VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System
April is Alcohol Awareness Month
Excessive alcohol use immediately increases the risk of many harmful health conditions, including unintentional injuries (traffice injuries, falls, drowning, burns, and unintentional firearm injuries), violence to partner or children, risky sexual behavior (unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners, and increased risk of sexual assault) as well as alcohol poisoning, which can cause such symptoms as loss of consciousness, low blood pressure, low body temperature, coma, respiratory depression, or death.
If you choose to drink alcohol, drink in moderation (women, no more than 1 drink per day; men, no more than 2 drinks per day). Avoid "binge" drinking. One drink is 12 oz. of regular beer OR 8-9 oz. of malt liquor OR 5 oz. of table wine OR 1.5 oz of 80-proof hard liquor. Binge drinking means having more than 3 drinks on one occasion for women and adults over 65 or more than 4 drinks on one occasion for men.
You should also be conscious of mixing energy drinks with alcohol. Energy drinks are beverages which have added caffeine, plant-based stimulants, or other additives. The caffeine in these drinks can mask the depressant effects of the alcohol, causing the consumer to not be as aware of the effects of the alcohol on their judgement and abilities. Individuals who drink the energy drink/alcohol combination are three times as likely to overdrink (binge). They are about twice as likely to experience the health risk effects caused by poor judgement and limited abilities than those who do not drink the energy drink/alcohol combination.
- If you choose to drink alcohol, drink in moderation (women no more than 1 drink a day; men no more than 2 drinks a day). Avoid "binge drinking." If you are concerned about your drinking, talk to your VA health care team about getting help.
- One drink is:
- 12 oz. regular beer OR
- 8-9 oz. malt liquor OR
- 5 oz. table wine OR
- 1.5 oz. 80-proof hard liquor.
- Binge drinking is having:
- More than 3 drinks on one occasion for women and adults over age 64.
- More than 4 drinks on one occasion for men.
- Remember, on average, women should have no more than one drink a day (and no more than 7 drinks per week) and men should have no more than 2 drinks a day (and no more than 14 drinks per week).
- For many adults, drinking small amounts of alcohol does not cause serious health problems.
- Too much alcohol use or binge drinking can lead to higher risk of health problems, such as liver damage or other injuries.
- The following people should not drink alcohol at all:
- Children and teenagers
- People of any age who cannot limit their drinking to the recommended
- Women who are pregnant or who plan to become pregnant
- People who plan to drive, operate machines, or take part in other
activities that require attention, skill, or coordination
- People taking certain medications that interact with alcohol
- People with certain medical conditions
- People recovering from alcohol dependence (alcoholism)
Alcohol dependence can be treated. Effective treatments include individual counseling, group treatments, medications to reduce craving or prevent relapse, and inpatient or residential treatment. Talk to your VA health care team about the resources VA has that can help.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- National Institutes for Health:
* Indicates that the link leads to a non-VA website. The VA is not responsible for the
content that is on the site.
If you have questions or interest in making a healthy living change, please see your primary care team at the VA facility in which you receive health care.
- Definition of "One Drink": 12 oz. regular beer OR 8-9 oz. malt liquor OR 5 oz. table wine OR 1.5 oz. 80-proof hard liquor.
- Excessive Alcohol Use: Heavy drinking (drinking more than two drinks per day on average for men, or more than one drink per day on average for women or people over age 64), or binge drinking (drinking 5 or more drinks during a single occasion for men or 4 or more drinks during a single occasion for women).
- Binge Drinking: According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism*, binge drinking is defined as a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level to 0.08% or above. This pattern of drinking usually corresponds to more than 4 drinks on a single occasion for men or more than 3 drinks on a single occasion for women and adults over age 65,
generally within about 2 hours.
- Problem Drinking: Pattern of drinking that results in harm to one's health, interpersonal relationships, or ability to work. Certain manifestations of alcohol abuse include failure to fulfill responsibilities at work, school, or home; drinking in dangerous situations, such as while driving; legal problems associated with
alcohol use; and continued drinking despite problems that are caused or worsened by drinking. Alcohol abuse can lead to alcohol dependence.
- Alcoholism or Alcohol Dependence: A diagnosable disease characterized by several factors, including a strong craving for alcohol, continued use despite harm or personal injury, the inability to limit drinking, physical illness when drinking stops, and the need to increase the amount drunk to feel the effects.