. Environmental and genetic factors can be predictors to determine if people in this stage will have problems in the future. The occasional binge-drinker falls under this category as well.


The second stage is problematic alcohol abuse. This is where individuals may start to develop an addiction and lose control over alcohol consumption. The over-drinking may start to leak into someone's personal life as well, interfering with daily functioning.


People with psychological or emotional issues may be at a higher risk for alcohol dependence. People who “need” alcohol in order to function in certain situations (for example, relying heavily on alcohol in social situations) can end up with an emotional dependency on drinking and could eventually develop alcohol use disorder. This usually happens over the span of several years before becoming obvious.


The last two stages are severe alcohol abuse and end-stage. At this point, an individual will start developing severe physical and mental health implications. You can develop serious health complications such as cardiovascular diseases, liver cirrhosis, seizures, high blood pressure and more.


Fortunately, if you do have a problem there are numerous resources out there. Locally, there are facilities such as the Sto-Rox Neighborhood Health Council (among others) that diagnose and treat alcohol abuse. For information on this, call (412) 771-6462.


Alcohol withdrawal is a difficult thing to work through, so it’s important to do it slowly with a professional.

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